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Why McDonald’s in Arizona is the Only One with Blue Arches in the World

Thanks to city officials you won’t find any ‘golden arches’ in Sedona, Arizona. They’d only let McDonald’s build their franchise there if they agreed to change the colour of the sign.

Pale red buildings in front of a blue sky. There is a large blue M on both buildings with a tree behind them and some shrubs in front of them.
(Photo: Shutterstock/melissamn)

Picture a McDonald’s building. There are lots of windows, probably a drive-thru, and an iconic yellow ‘M’ curved like French fries on the side of the building. But that isn’t the case everywhere.

If you find yourself in Sedona, Arizona, you might come across a McDonald’s that appears to exist in an alternate universe.

How? Well, in Sedona, the so-called ‘Golden Arches’ are blue.

Arizona is a desert state known for famous tourist attractions such as the Grand Canyon and Route 66. But it’s also home to the world’s only blue McDonald’s logo.

So, how did this unlikely tourist attraction come to be?

A pale red wall with a large blue M on it
The unique logo has become a popular photo opportunity. Credit: Shutterstock/melissamn

Back to the ’90s

When McDonald’s wanted to open a restaurant in Sedona in 1993, city officials would only agree to it under two conditions – the sign had to be lower, and it wasn’t allowed to be yellow. They felt the traditional colour of the golden arches would be too distracting and too much of a contrast to the natural landscape of red rocks and blue skies. McDonald’s complied, and the only blue McDonald’s arches in the world were born.

A fast food tourist attraction

The unique nature of the blue arches has drawn in tourists from across the world, with hundreds of tagged photos on Instagram of people posing with the unusual logo. The restaurant has over 100 reviews on TripAdvisor, with one travel blogger saying that she felt like a kid again and ‘had never been more excited to order a cheeseburger combo’.

But McDonald’s isn’t the only fast food outlet with a unique sign in Arizona. It’s not even the only one in Sedona. A Burger King on a Sedona interstate that closed in 2018 also had a blue sign and a pale red building to match the natural landscape. And Sedona isn’t the only McDonald’s in the world to put a twist on the logo, either, or even the only one in America.

a pale red building with a blue square 'Burger King' sign in front of it
McDonald’s wasn’t the only blue fast food outlet in town. Credit: Shutterstock/QualityHD

Other unusual McDonald’s

It seems that changing the logo to suit the landscape or architecture of the surrounding area is something McDonald’s is happy to do across the world. The restaurant closest to the Champs-Élysées in Paris has a white sign, and two locations in California have also changed the color of the golden arches. Rocklin, California, has a bright red ‘M,’ and Monterey, California, opted for a more sophisticated look by changing it to black. There’s also a famously large McDonald’s in Long Island, New York, built inside an old farmhouse that has been dubbed the ‘McMansion.’

A building made of glass with 'McDonald's' in white at the top
Changing the McDonald’s logo to blend in seems to be an international trend. Shutterstock/Alexandra Lande
Long Island residents convinced McDonald’s to convert and not demolish this old farmhouse.

Besides changing the logo, there are several McDonald’s’ 37,000 branches worldwide that boast other unique features or are housed inside unique structures like the McMansion.

In New Zealand, dubbed ‘the world’s coolest McDonald’s,’ you can dine inside a decommissioned airplane.

In Roswell, New Mexico, they decided to really play into the theme and put a McDonald’s in a flying saucer, and in Dallas, Texas, they decided to build their own Happy Meal box. There’s even a McDonald’s in Guantanamo Bay.

There’s also a handful of spin-off restaurants across America called CosMc’s, which are space-themed drive-thru-only restaurants with a different menu.

The nose end of an aeroplane that is black and silver with a yellow stripe and has McDonald's written on it
New Zealand took ‘airplane food’ to a whole new level with this McDonald’s. Credit: Shutterstock/Brave Behind The Lenz
A glass flying saucer shaped building with a tall glass building attached. Both sides of the building have a yellow M on them
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was McDonald’s from the future. Credit: Shutterstock/Nagel Photography
A building in the shape of a Happy Meal box. It has yellow arches at the top and is painted with blue sky, clouds, and McDonald's characters
Dallas put the happy in Happy Meal. Credit: Shutterstock/James Kirkikis

It’s not just McDonald’s

Unique features or buildings aren’t exclusive to McDonald’s, though; places like KFC and Starbucks have also tried their hand at switching things up. The KFC building in Koreatown, California, is built to resemble either a giant bucket of chicken or a chicken itself, depending on the angle.

Starbucks built a café made of 29 shipping containers in Taiwan in an effort to be more sustainable, as the unusual shape allows for more natural light and less electricity. They also paid tribute to Seattle’s shipyards by building a café out of four shipping containers in Washington. And if you visit Burger King in Helsinki, you can experience their in-restaurant sauna.

In Koreatown, you can eat a bucket of chicken inside a bucket of chicken.
Six white shipping containers stack at different angles with a Starbucks logo on the side.
Starbucks tried its hand at some innovative architecture in Taiwan. (Credit: Shutterstock/topimages)
In Finland, you can enjoy steam and a grilled burger.

Where’s the weirdest building you’ve ever eaten? Leave your answer in the comments.

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