I try not to go to fast food too often these days, but when I was a kid nowhere was a better trip than McDonald's. 

Before we go further, I'd like to say that even though I might not try to go to fast food places too often, I many times fail. I'm basically Jim Gaffigan in this clip.

But the reason to go when you were a kid was Happy Meals and the playground. My 'home" McDonald's was the one on N. 2nd across the street across from the Ponderosa in Loves Park. The playground there was pretty dangerous. The slide was metal which meant it could burn AND cut you. The shaking Grimace "jail" was rusty almost immediately. I was constantly getting trapped in the Mayor McCheese and my dad had to rescue me. Wood chips everywhere to give you splinters. It was awesome.

And it looks like it might have actually been safer than the original McDonald's playground that just so happened to be unveiled right here in Illinois during the 1972 State Fair. 

In the 10-day State Fair Aug. 11-20, an estimated 350,000 youngsters and their parents played in the 4,800-square-foot playground park in the Children's World area of the fair.


The McDonaldland playground equipment is an extension of the company's highly effective national children's television advertising campaign. In this campaign the world of McDonaldland is created with Ronald McDonald as the undisputed clown prince of this mythical domain.

Let's take a look at what they had:

  • CAPTAIN CROOK'S SPIRAL SLIDE - Overall height is 7'6". This piece was easily the most popular in Springfield.
  • EVIL GRIMACE BOUNCE & BEND - Overall height is 10 feet. The "bounce and bend" accommodates five to 10 children and the children hold onto the vars as the cage shakes back and forth.
  • HAMBURGLAR SWING - Overall height is 10'3". The arms of the hamburglar are outstretched and swings hang from each arm.
  • MCDONALDLAND TEETER TOTTER - This piece covers a ground space of 12'. This is one of the pieces, especially for the smaller children.
  • MAYOR McCHEESE ROUND-A-BOUT - This circular piece has an overall height of 3'9". This is another piece that is easier for the smaller children.
  • BIG MAC CLIMBER - The tallest piece of equipment with an overall height of 11 feet. It is a climbing tower with ladders going right to the top and a rest area at the first plateau.

Some of these are exactly what was at the McDonald's on N. 2nd. I don't know who Captain Crook is, but that is the spiral metal slide I was describing. The Grimace Bounce and Bend is the jail thing I was talking about. The Big Mac climber was what I was stuck in all the time.

No wonder it was so dangerous.

To be fair to the younger generation, your playgrounds were much safer, but the ACL tears you can see at the new trampoline parks make the cuts and scrapes we got on a metal playground look like, well, cuts and scrapes. We really weren't that tough.

LOOK: 15 Discontinued McDonald's Menu Items



More From Rockford's New Country Q98.5