McDonald's ongoing plan to redesign the restaurant chain's image hit Gilbert last week. For more than a year, franchisees across the Valley have been renovating existing restaurants to meet the Big-Mac chain's move toward a "chic" new look that includes leather seats, Wi-Fi and plasma-screen TVs.
But Gilbert's new restaurant at Val Vista Drive and Pecos Road is the first McDonald's in the state built according to the company's revamped "forever young" design that does away with the traditional hat-shaped roof and loud red-and-yellow color scheme.
"It is actually the first of its kind here in Arizona," McDonald's spokeswoman Rhonda Grundemann said. "Eventually, there will be more restaurants in Arizona with that design,"
But it's the new indoor playground, geared toward toddler-age children, that will get most people's attention, said franchise co-owner Keenan Strand.
"Toddlers really weren't getting a place to play," Strand said.
The play area's features are made of soft materials and include short stairs and a slide designed for small children.
"We're going to come here practically every day," Gilbert resident Nathan Braun said while watching his 20-month-old son play.
Strand said the playground was specifically designed to cater to Gilbert's higher-than-average population of children younger than 5.
Gilbert's younger population primarily consists of families with parents in their 30s and young children.
According to town officials, 11.4 percent of Gilbert residents are younger than 5.
For greater Phoenix, that number is 8.3 percent, and nationally, the figure drops to 7 percent.
"It's great for him, he's only 20 months old," Renee Braun said.
The Brauns said they would likely come back often for breakfast or just coffee and to let their son play with other kids.
"It also seems more hygienic," Nathan Braun said, referring to the easy-to-clean surfaces of the playground's rubbery trees and animals.