McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
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Ronald’s Fun House
McDonald’s at Downtown Disney

This is no ordinary McDonald’s Restaurant. This is “Ronald’s Fun House.” Take a look!

McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
McDonald’s playful clock tower, with Golden Arches
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Hamburglar in the landscaping
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
And Grimace too
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
High-capacity, two-step order and pickup
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
McArt in the order area
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Happy Meal box overhead “monorail”
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Magician Ronald
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Self-serve beverage station
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
French fry stripes on the ceiling
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
McLamp
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Grimace’s Game Room
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Birdie’s Music Room
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Not just regular dessert, but premium dessert!
 
McDonald's at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Grab ’n’ Go at the Snack Center, just for beverages and desserts
 

The Downtown Disney McDonald’s Restaurant opened December 1997 in a newly-built building in the Marketplace section of Walt Disney World’s shopping and dining area. The restaurant was one of the results of a 10-year global marketing alliance between McDonald’s Corporation and The Walt Disney Company, announced May 23, 1996. (For more about the alliance, see McDonald’s Food at Walt Disney World).

Around two months before the new McDonald’s opened, the Orlando Sentinel ran an article (“McDonald’s plans to open a restaurant, complete with themed rooms, at Downtown Disney this December,” September 27, 1997) that included this description of what was planned:

Themed “Ronald’s Fun House,” the restaurant features specially designed rooms and decor inspired by Ronald McDonald and other McDonaldland characters. Ronald’s Fun House will feature “Ronald’s Dining Room,” with a formal 20-foot serpentine dining table, “Birdie’s Music Room,” featuring a giant french fry organ, and “Grimace’s Game Room,” with an interactive video/game wall. Located on the east side of Downtown Disney, the new restaurant will be open for business 365 days a year. “We are excited about the opportunity to bring the food, folks and fun of McDonald’s to guests at Walt Disney World Resort,” said Brad Ball, McDonald’s senior vice president, U.S. marketing.

The restaurant was a success. At the mid-point of the 10-year McDonald’s-Disney alliance, the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News (January 22, 2001) discussed the “mega-marketing alliance.” In the article, Jack Greenberg, who was then Chairman and CEO of McDonald’s, pointed out that the McDonald’s in Downtown Disney “is among the top five McDonald’s restaurants in the United States and in the top 1 percent in the world in sales volume.”

When the 10 years were up, the two corporations did not renew.

Fresh A-Peel and Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
Transformation of McDonald’s into new eateries (November 2010 photo)

For a while, it seemed that the popular Golden Arches would survive at Downtown Disney anyway.

But in early February 2010, Disney announced that the location would close forever at the end of April, to be replaced in fall 2010 by a new restaurant combining two brands under the same roof. One would be Pollo Campero. The other would be a new restaurant concept—so new that it didn’t even have a name yet—featuring “fresh, healthy food.” It opened as Fresh A-Peel and later became Bodie’s All American.

Pollo Campero and Bodie’s All American closed permanently at end of March 19, 2014. The building was torn down within two weeks.

Fresh A-Peel and Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World
The former McDonald’s clock tower as a sign tower

If the McDonald’s over by the All-Star Resorts is too far away, there’s another McDonald’s outside Walt Disney World in the Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista shopping center—just a mile away from the defunct “Ronald’s Fun House.”

 
Have you seen these three Yesterland articles about McDonald’s and Disney?


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© 2010-2014 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks
 
Updated April 11, 2014.
 
15 photographs of McDonald’s at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World by Werner Weiss, March 2010.
2 photographs of Fresh A-Peel and Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World by Werner Weiss, November 2010.