Walt Dated World
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McDonald's Sponsorship in DinoLand U.S.A.
McDonald's Sponsorship in DinoLand U.S.A.
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In January of 1997, McDonald's entered into a ten year sponsorship with the Walt Disney Company. In addition to promoting Disney films, video releases, television shows and theme parks in the fast food giant's Happy Meals, McDonald's also sponsored the entire DinoLand U.S.A. area in Animal Kingdom (as well as other fast food areas in Walt Disney World and Disneyland). While fast food and fossils don't seem to have much in common, the DinoLand sponsorship did make some sense.
In October of 1997, McDonald's and the Ronald McDonald House Children's Charities teamed up with the Walt Disney Company, The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the California State University system to purchase "Sue", the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever discovered. Once the skeleton was shipped to the Field Museum, McDonald's sponsored a fossil preparation lab where guests could watch Sue's bones being prepared for exhibit. When Animal Kingdom opened in April of 1998, there was a second McDonald's fossil lab located in the park. Once Sue's skeleton was assembled, at least four casts were made. One of the casts was sent to Animal Kingdom for display in DinoLand U.S.A. and two others were featured in a traveling show sponsored by McDonalds.
The McDonald's name and logo could be spotted all over DinoLand U.S.A., starting with the entrance to the land. The sign even echoed the McDonald's "billions served" served sign by saying "over 3 billion unearthed". Both the Boneyard and the Dino Institute were funded by a "grant" from McDonald's. The Theater in the Wild sign featured the familiar Golden Arches logo as well. Several posters near the exit of Countdown to Extinction/Dinosaur featured a prehistoric spin on McDonald's slogans such as "Have you had your break today?", "Did somebody say McDonald's?" and "Food, folks and fun". There was also a movie billboard by Chester and Hester's that had many McDonald's references.
All of the parks at this time had at least one restaurant that served McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, french fries and Happy Meals. DinoLand dining options included Restaurantosaurus, which featured the Donald's Breakfastosaurus character breakfast in the morning and counter service featuring McDonald's food starting at lunch. Reportedly there were special Happy Meal toys that were exclusive to this restaurant. The outside of the restaurant had at least one area on the roof where a McDonald's bag and thermos were featured (near a lawn chair and table and some rubber dinosaur figures). DinoLand also had Petrifries, featuring "potatoes from the McDon of time".
When the Disney/McDonald's partnership ended in 2008, DinoLand's sponsorship became extinct. Petrifies later became Trilo-Bites. Restaurantosaurus still serves fast food but it's not branded to McDonald's and the character breakfast is no longer held at that location. The posters near the Dinosaur exit are still there but no longer feature references to McDonald's. One reminder of the sponsorship can be found in the loading area for Dinosaur. The overhead pipes contain the chemical formulas for popular hamburger condiments ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.
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