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.
Welcome to McDonaldland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
In Thailand, India, and several other Asian countries this is the Ronald that greets you.
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.
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.
Let's examine some of the other McDonaldland Characters, shall we?
Mayor McCheese the mayor of all McDonaldland.
Here is his wall decoration.
Here is his playland statue.
Here is the Mayor McCheese round-a-bout.
This is the Mad Professor who was later known as just the professor.
His wall decoration.
The Mad Professor slide. The Professor is credited with creating McNuggets in McDonaldland.
These are stickers showing him standing in the hamburger patch. "Robble, robble, robble."
Here is his wall decoration showing him stealing the hamburgers from the hamburger patch.
And his Hamburglar swing.
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.
In the 80s he was re-vamped to be a purple comical good guy with two arms named Grimace who still loves the milkshakes.
His wall decoration.
The Grimace bounce and bend, notice the four arms.
Uncle O'Grimacey used to come to visit his nephew Grimace on St. Patrick's Day bringing his shamrock shakes with him.
Originally called Gobblins as in, "gobblin' up all of your french fries". These guys roamed McDonaldland. "Keep Your Eyes on Your Fries"
The name was changed to Fry Guys in the 80s. The wall decoration.
A Fry Guy bouncer.
A Fry Guy as one of the seats on the carousel.
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.
I am not sure if this swing ever made it past production designs.
Here is a Filet-O'-Fish bouncer.
And Another bouncer.
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.
Seen here on his wall decoration.
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.
Here is the famous Captain Crook spiral slide. This slide and the Hamburglar design was often imitated but never duplicated.
You can even ride his boat as a bouncer or on the carousel.
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!
Big Mac as seen here in his wall decoration is the man in this town and he has his hands full.
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.
This is the Chief Big Mac Climber or his jail.
Not a single crook caught just kids.
Apple Pie Tree
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.
There were other types of tables as well.
There was even a train with dining cars to eat on in the playland.
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
The dessert slide
The burger spinner
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.
Birdie the Early Bird came out in 1980 as a new character who loves the McDonald's breakfasts.
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.
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.
Later in 1993 the Halloween versions came out. McBoo, Monster, Witchie, McNuggla, Pumpkin, and Mummie.
Then in 1996 the dress up McNugget Buddies:
Monster, Spider, Ronald clown, Dragon, Punk Rock Star, and Princess.
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.
Each Child was given a paper hat, special birthday napkins, a Happy Meal with prize, a plastic hand puppet, and a birthday place mat.
Some restaurants had live characters that came in costume for birthdays that had been reserved in advance. Usually it was Grimace and Ronald.
There was even a Ronald McDonald Cake.
My cake had Birdie and Ronald on it.
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.
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.
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!
Thanks for reading!