Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Archive for McDonalds

How Long Has This Been Going On?

OK, I’ll admit it.  When I’m out on adventures with the kids, we sometimes (gasp!) eat at McDonald’s.

We have a pretty standard order, and it’s usually in the same ballpark price-wise.  Today I was surprised at the price, and since my husband was along, I actually had time to look at the receipt in detail.  I was shocked and disappointed when I went back to the counter to question the manager.

My order for the kids was this:

  • 1 Hamburger Happy Meal, French Fries, Chocolate Milk, menu price $2.60.
  • 2 Chicken Nuggets Happy Meal, French Fries, Chocolate Milk, menu price $3.20.
  • 1 Chicken Nuggets Happy Meal, Apples, Chocolate Milk, menu price $3.20.

But on the receipt it looked like this.

  • 1 4NUG/AD HPY ML TOY $2.30
  • 1 HAMB/FRY HPY ML TOY $1.70
  • 2 4NUG/FRY HPY ML TOY $4.60
  • 4 CHOCOLATE MILK $5.80

These receipts have never been the easiest to decipher, which is probably why I didn’t figure this out sooner.

The “$5.80” is what caught my eye, so I broke it down, and found that I was paying $1.45 per milk above the Happy Meal price on the receipt.  This brought the Hamburger Happy Meal to $3.15 and the Chicken Nuggets to $3.75.  Each Happy Meal was $.55 more than the price in the menu.

I went to the counter and asked the manager about it.  I was directed to the “prices may vary” asterisk by the Happy Meal options and informed that the milk costs more than the pop does, so the Happy Meal with milk does as well.  (The asterisk was next to the french fry/apple dippers choice as well, but they cost the same, at least at this particular restaurant.)

I’ve been ordering milk with Happy Meals as long as I’ve had kids eating solid foods, which is about 7 years now, and this is the first time I’ve noticed that the milk cost more.  When my oldest was a toddler, the Happy Meals only cost $.10 more than the All-American meal (hamburger, small fries, tiny drink) so I would splurge and spend the dime to get him the little toy.  As my life got more hectic, I didn’t pay as much attention to the prices because I was just trying to get everyone fed and out of the restaurant in a well-behaved manner.  How long has this been going on?

What’s your experience with kids’ meals?  Do the healthier options cost more at other restaurants (fast-food or sit-down) as well?  I’m feeling really foolish right now and would love any insight you might have.

And, yes, next time I go in to McDonald’s, I’ll be pricing out the following: 1 hamburger, 3 4-pc. Chicken Nuggets, 1 medium or large fries, and 4 waters, to see how much these Happy Meals have really been costing me.

Minnesota Children’s Museum

Minnesota Children’s Museum

7th and Wabasha, Downtown St. Paul, MN. 651-225-6000. $7.95 Ages 1-101. Parking in adjacent ramp is discounted for MCM visitors. Reciprocity through ACM. Stroller accessible. Restrooms with changing tables available; diaper vendor available in Habitot area. Light menu available in gift shop; McDonald’s and Subway are just across the skyway.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum is a favorite location for our kids to visit. The first time we went there, five years ago, we had one toddler, two parents, an aunt, and an uncle, so keeping track of the child wasn’t too bad. With four children now, it’s a more daunting task. I had the choice of going on a Friday, just the kids and me, and face the school field-trip groups, or to go on Saturday with my husband and fight the Saturday crowds. We chose Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great museum. It’s just that everyone else in the Twin Cities seems to have figured this out as well, so on weekends and school holidays, it is very, very crowded. And although most of the museum is well-designed, the elevators are about the slowest ones I’ve ever seen, and the hallway in front of them is the narrowest part of the building, so the area by the elevators is crowded all of the time.

If you will be visiting for the first time, keep in mind that all the exhibits are on the second and fourth floors. If you enter through the skyway, you’ll already be on the second level, but you’ll have to go down to the first floor to pay, and then use the staircase or the (really slow) elevator to go up to floors two or four for the fun. If you accidentally get off on 3, you’ll have to wait for the elevator to come back again. Just remember, “4 and 2, there’s lots to do. 3 and 1, you’ll miss the fun.”

There are two traveling exhibit areas, which were showcasing Curious George and Sesame Street when we were there. These exhibits change every few months and vary in their interest levels for the kids. A Habitot area on the fourth floor is designed for younger tots and is a fun place for the younger set if you have another adult along to keep an eye on their older siblings, as it’s for ages 3 and under. A workshop area allows kids to be messy, er, creative, at different times of the day, and the atrium area on the second floor offers character meet-and-greets, story times, and “big fun.”

The three permanent exhibit areas are the favorites of my kids, however. World Works offers a paper-making studio, lights and shadows, a kid-sized factory (where my kids would spend all day if they could), and a water-and-bubble area that’s always a hit. Our World has a pretend grocery store and restaurant as well as a school bus, music studio, clinic, and other neighborhood role-play opportunities. In Earth World, the kids can crawl in a giant anthill, make their own thunderstorm, or watch turtles swimming. These areas are what my kids enjoy the most at the museum.

If you really want to enjoy the museum, watch the calendar for Habitot Tuesdays, when there are no school groups and they have special activities for preschoolers. The museum’s website also lists some other suggestions for visiting at quieter times.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum really is a fun place for kids, and even though we’ve been there many times, the kids enjoy going back again and again.

I really like going to the exhibits, especially the forest one, because I like doing the thunder and lightning.

Field Museum of Natural History

1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL. 312-922-9410. www.fieldmuseum.org
$12 adults, $7 ages 4-11, students with ID, and 65+. Discount for Chicago residents.
Parking $15/day. Stroller accessible. Restrooms with changing tables.
Restaurants available (including McDonald’s).
ASTC reciprocity.

I knew that the Field Museum was one of the “big” Chicago museums, but I wasn’t sure how kid-oriented it would be. I shouldn’t have been worried. First of all, if one of the museum restaurants is McDonald’s, I should have guessed that kids would like it.

We had taken the Metra train into downtown Chicago and had walked almost three miles to get to the Field Museum, so when we arrived just before noon, the kids were all hungry. We flashed our ASTC reciprocity cards, which allowed free admission to everything but a few special exhibits, and promptly found one of the largest McDonalds I’ve ever been in. They were well set up for families with lots of high chairs and a “cave” area with additional seating, but a stroller parking area would have been nice so that we weren’t blocking so much of the aisle with our single and double strollers.

After lunch, we headed out into the exhibit areas, learning about different civilizations, seeing the big elephant and Sue, the t. rex. Volunteers were on hand to help the kids with a giant floor puzzle of North and South America and to show them how to find fossils in the floor, which was a big hit for my six-year-old.

All areas of the museum were easily accessible with our strollers, but sometimes we got just a little bit lost. The exhibit areas make a lot of twists and turns, and if a child gets ahead of you and around a corner, it can be hard to find him. There were also a few exhibits where we got so turned around that we couldn’t easily find the way out.

We spent nearly three hours at the Field Museum, which is a long time in one building with our little kids’ short attention spans.

I liked putting together the map puzzle of the world.

I really liked finding fossils in the floor.

View of the Field Museum from the Sears Tower Skydeck

Finding Fossils in the Floor of the Field Museum

A Fossil in the Floor of the Field Museum

Giant Map at Field Museum