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

Even if you did not know what was ahead of you, you knew what you had been going for walks towards. The odor was unmistakable. Convert the corner from Disneyland’s New Orleans Sq., go the Mark Twain Riverboat, and there it was — 4 spoked wheels, wood-slat partitions and thick canvas stretched throughout the leading, emblazoned with one particular legendary phrase: “Westward ho!”

The swift-company cart in Frontierland was technically termed Conestoga Fries, named right after the covered wagon that influenced the kiosk’s style and design. But they weren’t just any fries. They were being the most common french fries in The us — which is why you may know the cart by its extra colloquial name, the McDonald’s fry wagon. 

Disneyland has a long background of partnering with brands. Immediately after all, if Walt Disney hadn’t inked a tv deal with ABC in advance of the park’s opening, the enterprise wouldn’t have experienced plenty of cash to build the park in the initial put.

Some of the points of interest inside the park were even sponsored by organizations. Tomorrowland utilised to property a little something known as the Monsanto Hall of Chemistry. Those naming legal rights were being specially prevalent when it came to food items. There was the Welch’s Grape Juice Stand, the Hen of the Sea Pirate Ship and Casa de Fritos, a Mexican-themed restaurant wherever Rancho del Zocalo stands now, which is the incredibly spot where Doritos were invented in the early 1960s. 

Around the years, the sponsorships undoubtedly turned far more highly-priced in Disney parks, but the naming legal rights grew to become additional delicate. Right now, the formal identify of Crimson Rose Taverne in Fantasyland is truly “Red Rose Taverne hosted by Moment Maid” even though the brand name name is very small and gentle on the indication, made to de-emphasize Moment Maid and concentrate on Disney’s cafe title. The similar with the Dole Whip stand outside the Enchanted Tiki Room — it’s formally “Tiki Juice Bar offered by DOLE PACKAGED Foods,” while I’m not guaranteed I have ever heard any one say just about anything shut to that. So while McDonald’s sponsored Conestoga Fries, it was never ever formally called the “McDonald’s Fry Wagon” (with the exception, of training course, of its “official” title in the heart of any one who ever ordered from it). 

Phone it Westward Ho! Phone it the McDonald’s Fry Wagon. Get in touch with it Conestoga Fries. It does not make any difference how you title it, since one particular point is universally agreed upon: What acquired handed via that window was completely crisp and delicately salty, the most delectable iteration of a french fry you could ever hope to get pleasure from. 

The fry wagon opened in 1998, as component of a deal between Disney and the speedy food stuff chain that incorporated licensing of Disney characters for Content Meal toys and in-cafe promotions. As part of the deal, McDonald’s became the official presenting sponsor of an entire land in Animal Kingdom, which turned “Dinoland U.S.A. presented by McDonald’s.” 

The “Westward ho!” painted on the wagon’s roof was a nod to the old Conestoga Wagons ride that made use of to occupy the place in Frontierland which is now Major Thunder Mountain Railroad. That experience, which opened just a couple of months immediately after Disneyland’s opening, would carry you about a dust monitor in a horse-drawn wagon, intended to evoke the sensation of settlers in the Previous West. One wagon was emblazoned with the exact phrase, although the other stated “Oregon or bust.” It shut just 4 several years afterwards to make way for the Mine Educate By way of Nature’s Wonderland, which sooner or later gave way to the “wildest journey in the wilderness” that is there now. The very small western town that you journey past at the finish of Major Thunder Mountain Railroad is a holdover from Conestoga Wagons.

“Potato Foods,” the fry wagon’s signal examine. “Eat hearty, spherical ‘em up! There’s gold in them thar fries.”

Another signal on the wagon study: “Fries are generally excellent! Treats manly more than enough for his hunger and sensitive plenty of for her flavor.” 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 sign.

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

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

LMPC/LMPC by way of Getty Visuals, Courtesy of Getty

In addition to the fry wagon, McDonald’s fries also appeared at Harbour Galley in Critter Country in advance of it served the bread bowls it has these days, and Disney California Adventure finally opened a Burger Invasion cafe serving Huge Macs and other McDonald’s food items in the place in which Paradise Back garden Grill is now. 

All the meals from the golden arches remaining the park by 2008, a year right after the licensing settlement expired.

All people I have at any time heard focus on the fry wagon does so with the reverence normally bestowed on a sacred, very long-dropped relationship — and it arrives up in conversation an unusually large volume in Disneyland converse. At minimum in my observation, there is no solitary food additional sorely skipped in Disneyland than people common rapid foods fries served in a especially magical ecosystem. 

“My favourite detail in Disneyland is the McDonald’s french fry wagon,” @st_laurens tweeted in 2015, a full seven many years right after the wagon shut. 

“Bombest, and they were being usually new, as well!” @pwiscila tweeted in 2020.

“I imagine about the old McDonald’s French fry wagon in Disneyland far more than I ought to,” @leighannk tweeted in 2019. “A legitimate icon.”

I didn’t make my very first vacation to Disneyland until eventually 2011 — Aug. 14, 2011, thanks to the wonder of smartphone shots with time and day stamps — so I by no means obtained the enjoyment of encountering Conestoga Fries. Truthfully, I really don’t even really feel like I experienced to attempt it to completely comprehend why it holds these kinds of an esteemed position between Disneyland food items of yesteryear. I have seasoned the euphoric pleasure of completely warm, perfectly salted, clean-from-the-fryer McDonald’s french fries. 

The wagon was in these kinds of high desire at the park, with lines all around the clock, that its fries had been generally piping hot. On a sizzling working day, when you have been hungry and craving consolation foodstuff (or just a cheap snack), all those fries have to have hit on an solely diverse level.

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

There is a particular sort of Disneyland fan who even now keeps the fry wagon alive. You’re authorized to convey outdoors food stuff into the parks, and I’ve seen men and women inside of with bags from McDonald’s numerous times. People fries, although? Probably not practically as superior. They weren’t produced with pixie dust.