In the Dino-land area of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park, there’s a small restaurant that looks like this:

Where have I tasted this before?

After a fun morning of Finding Nemo: The Musical! for the little one and various Dinosaur rides for the 6 year old, we thought we’d give this unassuming eatery a try. We ordered chicken nuggets, one burger, a veggie burger and a bacon double cheeseburger.

My wife arrived at the table with food, all very generically plated and packaged. In the back of my mind I thought it smelled like McDonald’s, but shrugged off the thought, since my wife explained that there was a self serve burger dressing station where customers add ketchup, pickles, sauces etc.  My son picked at his burgers, focusing on the side of grapes instead. My toddler didn’t like the nuggets. I ate my bacon double cheeseburger and my wife her veggie burger, but only because we were very hungry.

Later on I let out a burp that has a strong marker on my brand brain – a McDonald’s burp. Increasingly suspicious,  I went on the Disney World website and found this:

Hidden in the small print

Hidden in the small print

It all makes sense. Disney and McDonalds have been co-branding partners for years, with Disney providing toys and advertising for Happy Meals since Happy Meals first appeared on the scene back in 1980. When McDonald’s agreed to open a restaurant right in Dino Land, the Disney branding exec probably convinced the McDonald’s guy that since the area of the theme park is trying to appear 100% like a land where the last civilized dinosaurs lived and spoke English and enjoyed certain modern amenities, that the McDonald’s brand might seem out of place.

White labelling a McDonald’s as Restaurantosaurus at Disney World is problematic

1) Most people leave thinking “that was a pretty crappy meal, they’re like a wannabe McDonald’s without the packaging and bright colours”. Negative points for Disney.

2) Looking at the reaction of most of the kids there, they didn’t look the way kids look when they’re eating McDonald’s. For all its culinary mediocrity, McDonald’s is fun. That fun is a result of all the brand efforts – furniture, packaging, naming, colours, characters etc.. McDonald’s food without McDonald’s branding doesn’t taste as good. A depressing realization for McDonald’s fans. Negative points for McDonald’s

There probably is a way of discreetly letting customers know McDonald’s is involved. The complete non-mention of one of the two brands is confusing. The fact we paid $28 for it was a total rip off.

Tomorrow we’re bringing ham and cheese sandwiches to the park. I’ll report back to you on what the security guards say when they search our bags.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Love that. Keep going, George 🙂
    “Later on I let out a burp that has a strong marker on my brand brain”

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Brand Reminders, Co-Branding, Frame of Reference


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