HOLIDAY

Essentially the most-missed Disneyland meals is the McDonald’s fry wagon

Even in the event you didn’t know what was ahead of you, you knew what you ended up going for walks in the direction of. The odor was unmistakable. Swap the nook from Disneyland’s New Orleans Sq., transfer the Mark Twain Riverboat, and there it was — 4 spoked wheels, picket-slat partitions and thick canvas stretched throughout the prime, emblazoned with one iconic phrase: “Westward ho!”

The speedy-company cart in Frontierland was technically termed Conestoga Fries, named instantly after the included wagon that motivated the kiosk’s design and elegance. However they weren’t simply any fries. They ended up probably the most most well-liked french fries in America — which is why it’s possible you’ll know the cart by its much more colloquial identify, the McDonald’s fry wagon. 

Disneyland has a in depth historic previous of partnering with producers. Proper in any case, if Walt Disney hadn’t inked a television take care of ABC upfront of the park’s opening, the agency wouldn’t have skilled adequate income to make the park within the preliminary location.

A number of the sights throughout the park ended up even sponsored by companies. Tomorrowland employed to family some factor termed the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry. These naming rights ended up specifically prevalent when it got here to meals. There was the Welch’s Grape Juice Stand, the Rooster of the Sea Pirate Ship and Casa de Fritos, a Mexican-themed cafe wherein Rancho del Zocalo stands now, which is the very spot precisely the place Doritos had been being invented within the early Nineteen Sixties. 

Above the numerous years, the sponsorships undoubtedly turned much more highly-priced in Disney parks, however the naming rights grew to turn into further delicate. Proper now, the formal determine of Crimson Rose Taverne in Fantasyland is de facto “Crimson Rose Taverne hosted by Second Maid” even nevertheless the model title is extremely tiny and delicate on the indication, meant to de-emphasize Second Maid and emphasis on Disney’s cafe determine. The precise with the Dole Whip stand outdoor the Enchanted Tiki Residence — it’s formally “Tiki Juice Bar offered by DOLE PACKAGED Meals,” though I’m not optimistic I’ve ever learn any individual say one thing near that. So though McDonald’s sponsored Conestoga Fries, it was rarely formally known as the “McDonald’s Fry Wagon” (with the exception, of system, of its “official” title within the coronary heart of anyone who at any time requested from it). 

Merely name it Westward Ho! Get in contact with it the McDonald’s Fry Wagon. Join with it Conestoga Fries. It doesn’t make a distinction the way you determine it, given that 1 matter is universally agreed on: What acquired handed via that window was appropriately crisp and delicately salty, probably the most delicious iteration of a french fry you can ever hope to please in. 

The fry wagon opened in 1998, as portion of a deal in between Disney and the quick foodstuff chain that offered licensing of Disney characters for Joyful Meals toys and in-restaurant promotions. As portion of the deal, McDonald’s turned the formal presenting sponsor of an total land in Animal Kingdom, which turned “Dinoland U.S.A. offered by McDonald’s.” 


The “Westward ho!” painted on the wagon’s roof was a nod to the aged Conestoga Wagons journey that utilized to occupy the placement in Frontierland that’s now Massive Thunder Mountain Railroad. That have, which opened only a couple months following Disneyland’s opening, would ship you throughout a grime hold observe of in a horse-drawn wagon, meant to evoke the emotion of settlers within the Earlier West. One wagon was emblazoned with the exact same phrase, while the opposite talked about “Oregon or bust.” It closed simply 4 a very long time in a while to make method for the Mine Observe By way of Nature’s Wonderland, which finally gave strategy to the “wildest expertise within the wilderness” that’s there now. The little western city that you simply expertise earlier on the shut of Vital Thunder Mountain Railroad is a holdover from Conestoga Wagons.

“Potato Meals stuff,” the fry wagon’s sign browse. “Eat hearty, spherical ‘em up! There may be gold in them thar fries.”

One other signal on the wagon look at: “Fries are normally glorious! Treats manly adequate for his hunger and delicate adequate for her taste.” In a nod to the “billions and billions served” on the McDonald’s cafe indications, there are tally marks totaling 49 “served” on the fry wagon signal.

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

LMPC/LMPC via Getty Photos, Courtesy of Getty

Along with the fry wagon, McDonald’s fries additionally appeared at Harbour Galley in Critter Area earlier than it served the bread bowls it has at the moment, and Disney California Journey finally opened a Burger Invasion cafe serving Huge Macs and different McDonald’s meals within the spot the place Paradise Backyard Grill is now. 

All of the meals objects from the golden arches remaining the park by 2008, a calendar yr following the licensing association expired.

Everyone I’ve ever heard speak concerning the fry wagon does so with the reverence ordinarily bestowed on a sacred, lengthy-shed partnership — and it’ll come up in dialogue an unusually giant amount in Disneyland speak. At minimal in my remark, there isn’t a single meals objects further sorely missed in Disneyland than these frequent fast meals stuff fries served in a particularly magical setting. 

“My beloved matter in Disneyland is the McDonald’s french fry wagon,” @st_laurens tweeted in 2015, a full 7 a few years simply after the wagon closed. 

“Bombest, and so they have been usually refreshing, method too!” @pwiscila tweeted in 2020.

“I consider concerning the aged McDonald’s French fry wagon in Disneyland way over I must,” @leighannk tweeted in 2019. “A real icon.”

I didn’t make my very first trip to Disneyland proper up till 2011 — Aug. 14, 2011, many because of the shock of smartphone photos with time and day stamps — so I by no means obtained the satisfaction of encountering Conestoga Fries. In truth, I don’t even actually really feel like I skilled to strive it to completely totally grasp why it holds these kind of an esteemed place between Disneyland meals of yesteryear. I’ve expert the euphoric pleasure of completely extremely popular, correctly salted, refreshing-from-the-fryer McDonald’s french fries. 

The wagon was on this form of important want on the park, with traces concerning the clock, that its fries ended up at all times piping heat. On a heat day, if you had been being hungry and craving consolation meals (or only a cheap snack), these fries must have hit on a completely distinctive stage.

“I’d willingly drop all of Frontierland simply to get the McDonald’s fry wagon again once more,” @schmoofy tweeted in 2021.

There’s a specified sort of Disneyland fanatic who nonetheless retains the fry wagon alive. You’re allowed to convey outdoor foodstuff into the parks, and I’ve considered individuals right this moment inside with baggage from McDonald’s fairly a number of events. Folks fries, though? Probably not roughly as nice. They weren’t created with pixie mud.