November 30, 2023


Food & Travel Enthusiast

The most-missed Disneyland food stuff is the McDonald’s fry wagon

Even if you didn’t know what was in advance of you, you knew what you ended up strolling toward. The scent was unmistakable. Turn the corner from Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, go the Mark Twain Riverboat, and there it was — 4 spoked wheels, picket-slat walls and thick canvas stretched throughout the top rated, emblazoned with 1 legendary phrase: “Westward ho!”

The swift-company cart in Frontierland was technically termed Conestoga Fries, named following the protected wagon that encouraged the kiosk’s style. But they weren’t just any fries. They had been the most well-liked french fries in The us — which is why you may know the cart by its extra colloquial identify, the McDonald’s fry wagon. 

Disneyland has a long heritage of partnering with brands. Soon after all, if Walt Disney hadn’t inked a tv offer with ABC prior to the park’s opening, the company wouldn’t have experienced plenty of dollars to establish the park in the initially put.

Some of the points of interest inside the park ended up even sponsored by companies. Tomorrowland used to property some thing called the Monsanto Corridor of Chemistry. Those people naming legal rights were particularly common when it came to food stuff. There was the Welch’s Grape Juice Stand, the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Casa de Fritos, a Mexican-themed restaurant where Rancho del Zocalo stands now, which is the incredibly location exactly where Doritos had been invented in the early 1960s. 

Over the many years, the sponsorships certainly grew to become a lot more expensive in Disney parks, but the naming legal rights became extra delicate. Today, the formal title of Pink Rose Taverne in Fantasyland is truly “Red Rose Taverne hosted by Minute Maid” even even though the model name is very tiny and light-weight on the indicator, developed to de-emphasize Moment Maid and emphasis on Disney’s restaurant identify. The similar with the Dole Whip stand outside the house the Enchanted Tiki Home — it’s formally “Tiki Juice Bar presented by DOLE PACKAGED Foodstuff,” even though I’m not certain I’ve ever listened to any one say everything shut to that. So whilst McDonald’s sponsored Conestoga Fries, it was under no circumstances formally referred to as the “McDonald’s Fry Wagon” (with the exception, of system, of its “official” name in the coronary heart of anybody who ever ordered from it). 

Phone it Westward Ho! Contact it the McDonald’s Fry Wagon. Phone it Conestoga Fries. It doesn’t issue how you name it, due to the fact just one matter is universally agreed on: What received handed by that window was beautifully crisp and delicately salty, the most delicious iteration of a french fry you could at any time hope to love. 

The fry wagon opened in 1998, as portion of a offer among Disney and the rapidly food items chain that provided licensing of Disney figures for Satisfied Food toys and in-restaurant promotions. As portion of the deal, McDonald’s turned the formal presenting sponsor of an overall land in Animal Kingdom, which grew to become “Dinoland U.S.A. introduced by McDonald’s.” 

The “Westward ho!” painted on the wagon’s roof was a nod to the aged Conestoga Wagons experience that employed to occupy the spot in Frontierland that is now Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. That trip, which opened just a couple of months following Disneyland’s opening, would deliver you around a filth monitor in a horse-drawn wagon, intended to evoke the sensation of settlers in the Aged West. One particular wagon was emblazoned with the exact phrase, although the other said “Oregon or bust.” It closed just 4 many years afterwards to make way for the Mine Train Via Nature’s Wonderland, which sooner or later gave way to the “wildest experience in the wilderness” which is there now. The small western town that you ride previous at the close of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a holdover from Conestoga Wagons.

“Potato Food stuff,” the fry wagon’s sign go through. “Eat hearty, round ‘em up! There’s gold in them thar fries.”

One more indicator on the wagon read through: “Fries are always superior! Treats manly sufficient for his hunger and fragile sufficient for her taste.” In a nod to the “billions and billions served” on the McDonald’s cafe symptoms, there are tally marks totaling 49 “served” on the fry wagon sign.

"Westward Ho, the Wagons!" was a 1956 Disney movie starring Fess Parker that tied into the Conestoga Wagons attraction at Disneyland.

“Westward Ho, the Wagons!” was a 1956 Disney movie starring Fess Parker that tied into the Conestoga Wagons attraction at Disneyland.

LMPC/LMPC through Getty Pictures, Courtesy of Getty

In addition to the fry wagon, McDonald’s fries also appeared at Harbour Galley in Critter Nation ahead of it served the bread bowls it has nowadays, and Disney California Adventure sooner or later opened a Burger Invasion restaurant serving Large Macs and other McDonald’s foods in the location where Paradise Back garden Grill is now. 

All the meals from the golden arches left the park by 2008, a yr soon after the licensing arrangement expired.

Absolutely everyone I have ever listened to focus on the fry wagon does so with the reverence normally bestowed on a sacred, lengthy-shed romance — and it will come up in dialogue an unusually superior total in Disneyland discuss. At the very least in my observation, there is no one food items a lot more sorely missed in Disneyland than individuals normal speedy meals fries served in a significantly magical ecosystem. 

“My most loved detail in Disneyland is the McDonald’s french fry wagon,” @st_laurens tweeted in 2015, a full 7 years right after the wagon closed. 

“Bombest, and they had been constantly refreshing, also!” @pwiscila tweeted in 2020.

“I feel about the old McDonald’s French fry wagon in Disneyland extra than I really should,” @leighannk tweeted in 2019. “A genuine icon.”

I did not make my to start with journey to Disneyland right until 2011 — Aug. 14, 2011, many thanks to the question of smartphone images with time and day stamps — so I never ever bought the enjoyment of encountering Conestoga Fries. Truthfully, I really do not even really feel like I experienced to try it to entirely have an understanding of why it holds this kind of an esteemed area among Disneyland foodstuff of yesteryear. I have expert the euphoric pleasure of perfectly hot, correctly salted, fresh new-from-the-fryer McDonald’s french fries. 

The wagon was in such large desire at the park, with strains around the clock, that its fries have been generally piping warm. On a sizzling day, when you were hungry and craving consolation food (or just a low-priced snack), individuals fries ought to have hit on an fully distinct amount.

“I would willingly eliminate all of Frontierland just to get the McDonald’s fry wagon back,” @schmoofy tweeted in 2021.

There is a sure type of Disneyland supporter who nevertheless keeps the fry wagon alive. You are authorized to deliver outside the house food into the parks, and I’ve found folks inside of with bags from McDonald’s lots of times. People fries, nevertheless? Possibly not just about as excellent. They weren’t manufactured with pixie dust.