Playing At McDonald’s

Going to McDonald’s as a kid, at least for me, was a score. For one, we didn’t get fast food often, so whenever my parents took us to the Golden Arches it was a real treat. Secondly, it meant we got to play in the play place. Let’s just be honest here, nothing beats crawling around in play tubes while knowing that a plain cheeseburger and HI-C orange drink is waiting for you.

Because I had many fond memories of tearing it up in our local McDonald’s play place, I naturally wanted my children to have a similar experience as well. But we had to wait.

Due to the lack of play places in Myrtle Beach, we never took Sloan to one while we lived in South Carolina. Once we moved to Spokane, it goes without saying what was preventing us from hitting one up. In November of 2021, McDonald’s dining rooms finally re-opened in many of the Spokane restaurants. As Sloan and I ate inside the McDonald’s close to our house, I wondered when the play places would open too.

This is a photo of Sloan from Nov. 2021 when we ate inside a McDonald’s for the first time in nearly two years.

Well, it would be another long string of months. But luckily, the “play lands” are now open and kids can play their hearts out in between bites of chicken nuggets.

I took Sloan and Beau to the McDonald’s on Argonne for Happy Meals and play time last week. Not only was it my children’s first time in a play place, it was my first time in one since probably the late 1990s. As can happen with pleasant thoughts of nostalgia, the play place wasn’t as grandiose as I remembered it. Smaller and flimsier than I recalled, it mirrored more of an at-home set up as opposed to something you would find at a fun center.

Beau looks out from the “globe” feature of the McDonald’s play place on Argonne in the Spokane Valley.

Not like it mattered to Sloan and Beau. They descended upon that structure and let loose. In fact, I had a difficult time corralling them to our table to eat their dinners. That was a dad rookie mistake that I will improve upon next time (ADJUSTMENT: Make it mandatory that they eat first before entering the play place).

Sloan and Beau sure had fun in the play place at the McDonald’s location on Argonne.

So even though they prioritized the play place over their food, I was pleased that the kids had a ball. However, one other thing besides my false notions of a swanky structure disappointed me: the cleanliness. Not going to lie, it appeared that not just the play structure itself but the entire separate section that houses it could have benefited from a good scrub down. The streaks on the equipment, messy tables, and overall smell didn’t necessarily endear itself to me.

With the play place as the ultimate distraction, it was tough to get Beau to our table to eat.

But the kids had fun.

I think we might try another play place at another McDonald’s location in the area.

I think we might “shop around” at other area McDonald’s and check out their play places. I do like the concept of “eat and play” but I want to find a location that better conforms to my romanticized, idealized memory of what a play place is all about. Don’t Blink.

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