Yesterland

Burger Invasion
Hosted by McDonald’s

“This giant hamburger-turned-alien-
spaceship houses an out-of-this-world
selection of burgers, fries and drinks.”
Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

California Adventure is the theme park about California, located in California. And what could be more Californian than feasting on a genuine McDonald’s Big Mac or Double Cheeseburger?

After all, Maurice ("Mac") and Richard ("Dick") McDonald opened the first McDonald’s “Speedee Service System” restaurant in 1948 in San Bernardino, California.

The park’s website promises “an out-of-this-world selection of burgers, fries and drinks.” Out-of-this-world, perhaps—but not out-of-the-ordinary.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Follow Route 66 to Burger Invasion.

Burger Invasion isn’t like the McDonald’s restaurants in the communities surrounding the park. This one has no Quarter Pounders or Filet-O-Fish Sandwiches. Here, a side of McDonald’s Fries is $2.79 (one size only). There’s no inside seating. And this McDonald’s looks like a cross between a flying saucer and a giant hamburger (with lettuce, onion, cheese, and a beef patty with portholes).

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

A burger or a flying saucer? Or both?

Of course, it’s not called McDonald’s either. It’s called Burger Invasion, and you won’t find another one like it anywhere else. After all, you paid a lot of money to get into the park, so you wouldn’t want to see a typical McDonald’s.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Food menu

Order a traditional Big Mac with Fries, a Double Cheeseburger with Fries, a Crispy Chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato, or a meal-size Chef Salad. The Happy Meals here come with Apple Dippers, a toy, and your choice of a small bottled water or apple juice. If your child prefers a less healthy (but possibly more tasty) Happy Meal, you can request McDonald’s Fries and a soda in place of the Apple Dippers and healthier beverage.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

“McTreats” menu

There’s a separate window for McTreats. You can order a McFlurry dessert topped with genuine Nestlé toppings (Butterfinger or candy-coated chocolates), a Triple Thick Milkshake (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry), or a Baked Apple Pie.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Order at an order stand; then pick up at a window.

It’s usually not crowded at Burger Invasion—but that may just be due to the light attendance here at the original California Adventure.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Table

Take your food to a square, blue table decorated with Burger Invasion logos. There’s not much shade. And you’d better hope it’s not going to rain.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Paradise Pier billboard

Burger Invasion even has its own billboard over in the opposite corner of Paradise Pier. Actually, if you’re over there, why not just eat at Malibu-Ritos or Strips, Dips ’n’ Chips instead?

At least you’ll get theme park food, not McDonald’s food.


Burger Invasion officially opened at Disney’s California Adventure on the park’s opening day, February 8, 2001.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Paradise Pier construction (2000)

During the construction of California Adventure, photos showed a giant hamburger facing a pink dinosaur, with a Wild Mouse ride between them. The California Adventure Preview Center had nothing about McDonald’s being part of the new park, but it seemed likely. After all, since January 1997, McDonald’s Corporation and The Walt Disney Company had been looking for opportunities to benefit from a “10-year multi-divisional, multi-national relationship.” Walt Disney World already had several locations selling McDonald’s food.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

The amazing backside of a hamburger (2000)

Less than a month before the opening of Disney’s California Adventure, it became official. The hamburger-shaped restaurant would sell McDonald’s food. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Los Angeles Times Orange County Edition (“McDonald’s to Launch Burger Invasion at Disney Park” by E. Scott Reckard, January 16, 2001):

McDonald’s Corp. confirmed Monday that it will open a restaurant at Disney’s California Adventure. The fast-food chain said the food served inside the new park, opening Feb. 8, will cost less than Disney hamburgers but more than at McDonald’s restaurants outside the park.

McDonald’s, a major promotional partner of Walt Disney Co., said the restaurant, Burger Invasion, will be the eighth of its food outlets at Disney amusement parks in Anaheim, Florida and France. This latest one will have the broadest menu.

A Big Mac, French fries and drink at McDonald’s across Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland costs $4.50. At Burger Invasion, a Big Mac and fries without a drink will cost $4.79. And a soda is $2.19.

Still, McDonald’s food “is a value inside the park,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Nancy Izquierdo said. For example, a double cheeseburger and fries cost $4.59 at Burger Invasion, compared with $5.79 for a cheeseburger and fries at Don the Beachcomber, a Disney restaurant at California Adventure.

The ten-year, global promotional agreement between McDonald’s and Disney ended on January 1, 2007. The Golden Arches stayed around Disneyland for another 20 months, but then it was over.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

After McDonald’s

Burger Invasion closed on September 2, 2008, along with the two McDonald’s food locations at Disneyland Park: Conestoga Fries in Frontierland and Harbour Galley in Critter Country.

By the time Burger Invasion closed, the high prices for McDonald’s food at Burger Invasion had increased. In 2001, a Big Mac with McDonald’s Fries (without a drink) was $4.79. In 2008, the same thing cost $5.99. The price of a Coke went from $2.19 to $2.69 in the same period. That meant the equivalent of a Big Mac Value Meal was $8.68—and that was back in 2008.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Blue panels behind the glass

Burger Invasion never reopened, but the defunct burger restaurant lasted another two years. The Burger Invasion logo, with its Golden Arches and hamburger rocket, was replaced by a red planet. Blue panels behind the glass prevented guests from looking into the empty kitchen.

In mid-September 2010, workers set up construction walls around Burger Invasion, Pizza Oom Mow Mow, and the S.S. Rustworthy so the area could be rebuilt as a new 800-seat dining area—with a consistent, charming style replacing the previous hodgepodge.

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Paradise Garden Grill

Burger Invasion at Disney's California Adventure

Paradise Garden Grill menu

The former Burger Invasion is now Paradise Garden Grill, featuring a Mediterranean menu.


Yesterland has more about “McDisney.” Please take a look:

McDonald’s at Disneyland Park
McDonald’s food at Walt Disney World
McDonald’s presents Dinoland U.S.A.
Ronald’s Fun House at Downtown Disney

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© 2012 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated August 17, 2012.

Photo of Burger Invasion sign: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Burger Invasion with walkway: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Burger Invasion with hotel: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Burger Invasion menu: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Burger Invasion McTreats: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Burger Invasion windows: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Burger Invasion table: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Burger Invasion billboard: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Burger Invasion construction: 2000 by Tony “WisebearAZ” Moore.
Photo of Burger Invasion construction detail: 2000 by Tony “WisebearAZ” Moore.
Photo of Burger Invasion after McDonald’s: 2008 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Burger Invasion with blue panels: 2008 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Paradise Garden Grill: 2011 by Chris Bales.
Photo of Paradise Garden Grill menu: 2011 by Chris Bales.