Awhile back some of you guys started some threads in the memory lane section in the forums about McDonald's playground equipment. I kept thinking This would be a good article. I waited for a long time and nobody ever made an article so it here it is.
My wife says, "Why are you doing that? You hate McDonald's." to which I reply that I don't know why, but I do know why. I didn't always hate McDonald's and as a kid I loved it. To a kid lousy food didn't matter as much and who can forget the joy of opening your Happy Meal and digging around in it for the prize? I even had a birthday party there for crying out loud, yes as a kid I loved it.

article image


Welcome to McDonaldland.


article image

article image


article image


This was way before the billions and billions served and the over 99 billion served signs. Hmmm get your McRib only available for a limited time ... I think I'll get it the next limited time around or not. I actually don't eat there anymore and have not eaten there willingly since I was a child. Back then however I did eat there a lot. There was one just down the street from my house.

McDonaldland Characters


Let me introduce some of the characters that you may be familiar with and others that are not so familiar. They all live in McDonaldland but most came out in the seventies or earlier so the only way a 80s child like me came to know them was through the McDonald's Playland equipment or old paintings in some of the older restaurants. My wife does not recognize the majority of them at all unless they were in a commercial because the nearest McDonald's to her house growing up did not have a playground. Some were just way to old.

Speedee their first mascot.


article image


The original Ronald McDonald. Check out his cup nose and serving tray hat. Willard Scott portrayed him in the character's first television appearance in 1963.

article image


This is the Ronald McDonald I remember growing up with the french fry bag pockets. They even had stuffed dolls which Spencer fondly remembers in his RetroMachine vol 4.

article image


article image


Most restaurants had a Ronald McDonald statue that was in the playground or inside the dining area if there wasn't a playground. I distinctly remember the waving one.

article image


There were also sitting Ronald statues on benches so you could pose with him for a picture or just in case you ever wondered what it would be like to have a clown's arm around you. "Puhleeze" half the women who are reading this say, "seems like every other day some clown is trying to put his arm around me, know what pepper spray feels like bozo?"

article imagearticle image


In Thailand, India, and several other Asian countries this is the Ronald that greets you.

article image


I don't know where you can find the prone Ronald just lying about but I don't really care to find out either. That thing creeps me out.

article image


Here is the wall decoration from the playland depicting Ronald picking some hamburgers from the hamburger patch. Yes that's right hamburgers grow on bushes in McDonaldland.

article image


Ronald stickers.


article image


Let's examine some of the other McDonaldland Characters, shall we?


article image


Mayor McCheese the mayor of all McDonaldland.


article image


Here is his wall decoration.


article image


Here is his playland statue.


article image


Here is the Mayor McCheese round-a-bout.


article image

article image


This is the Mad Professor who was later known as just the professor.


article image


His wall decoration.


article image


The Mad Professor slide. The Professor is credited with creating McNuggets in McDonaldland.


article image


The Hamburglar.


article image


These are stickers showing him standing in the hamburger patch. "Robble, robble, robble."


article image


Here is his wall decoration showing him stealing the hamburgers from the hamburger patch.


article image


And his Hamburglar swing.


article image


The Hamburglar spiral slide.




The Evil Grimace was a four armed monster who loved to steal milkshakes seen here in this sticker. Milkshakes come from extra thick milkshake volcanoes in McDonaldland incidentally.


article image


In the 80s he was re-vamped to be a purple comical good guy with two arms named Grimace who still loves the milkshakes.


article image


article image


His wall decoration.


article image


The Grimace bounce and bend, notice the four arms.


article image


Uncle O'Grimacey used to come to visit his nephew Grimace on St. Patrick's Day bringing his shamrock shakes with him.


article image


Originally called Gobblins as in, "gobblin' up all of your french fries". These guys roamed McDonaldland. "Keep Your Eyes on Your Fries"


article image


article image


The name was changed to Fry Guys in the 80s. The wall decoration.


article image


A Fry Guy bouncer.


article image


A Fry Guy as one of the seats on the carousel.


article imagearticle image


On the McDonald Land teeter totter I think that is a Fry Guy and a Filet-O'-Fish. Hamburgers grow on bushes, naturally the Filet-O'-Fish swim in the Filet-O'-Fish lake in McDonaldland of course.


article image


I am not sure if this swing ever made it past production designs.


article image


Here is a Filet-O'-Fish bouncer.


article image


And Another bouncer.


article image


Filet-O'-Fish fountain


article image


There was also a Filet-O'-Fish mountain waterfall statue that I can't find a picture of.


