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According to marketers, one of the draws of fast food chains is familiarity: a traveler can stop into a McDonald's anywhere in the country and know what to expect. The menu items will be the same, the quality will be the same, and the service will be the same. In most cases, even the store will be the same, or at least vaguely familiar, since McDonald's restaurants are usually built with the same exterior look and one of only a few general interior layouts.
That is why it is noticeable when one of the chain's stores breaks the trend, and goes for a different design. Since the restaurants are franchises, individual owners can sometimes express their own creativity when constructing their buildings. Below are some of the more creative McDonald's buildings I have come across. I am sure there are others; let me know if you have any in your area.
Giant Happy Meal
This McDonald's is in a very visible location along I-635 in North Dallas, and shows off for the crowds by having a very atypical design. The building is shaped like a giant Happy Meal. Or rather, the enclosed play area is shaped like one of the old Happy Meal boxes, while the rest of the building is adorned with giant replicas of hamburgers and French fries.
The inside of the building is almost as unusual as the outside: it's actually nice. The interior is adorned with black marble, and even the bathrooms look like something out of a 4-star hotel. The food is still standard McDonald's, though.
Air and Space McDonald's
Ronald McDonald is a multi-faceted clown, who wears many hats and is a bit of a thrill-seeker. Not too far from Eureka Spring is the town of Springdale, Arkansas, where the local McDonald's is adorned with an airplane. That's right: a twin-engine turboprop hovers above the roof, piloted by the Hamburgler. Ronald stands on the tail, apparently performing some dangerous aerial stunt.
Not content to merely fly through the atmosphere, Ronald has also dabbled in the space program. In a suburb of Atlanta, I spotted this McDonald's complete with a McNASA space McShuttle. On the side of the shuttle is painted the words "Ronald McDonald - Pilot".
Finally, on I-44 near Vinita, Oklahoma stands what is billed as the world's largest McDonald's. Correct that: over I-44 stands the world's largest McDonald's. Here the famous golden arches span over all 4 lanes of highway, with the supersized restaurant forming an overpass. You can enter the building from either side of the highway and eat your McNuggets while looking down at the McTraffic below.
I know there must be other odd McDonald's out there, so if you have photos, please share.