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.
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.
Click here to discuss this page on the Yesterland Discussion Forum at MiceChat!
© 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.