Visit Oz in Hoover

yellow brick road.jpg

NOTE: As of April, 2010, this McDonald’s completely remodeled. Alas, there’s no sign of a Yellow Brick Road any longer.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the making of the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, which created cultural icons in technicolor (Dorothy, Toto, and the bunch) and defined our mental image of a wicked witch. We couldn’t have had Halloween a few weeks ago without all the costumes with blue gingham dresses and red shoes or those pointy black hats.

If you or your kids are fans of the story, you should ride out your next Big Mac Attack (although none of us BirminghamMoms would acknowledge this phenomenon) in Riverchase near the Galleria. The McDonalds on Highway 31 across from the Galleria is a monument to the Wizard of Oz, complete with a yellow brick road that leads to the Emerald City (in this case, the restroom – oh, how appropriate for those of us who have had toddlers!).

The main decorating features include a display of large dolls from the Franklin Mint, like Glenda the Good Witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy and the Scarecrow. Near the back is a collection of smaller dolls that include the more obscure characters of the story. Although the restaurant’s theme is classic cinema, with photos of Laruel & Hardy, Shirley Temple, and the Three Stooges, Wizard definitely dominates.

Now, I can’t pretend this McDonald’s is anything more than a 25-year old establishment that has been operating continuously. She’s a little worn down at the heels, but you have to be impressed by the fact that the 80′s patterned formica tabletops have held up so well. The curving booths with padded seatbacks make good perches for watching the play area or portioning out Chicken McNuggets. Even if it’s not Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the kids will love the two funhouse mirrors stationed along the winding yellow brick path (an excellent diversion for when you are trying to order, by the way).

A Happy Meal is the same at any McDonald’s, so you may as well have yours in a restaurant that offers the novelty of characters the kids know and like. As much as anything, it’s an opportunity to appreciate an enduring story, uncommon talent, and a film that has entertained generations. Who knows? Seventy years from now, there may be a Sponge Bob Square Pants themed McDonalds. Sponges, Chumbuckets and Snails? Oh, my!