Yesterland
McDonald’s at Disneyland
Conestoga Fries in Frontierland
The Harbour Galley in Critter Country


McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2008

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

Photos by Chris Bales, 2008 (left) and Allen Huffman, 2007 (right)

Menus at Conestoga Fries (left) and The Harbour Galley (right)

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

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2008

Doesn’t look like a McDonald’s

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2008

49 Served

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Sorry, no fish

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2008

Branded fries, branded cold drinks, branded water, branded hot beverages

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Fries with your Latte? Or a Latte with your Fries?

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2008

What fishermen eat when they don’t catch anything

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


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!

Harbor Galley at Disneyland

Photos by Allen Huffman, 2000

The Harbour Galley before McDonald’s arrived (2000 photos)

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 cholesterol-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.

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.

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

Harbor Galley at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2010

The Harbour Galley after McDonald’s departed

Harbor Galley at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

After reverting to Dockside Dining

McDonald’s at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2008

During the McDonald’s era

Harbor Galley at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

After the departure of McDonald’s

Harbor Galley at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2018

Harbor Galley ten years after McDonald’s

Harbor Galley at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Harbor Galley menu

If you want McDonald’s French Fries when you’re at Disneyland, you have to go across Harbor Boulevard—just as before November 1998.

But wouldn’t you rather have shrimp and lobster?

 

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Updated August 14, 2020