Friends, a few weeks back on Facebook I noticed a post from the esteemed Caseen Gaines, the well known Author of the books Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse, A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic, and The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History to name a few. His post was a link to a 2016 article from the A.V. Club – which was written by Erik Adams and is a look at the lawsuit that occurred when Sid and Marty Krofft realized that some of the elements of McDonaldland were too similar to their H.R. Pufnstuf television series. Courts apparently felt the same as Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions Inc. was eventually awarded a million dollars in the lawsuit – plus McDonald’s had to cease using the characters that had been created by the advertising agency Needham, Harper & Steers. The A.V. Club article is definitely an interesting read – as is the link to the promotional materials provided back in the day for those McDonald’s interested in building a McDonaldland park. Since this was 1972 that means that Grimace was still an eight armed foil to Ronald McDonald and the character of the kindly Professor was at that point known as the Mad Professor.
The promotional film for McDonaldland was produced by Setmakers Inc. in an attempt to show how much business would increase after setting up a play area. We are first introduced to young Eric and his Mother and Father as they are enjoying some delicious McDonald’s food – the parents lamenting their isn’t anything for the kids to do while visiting. Eric is soon introduced to the joys of McDonaldland and is quick to bring his parents… and about 100 other visitors to enjoy the park as well.
I might be easy to impress but this promotional film is a real joy – one of those reasons is that I was lucky enough in my youth to have a McDonaldland in my neck of the woods. Although it was indoor and actually in a building adjacent to the local McDonald’s. In addition while our McDonaldland had some of the playground equipment featured in this short film – they were slightly different. For example the Big Mac Climber, the bottom of it wasn’t exposed like in the video and the opening at top of Officer Big Mac’s hat was only big enough to put your face through… not practically climb out of it!
We did have the Captain Crook Spiral Slide but since it was indoors, the Captain Crook “topper” was attached to a motorized and miniature merry-go-round. We had a few Fry Guys and Filet-O’-Fish spring rides as well as the Mayor McCheese Round-A-Bout. However we missed out on the joys… and possible frights of the Hamburglar Swing, Evil Grimace Bounce & Bend, and the Mad Professor Slide. I have a lot of memories of my McDonaldland and this promotional film makes me pretty happy to see how everything looked when it was pristine and new.