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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

No Admission Yet for the Golden Arches

September 25, 1998|E. SCOTT RECKARD | E. Scott Reckard covers tourism for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com

More than a year after Disneyland held focus groups on the subject, Mickey Mouse and Mickey D still won't say when McDonald's fries may go on sale at Disneyland. But Magic Kingdom traditionalists already are cooking up "Keep Disney McFree" protests, predicting McDonald's products are imminent at a site by Frontierland's Big Thunder Mountain.

"Disneyland is supposed to be the best in their industry," read one Internet posting this week. "McDonald's, on the other hand, is pretty much the epitome of quick, cheap and generic. Their presence can't help but cheapen Disneyland."

Others already were discussing the design of protest T-shirts. One volunteered to produce a logo consisting of Mickey M's ears perched atop Mickey D's arches inside a red circle with a line through it.

Back in July 1997, Disney was holding focus groups to see how the invasion of The Happiest Place on Earth by McDonald's fast food would play with patrons. At the time, McDonald's officials said they hoped to start test-marketing fries at Disneyland that summer.

McDonald's is in the middle of a 10-year promotional pact with Disney. In addition to hyping "Mulan" and "Armageddon" all summer, the Oak Brook, Ill., company has worked out deals to sell its fries, McNuggets and other offerings at Disney holdings in Florida.

As for the local theme park, "they've had discussions with Disneyland, but there's nothing to announce quite yet," a McDonald's spokeswoman says.

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