This Lafayette Backyard Features a Full McDonaldland Playground That Will Spark Instant Nostalgia
Walking into this Lafayette backyard is like walking back in time.
Recently, a Lafayette man stumbled upon a backyard that featured fully-erected McDonaldland Playland equipment—and despite its weathered condition, it's truly a sight to see.
Apparently, the residence that currently houses the McDonaldland Playland equipment once belonged to a McDonald's franchisee in the area, and the equipment is believed to have come from one of the first locations in Lafayette.
For those who aren't familiar with McDonaldland, it's a fictional fantasy world where Ronald McDonald and all of his friends live and play.
McDonaldland is a fantasy world used in a large collection of McDonald's commercials from 1971-2003 featuring a magical world setting inhabited by many quirky characters. They vary from clowns, animals and strange creatures, to food items.
A range of playgrounds that began to appear at McDonald's restaurants around 1972 featured slides, climbing stations, and other various McDonaldland character-themed equipment.
Depending on the era, the characters featured on these playgrounds often matched the characters found in happy meals and marketing materials.
Based on this post from Lafayette Memories, the playground equipment was likely from 1976 when Lafayette's first southside McDonald's location opened for business.
According to the Daily Advertiser article from April 18, 1976, the restaurant featured the McDonaldland Park in addition to an indoor water fountain, live plants, and "a beautifully decorated Ronald Party room."
The restaurant has some of the most modern features found in any McDonald's. One of the outstanding features is the McDonaldland Park which will be open free of charge to Lafayette youngsters.
It is believed that the playground equipment stood at McDonald's on Johnston Street until the mid-80s when it was moved to the backyard where it currently resides. A Lafayette resident is in talks with the current homeowner to purchase and move the McDonaldland Park fixtures in hopes of restoring them back to their original condition (or as close as possible).
One of the most recognizable characters in the collection of the McDonaldland gear is this Grimace fixture.
Much like the classic Hamburglar "jail" fixture (not pictured in this collection) this toy was made for kids to climb into and use their imagination. Even though there was no real purpose to the fixture, I remember it being one of the most memorable as well as the most fun.
This see-saw type of fixture was similar to the Fry Guy rides (also not pictured) as kids could just hop on and rock back and forth on the spring-mounted character-themed equipment. This particular character is believed to be a Filet-O-Fish.
Roundabout toys were also popular. This one in particular features the Hamburglar.
Slides were a staple in all McDonaldland parks, and I can still remember this one like it was yesterday.
As an '80s baby who eventually became a child of the '90s the heat that this slide put off on a hot summer day still lives rent-free in my head.
Apparently, I'm not the only one.
This one was a little tough to remember, but the minimal effort of a Google search revealed that this was a character known as The Professor.
But the most extravagant piece in this entire backyard collection has to be this featured Captain Crook castle twisty slide.
Some entries online have similar slides listed for $12,000 just to give you an idea of how much some of this stuff is worth—especially to the biggest McDonald's and McDonaldland fans and collectors.
If you scroll back up to the Daily Advertiser article from earlier, you can actually see the Captain Crook face on the slide when it was a brand new feature at the Johnston Street McDonald's location.
Pretty eerie and cool at the same time if you ask me. If you want to do a deep dive on McDonaldland and the associated Playlands based on their characters, there is a pretty decent amount of content out there.
I'll do my best to keep tabs on where this nostalgic Playland equipment ends up but in the meantime, I hope you smiled at least once during this blast of instant nostalgia.
If you did, be sure to pass it along to anyone who will get the same enjoyment out of this blast from the past.