Yesterland McDonald’s in Yesterland

Conestoga Fries in Frontierland
The Harbour Galley in Critter Country

McDonald's at Disneyland

On December 12, 1948, in San Bernardino, California, brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the original McDonald’s “Speedee Service System” restaurant selling 15-cent hamburgers and 10-cent French Fries.

At least that’s what we used to think.

Here in Yester-Frontierland, we can see that the original McDonald’s restaurant was a Conestoga Wagon in the Old West selling $3.00 French Fries. Not far away, The Harbour Galley, another relic from a bygone era, serves a similar menu.

McDonald's at Disneyland
Conestoga Fries
McDonald's at Disneyland
The Harbour Galley

Both locations offer McDonald’s French Fries, various Coca Cola fountain drinks, and Dasani bottled water. The Harbour Galley also offers hot beverages.

Sure, the food menu is limited. But if you want more fat and salt in your diet, who needs any other choices?

McDonald's at Disneyland
It doesn’t look like a McDonald’s.
 
McDonald's at Disneyland
49 Served.
 
McDonald's at Disneyland
Sorry. No fish.
 
McDonald's at Disneyland
Branded fries, branded cold drinks, branded water, branded hot beverages
 
McDonald's at Disneyland
It’s what fishermen eat when they don’t catch anything.
 

On May 23, 1996, McDonald’s Corporation and The Walt Disney Company announced a “10-year multi-divisional, multi-national relationship,” effective January, 1997. The agreement linked Disney’s theatrical releases, theme parks, and video releases to Happy Meal toys and other in-restaurant promotions.

If the 18,700 worldwide McDonald’s restaurants weren’t enough, there would also be places to buy McDonald’s food at Disney theme parks. First came McDonald’s food at Walt Disney World. Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort opened in April 1998 with an entire land, Dinoland U.S.A., presented by McDonald’s.

McDonald’s took a bit longer to reach the West Coast.

Conestoga Fries at Disneyland opened in November 1998 near the spot where guests had boarded the old Conestoga Wagons ride in the 1950s. The canvas top that proclaimed “Westward Ho!” was a nod to the old ride. However, the restaurant wasn’t one of the original Conestoga Wagons; it was just a creatively designed fast food structure.

Some guests welcomed the familiar fries. The McDonald’s fries were simply a branded food product, like Coca Cola. What’s wrong with that? Finally, a food their kids would definitely eat. How wonderful!

Some guests were appalled. The presence of McDonald’s in the park was just plain wrong. Disneyland is supposed to be about unique experiences, not about something you can get anywhere. This wasn’t even a case of a company sponsoring an attraction. How awful!

McDonald's at Disneyland
The Harbour Galley before McDonald’s arrived (2000 photo)

The Harbour Galley had originally opened in July 1989 as a counter service seafood restaurant. It was carefully designed as a weathered old seaside shack. The menu included “healthier food alternatives”—a tuna sandwich with cholesteral-free mayonnaise, a fresh seafood brochette, and fresh fruit mix.

Located at Frontierland’s Fowler’s Harbor, across from New Orleans Square’s Haunted Mansion, The Harbour Galley was officially in Critter Country.

McDonald's at Disneyland
The Harbour Galley after McDonald’s departed (2010 photo)

Conestoga Fries was a big success, despite its limited menu and the availability of better food at Disneyland. The park needed another McDonald’s-branded French Fry counter. Or perhaps the McDonald’s-Disney agreement required it.

So, in summer 2001, The Harbour Galley received a fresh, shiny coat of paint and became the second location at Disneyland Park selling McDonald’s French Fries. Earlier that year, Disney’s California Adventure had opened with Burger Invasion, a McDonald’s-branded counter service restaurant that sold Big Macs and other sandwiches in addition to French Fries and beverages.

The ten years were over on January 1, 2007. McDonald’s and Disney did not renew their agreement.

McDonald's at Disneyland
The Harbour Galley reverted to Dockside Dining instead of only French Fries.

On September 2, 2008, the McDonald’s logo disappeared from Conestoga Fries, The Harbour Galley, and Burger Invasion.

Conestoga Fries was demolished. Burger Invasion was shuttered, awaiting the time when the building and its infrastructre will be reused. The Harbour Galley survived the departure of McDonald’s; it reverted to a menu featuring seafood.

Now, if you want McDonald’s food when you’re at Disneyland, you have to go across Harbor Boulevard—just as before November 1998. But wouldn’t you rather eat something else?

McDonald's at Disneyland
During the McDonald’s era (2008 photo)
 
McDonald's at Disneyland
After the departure of McDonald’s (2010 photo)
 

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

McDonald’s food at Walt Disney World
McDonald’s presents Dinoland U.S.A.

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© 2010 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks
 
Updated June 25, 2010.
 
Photo of Conestoga Fries: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Photo of Conestoga Fries menu: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Photo of The Harbour Galley menu: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of Conestoga Fries showing rear of wagon: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Photo of Conestoga Fries poster: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Photo of The Harbour Galley: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of The Harbour Galley sign: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Photo of The Harbour Galley with “Come Ashore” artwork: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Four photos of The Harbour Galley, before McDonald’s: 2000 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of The Harbour Galley with “Come Ashore” artwork in 2010: 2010 by Chris Bales.
Photo of The Harbour Galley: 2009 by Allen Huffman.
Photo of “Come Ashore” in 2008: 2008 by Chris Bales.
Photo of “Come Ashore” in 2010: 2010 by Chris Bales.