In the early 1970s, the popularity of the biggest fast food restaurant in the world, McDonald's, was on a slide. Competition from Burger King, Roy Rogers, Hardees, and other chains were starting to heat up. With a decline in sales, and complaints from franchise owners, the Golden Arches needed something to set them apart from the others. The needed to make their restaurant a family destination.
In efforts to increase sales, a franchise owner in Iowa, installed playground equipment behind his restaurant. After a month with the playground, his sales were on the rise. He shared this idea at a McDonald's owners convention. (Yes, they really have conventions for everything) This got the ball rolling for what would become the McDonald's playground.
Mcdonald's contacted the Setmakers company to design and manufacture the playground equipment. They wanted the playground pieces to be based on characters and sets from the popular McDonald's commercials.
Setmakers tested their new playground equipment for fun, safety, and durability at the 1972 Illinois State fair. At the 10-day State Fair, an estimated 350,000 youngsters and their parents played in the 4,800-square-foot playground park. The 10-day period put the equipment through about three years of wear and tear. In addition, McDonald's wanted to see how the equipment would react to the heat, rain, and wind that usually occurred during the State Fair.
The equipment passed all the tests and so many kids were happy to spin around on a hamburger. Here is some of the equipment produced for the playground.
In order for Setmakers to show what they had available, they produced this really great info film. Let's look in on a family visiting a local McDonald's and finding much more than they thought they would.
Do you remember playing in these playgrounds? Tell us about it!