Youth share their fondest memories of the iconic McDonald’s Queensway outlet
The Japanese-themed outlet will close in December 2021 after 32 years of operation.
After 32 years of operation, the iconic McDonald’s Queensway outlet at Ridout Tea Garden will be closing once its lease expires in December 2021.
Situated within a Japanese-themed garden and surrounded by a pond, the fast food outlet is known as one of the most unique McDonald’s outlets in Singapore. It is also among the oldest outlets in Singapore since its establishment in 1989.
The site and its surrounding facilities has been put up for tender as part of the Queenstown Heritage Trail by the Singapore Land Authority.
With its rich history and impending closure, we spoke to several youths to reminisce their fondest memories of the place and what they will miss most of the iconic fast food outlet.
Unforgettable terrapin experience
“I used to go to McDonald’s Queensway every Sunday with my whole family when I was still in kindergarten and primary school. My father thought that it would be a great place for all of us to enjoy breakfast and be surrounded by nature. He was also really excited about the idea of his children playing with the terrapins in the pond since he grew up taking care of the terrapins.
“When I was about six-years-old, I once got bitten by one of the terrapins in the pond. I got a shock and fell on my butt because I was squatting. But I didn’t realise that right behind my butt was another terrapin, so I sat on it! I was so scared because I thought it was gonna die but thankfully it survived. It was a pretty traumatic experience but it’s still the only solid memory I have of that McDonald’s Outlet.
“When my siblings and I all started hating the idea of waking up at 8am for breakfast every Sunday, we stopped going completely. It was only in the last two years when we started to reminisce the times we went to ‘that McDonald’s with a turtle pond’. But when we went back there, not only did McDonald’s Queensway have little to no business, but it also shrank in size.
“It was no longer the McDonald’s that I remembered so I came to terms with the fact that the McDonald’s that I enjoyed frequenting as a child was gone. This probably made the news of McDonald’s Queensway closing a little easier for me. Although, it’s still a shame that such an establishment with so much history is closing down.” – Christina Loh, 18, Student
Hearing the sounds of nature
“I’m visually impaired so, my best memory was eating a meal alongside my friends while feeling the breeze coming from outside the outlet, calming me down. I also enjoy the sounds of nature around me, from pigeons cooing in the day to cricket sounds at night.
“I enjoyed hugging the Ronald McDonald’s statue located near the parking lots when I was about nine years old because that statue is one of the aspects of McDonald’s which I can physically feel and identify with.
“I do not mind the closing because as historic as it may be, I believe something better can take its place. I hope the area will become an attraction where both Singaporeans and tourists can go, which fits in with the Japanese garden theme.
“Preferably an inclusive one with ramps as well as braille so that both a physically impaired and a visually impaired person like me can enjoy the new attraction.” – Edwin Tan 26, Business Development and Marketing
The place for birthday parties and fun childhood memories
“When I was around the age of three to five, I had a birthday party at this exact outlet. My parents thought it was a unique venue, and McDonald’s provided a special room with decorations for birthday party celebrations.
“After eating and blowing out the candles, my friends and I excitedly went to look at the terrapins in the pond and then went to the playground. I would always end up meeting new kids and making friends with them while playing hide-and-seek tag at the play area.
“I remember wishing every McDonald’s outlet had a playground like the Queensway outlet. As I was — and still am — an animal lover, I could spend an hour just staring at the terrapins swimming around and attempting to climb up the rocks.
“With my other childhood favourite McDonald’s at Science Centre closed last year, this news makes me sad that the nostalgia will soon be gone. I will never be able to bring my future kids to the McDonald’s outlets that made me more excited for the venue over receiving Happy Meal toys. I now wish I visited them more often as a teenager.” – Shannon Kuan, 19, Intern
A welcomed Japanese retreat from city life
“I enjoy the ambience of the McDonald’s outlet especially after shopping for sports paraphernalia at Queensway Shopping Centre. I also enjoyed hunting for otters in the pond and watching the mischievous creatures frolicking in the water while playing with one another.
“The Japanese ambiance makes it the most picturesque fast food outlet in Singapore in my honest opinion. I once went there to have the Japanese-themed Hokkaido Salmon Feast which consisted of the Hokkaido Salmon Burger, Green Tea and Yuzu Cream Cheese Pie. It felt very apt feasting on the Japanese-themed meal in the Japanese-themed branch, allowing me to enjoy a complete experience.
“I felt disheartened to know that one of the oldest McDonald’s outlets with such an interesting theme was closing. I hope whatever replaces McDonald’s can continue to be a respite to the bustle of city life.” – Jessica Chew, 27, Freelance Marketing Executive
A popular hangout spot after school
“I visited the outlet often during my secondary school days between 2011 to 2015. I’ll be there at least two to three times per week, even if it’s just for an ice cream after supplementary classes.
“Usually I’ll go there after school for lunch with my friends. We’ll sit there for hours to talk and do our homework or we will head there for breakfast after our exams too.
“The place will be filled with Queenswayans (Queensway Secondary School students) during lunch time and sometimes we’ll have to wait to get a seat. We will all eye for the air conditioned seats as it will be so hot in the afternoon! Sometimes we will share tables with other students when it’s super crowded and we don’t mind that at all since they were all familiar faces.
“The scenery is something I enjoyed the most as it is surrounded by forestry as compared to most outlets in the shopping mall. But apart from that, the convenience of the location allowed me to have a place to chill at after school.
“It’s a sad moment to see it go but I’m also excited to see what it will be replaced with. I hope it will be another fast food chain or an affordable place students can hang out at. That area is special for many Queensway students and it should always remain that way.” – Phavithra Mani Vannan, 22, Student
Written by Sarah Chan, Shannon Kuan and Naren Lee Sankar