Remember sitting at your first McDonald's birthday party, surrounded by colour, happy faces, excitement and food that you eat without cutlery!? A happy meal from McDonald's was the ultimate treat. The highlight of many a Christmas shopping trip with my mum. Fast forward a couple of decades and now my children consider a trip to the magical land of the golden arches to be the ultimate treat.
When I received an email inviting me to the Swansea branch of McDonald's, where I had my first ever chicken mcnugget experience, there was no question about it. I was going!
I don't think I've been to the Swansea restaurant since I was little, so just stepping inside the doors was a walk down memory lane. The layout hasn't changed a great deal, but everything else has moved on dramatically. iPads at the tables, self-service kiosks and table service! Nine-year old me would have been in her element.
I was invited to the store, along with fellow bloggers Alina and Kelly, to see the evolution of McDonald's restaurants; including new digital features for customers, an incredible array of technology in the kitchen and such an impressive and varied menu, as well as the option to personalise your order.
McDonald's franchisee Ron Mounsey hosted the event and was a joy to listen to, as he spoke about his job, the changes he has seen in stores over the years and the exciting plans for the future. We were introduced to the Swansea team and given our uniform for the evening, which my kids think is the coolest thing ever!
First stop was an explanation of the self-service kiosks. I hadn't seen these in a McDonald's restaurant before so this was all new to me. It's such a good idea and would make life much easier for me when taking three children into a restaurant. Plus, they'd enjoy being able to place their own order on the touch screen themselves. You can also easily customise your order yourself, just adding or removing items from your burger or meal on the screen before you complete it.
After a tour of the restaurant, staff facilities and food storage areas, we were let loose in the kitchen. Under close supervision, of course. This is where I was really impressed. The level of organisation and cleanliness was amazing. Not a bun out of place and the whole kitchen ran like clockwork. I was particularly taken with the wall of burger boxes, all colour coordinated and organised perfectly.
The best bit of the evening? Without question, being taught to make my own Big Mac. I have a real soft spot for a Big Mac - it's my guilty pleasure, if I fancy a treat. You just can't beat that burger sauce. So getting to make my own was definitely a highlight for me. Turns out the angle at which you place the cheese does matter and 13g of onion is exactly a pinch!
It was great fun getting to make my own burger. And even more fun getting to eat it afterwards. But the excitement didn't end there. We were lucky enough to be given a sneak peek at a new range of burgers - the McDonald's Signature Collection.
Wow. These burgers were seriously good. The black packaging, with striped paper inside, is very instagram-able and high end, with the products inside to match. The burger itself is delicious and, combined with a brioche-style bun and a choice of three flavours - classic, BBQ and spicy - McDonald's are on to a winner for sure. The range is available now from selected restaurants and, if you get chance to try it, I would highly recommend.
Nine-year old me thought McDonald's was the coolest place on earth all those years ago. The difference in 2016 is amazing and my mum would have had a tough job getting me out of there! I had a great time learning more about the company and the way it works. If you'd like to find out more, you can do so here.
*This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.