Mickey D's & Walt Disney World's 50th Celebration

by Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer

The Happy Meal has been a McDonald's staple since the 1970s. For the kiddies (or collectible fans), these meals come in a colorful cardboard box and usually include a burger or nuggets, a small fries, a healthy snack, a drink and a toy of some kind.

Disney has a long history with McDonald's. Mickey D's (love calling it that) even had an exclusive deal with Disney for 10 years from the 1990s through the mid-2000s whereby McDonald's exclusively held the fast food rights to Disney characters. That involved ads and happy meals for all Disney film releases. McDonald's restaurants also popped up all over Disney property. At Walt Disney World, we got a new elaborate eatery near the All Star Resorts (which is still there), one at then Downtown Disney (since closed) and even inside the parks (remember the outpost in Magic Kingdom's Frontierland?).

The health food craze of the late-2000s and beyond and the fact that Burger King wanted in on the action resulted in the companies not being quite so intermixed, but from time to time cross-promotions would still surface.

Such is the case with the newest collaboration between the two companies as McDonald's celebrates Walt Disney World's upcoming 50th Anniversary. There will, of course, be happy meals at your local McD's to commemorate the occasion and celebrate the most magical place on Earth (for the record, Disneyland is the happiest. Walt Disney World is the most magical).

The crux of the ad campaign is Happy Meals themed to WDW's 50th Anniversary. As befitting this milestone and in keeping with the theme, the main feature is a list of 50 toys that will be available with the meals. As per McDonald's, "each Happy Meal will feature one of 50 different figurines of fan favorite Disney characters from over the years". Think along the lines of the 50 golden sculptures that have been put up in the Walt Disney World theme parks to represent Disney history, only in the form of smaller figurines.

The included characters are from all over the Disney universe, including the animated classics (Bambi, Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland), Pixar hits oldish and new (The Incredibles and Soul) and, of course, the Fab 5 (or 6 depending on your point of view, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto). I'm including a full list of these below.

Again as per the press release "a few will even be donning 50th Anniversary Celebration Earidescent fashions".

Mickey Mouse is donning his "Earidescent Fashions" in his Happy Meal toy incarnation in an Instagram ad I received from Disney Parks. ©Disney.

For you, dear readers, I made the sacrifice and ran down to my local McDonald's to check this all out for myself (OK fine, I'm also a Walt Disney World collectible nerd and like hamburgers, but I digress). I went to the counter, used the handy dandy new massive touch screens you now use to order and bought 3 happy meals. I left what I got to chance and didn't specify which toys I wanted. I just asked the nice man behind the counter to make sure I got 3 that were different so I could show you some variety.

The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Happy Meal contained a burger, apple slices and a great collectible toy (fries not pictured – I got hungry in the car). Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

The meals were nice and 4.99 each. I got 2 meals with the cheeseburger as the main item and one with a four piece Chicken McNuggets (I will admit that my 2 dogs, who were lurking when I got home, may have shared in the burgers). They also come with a choice of water or milk, a small small container of french fries (I said small twice on purpose – it was kiddie sized) and a healthy snack of sliced apples. In keeping with the theme, the apples were in a plastic package with the image of none other than Daisy Duck and the WDW 50th logo on the front.

My sliced apples came with a helping of Daisy Duck. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

All that said, I understand you don't come to MousePlanet to talk about food. You want to know about the toys and what gives the happy meals their taste of Disney.

Happy meals generally come in a colorful cardboard box and this is no exception. It's actually a pretty big box with the McDonald's golden arches as handles. A big image of Cinderella Castle with the 50th logo and fireworks in the background is on the front. The sides have pictures of all 50 available toys, so you can see the entire collection in one (or two) shots.

The Happy Meal box has pictures of all the available toys on the sides. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

As for the toys themselves, my first thought is that these would work like baseball cards, and that you couldn't see what you got until the package was open. These don't work like that. They come in clear plastic with the name of the toy on the front. You can actually see what you're getting. This means that as you collect, if you ask nicely, you may be able to talk them into giving you a different toy that you still need or that you'd like better.

The figurines are actually pretty well made. They're hard plastic and come with both a figurine representing a Disney character and a base with a Walt Disney World backdrop. There's a notch at the bottom of the figure that lines up with a peg on the base so you know how to place them.

The backgrounds on the bases are very cool. They are lenticular images, meaning they change as you view them from different angles. They are designed such that when you look at them from one angle, it looks like day, and from the other, it looks like night.

The three toys I got were completely different and came with three different lenticular backgrounds. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

The three figurines I got were from three very different worlds, though all worlds that are uniquely Disney.

The first was BB-8 of Star Wars final trilogy fame. He sits on a yellow base, to match his coloring, with a Galaxy's Edge backdrop, representing Hollywood Studios. The second was Timothy Mouse, Dumbo's wisecracking best friend and mentor from Dumbo. He has an image of Cinderella Castle on his base that switches between a sunny Florida day and a night filled with fireworks. Finally, I got Dante from Coco. He's Miguel's goofball dog that was actually my favorite character from the film (In addition to being a Disney nerd, I'm also a big dog fan – remember, I gave mine some of my valuable hamburgers). Dante has a day/night background of Epcot's Spaceship Earth.

The figurines/toys are all very cute and surprisingly sturdy. They measure approximately 3 1/2" tall and 3" wide. The wide variety of characters available and uniformity of size lend themselves well to a nice collection. If you're so inclined and like burgers, you can go for all 50. If you're like me and are less ambitious, you can limit yourself and go for whatever grouping of characters appeals to you. Again, you can see what you're getting ahead of time, so – while it's unlikely everything you want will be available at once – you can at least ask for what you'd like.

As promised, below is a complete list of the available toys (those marked with "Celebration" in the name are the ones decked out especially for the anniversary):

  • Abu
  • Bambi
  • BB-8
  • Bo Peep
  • Bruni
  • Celebration Chip
  • Celebration Dale
  • Celebration Daisy Duck
  • Celebration Donald Duck
  • Celebration Goofy
  • Celebration Mickey Mouse
  • Celebration Minnie Mouse
  • Celebration Pluto
  • Cheshire Cat
  • Cogsworth
  • Dante
  • Dory
  • Dumbo
  • Edna Mode
  • Flounder
  • Frozone
  • Genie
  • Groot
  • Gus
  • Hei Hei
  • Jaq
  • Jiminy Cricket
  • Joe Gardner
  • Lady
  • Lumiere
  • Mad Hatter
  • Miguel
  • Nemo
  • Olaf
  • Piglet
  • Pinocchio
  • Pua
  • Pumbaa
  • Rocket
  • R2-D2
  • Sebastian
  • Simba
  • Stitch
  • Thumper
  • Timon
  • Timothy Mouse
  • Tinkerbell
  • Tramp
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Woody

The Happy Meal promotion began on September 14th and is being advertised as running for a limited time, with no specified end date. I've also seen the wording "while supplies last," so – if you are interested – you probably want to visit the golden arches sooner rather than later. Though the Walt Disney World celebration is running for 18 months, I'm getting the vibe that these won't last nearly that long.

Again, for those of us that haven't made it to the Disney Parks in a while, this is a way to bring a little Disney magic home, especially during the big 50 event. The figurines are cute and collectible and any excuse to get burgers is all right by me!

Everyone stay safe and healthy. Thanks for reading and see you real soon!