There has to be a villain to go after the Filet-O'-Fish right? Enter Captain Crook.


article image


Seen here on his wall decoration.


article image


Here is his playland statue with a chest full of hamburgers. Wait a minute I thought that was Hamburglar's bag, now I'm all confused.


article image


Here is the famous Captain Crook spiral slide. This slide and the Hamburglar design was often imitated but never duplicated.


article image


You can even ride his boat as a bouncer or on the carousel.


article image


Let's see here so we have learned that McDonaldland is filled with villains, crooks, and sneak-thieves with a burglar after my hamburgers, a purple monster after my shake, Gobblins or Fry Guys after my fries, and a crooked pirate after the Filet-O'-Fish. Seems like we need some law and order around here with all these filchers trying to steal my dinner.


Calling Officer Big Mac!


article image


Big Mac as seen here in his wall decoration is the man in this town and he has his hands full.


article image


Here is Big Mac in all his glory as a playground statue. He is later promoted from Officer to Chief. He looks like a British bobby because this keystone copper always wears a Constable uniform.


article image


This is the Chief Big Mac Climber or his jail.


article image


Not a single crook caught just kids.


article imagearticle image


Apple Pie Tree


article image


This is the Apple Pie Tree where all of the apple pies grow and you can sit down to eat in the playland at a flower table.


article imagearticle image


There were other types of tables as well.


article image


article image


There was even a train with dining cars to eat on in the playland.


article image


Some equipment I just could not find pictures for but this guy Frank15 created some gifs of them on his "The McDonald's Playground Page" at angelfire.


The distinctive playland fence


article image


The dessert slide


article image


The burger spinner


article image


There were always talking hamburgers in McDonaldland (makes you a little squeamish when you pick one off the bush to eat it, doesn't it? Please don't eat me I have a wife and junior burgers). In 1979 they added the Happy Meal Gang with regular sized Drink and Fries. Also in the gang was McDonald's Cookies and Toy Surprise and a living Happy Meal Box.

article imagearticle image



Birdie the Early Bird came out in 1980 as a new character who loves the McDonald's breakfasts.


article image


In 1986 some McDonald's restaurants or at least the drive-thrus were staying open later. To advertise this fact a new mascot Mac Tonight appeared. Make it a Mac Tonight was the slogan. He played a jazzy piano to a parody tune of Mac the Knife.


article imagearticle image


The McNugget Buddies joined the Happy Meal Gang in 1988. The original 10 were: Snorkel, Cowpoke, Volley, corny, Sparky, Drummer, Rocker, First Class, Cowpoke, and Sarge.


article image


Later in 1993 the Halloween versions came out. McBoo, Monster, Witchie, McNuggla, Pumpkin, and Mummie.


article image


Then in 1996 the dress up McNugget Buddies:
Monster, Spider, Ronald clown, Dragon, Punk Rock Star, and Princess.


article image


I was turning 8 years old and where did I want to have a birthday party? You guessed it McDonald's. So I invited some of my friends and we stormed the place. I still don't know how my Mom afforded it.

article image


Each Child was given a paper hat, special birthday napkins, a Happy Meal with prize, a plastic hand puppet, and a birthday place mat.

article image


Some restaurants had live characters that came in costume for birthdays that had been reserved in advance. Usually it was Grimace and Ronald.

article image


There was even a Ronald McDonald Cake.


article image

article image


My cake had Birdie and Ronald on it.


article image
article image


We played games with a McDonald's Hostess like pin the arms on Grimace (pin the tail on the donkey) and a scavenger hunt around the restaurant.

article image


Then it was off to the playland to work off those calories.

Funny how I don't even like McDonald's anymore. Maybe it is because of the decline of the iconic McDonaldland characters. I miss them. I will always remember McDonald's as a kid as a magical place even if I don't go anymore. I did like their cookies though. I probably still would.

article image
article image


If you didn't get enough of McDonaldland check out these previous articles:

"A Day at the Golden Arches" by Steven Sampieri

"The Meal of Happy" by BiteMeTechie


Bye, see you next time!


article image


Thanks for reading!


article image



Images courtesy <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonliebigstuff/">JasonLiebig on Flickr</a>