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McDonald's Sponsorship in DinoLand U.S.A. and Other Early Attractions

McDonald's Sponsorship in DinoLand U.S.A. and Other Early Attractions

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Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland Drive Thru sign

 In 1996, 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.  

Disney Animal Kingdom Happy Meal Box gorilla Disney Animal Kingdom Happy Meal box elephant

 Disney Animal Kingdom Happy Meal box dinosaur

 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 the 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 Preparation Lab located in the park between the Boneyard and Theater in the Wild.  At least four casts of Sue's skeleton were made and one was assembled and placed near the entrance to Countdown to Extinction.  Two other casts were featured in a traveling show sponsored by McDonalds.  There was also a tented pavilion until 2000 called Dinosaur Jubilee that featured casts of skeletons, fossils and some animatronics.  It was located in the area that later became Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama.  

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland Crocodilian McDonald's sign

 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.  

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland Styracosaurus McDonald's sign

 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.  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, table and some rubber dinosaur figures).  There were special Happy Meal toys (dinosaur squirt guns) that were semi-exclusive to this restaurant.  The reason the toys weren't fully exclusive is that they were based on an international Happy Meal set but the toys given out in the park had "Animal Kingdom" stamped on the bottom.  McDonald's also produced an Animal Kingdom Happy Meal set for restaurants nationwide that featured 12 different animal toys, plus an exclusive tortoise toy only available at McDonald's locations located in Wal-Mart.  DinoLand also had a location called Petrifries, featuring "potatoes from the McDon of time".  

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland McDonald's sign

 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!

Disney Animal Kingdom Countdown to Extinction loading area pipes

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