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Are McDonald’s Ball Pits Safe?

Are the ball pits at McDonald’s safe for your kids to play in? Many parents have been wondering this for a long time, but notably during the COVID-19 pandemic. For many years, ball pits have been a mainstay of McDonald’s PlayPlaces, giving kids a fun and engaging play space. However, parents have begun to question if ball pits are worth the risk due to worries about their cleanliness and safety.

Exterior of McDonald's Restaurant in Chemong Road.

In order to allay these worries, McDonald’s closed its PlayPlaces during the epidemic and put in place safety precautions to protect kids.

However, concerns about the safety of ball pits have been raised in light of reports of injuries and unhygienic conditions there.

The history of McDonald’s ball pits, the issues with their safety, and the steps McDonald’s has taken to ensure their safety are all covered in this page.

We’ll also examine research and reports on ball pit security to assist you in deciding whether or not to allow your kids to play in them.

Key Takeaways

  • McDonald’s ball pits have been a staple of their PlayPlaces for decades, but concerns about their safety and cleanliness have raised questions about their use.
  • McDonald’s has implemented safety measures to address these concerns, but reports of injuries and unclean conditions in ball pits still exist.
  • Studies and reports on ball pit safety can help parents make informed decisions about whether or not to let their children play in them.

History of McDonald’s Ball Pits

If you were a child in the 1990s, you surely remember having fun at McDonald’s PlayPlaces playing in the ball pit.

Have you ever thought about the origins of these vibrant play places, though?

A British industrial designer named Eric McMillan, who immigrated to Canada in the 1970s, is credited with creating the ball pit, according to Vox.

A restaurant company hired McMillan to design a kids’ play area, and he came up with the concept of a pit filled with plastic balls.

Ball pits started to appear in restaurants and theme parks all over the world as the idea became popular.

Almost every McDonald’s store had a PlayPlace with a ball pit by the 1990s thanks to the fast adoption of the idea by McDonald’s.

But as time passed, questions concerning the sanitization and safety of ball pits started to surface.

A three-year-old Arizona girl was pierced by a needle in a McDonald’s ball pit in 1994, which sparked a national panic over the possible risks associated with these play places.

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Ball pits were still a fixture of McDonald’s PlayPlaces for many years after the event.

However, as Reader’s Digest notes, a lot of McDonald’s restaurants have been gradually getting rid of their ball pits in recent years due to safety issues and the challenge of keeping the balls hygienic.

Ball pits were formerly a cherished fixture of McDonald’s PlayPlaces, but because of worries about safety and hygiene, their appeal has declined recently.

Understanding the Safety Concerns

There are certain safety issues with the ball pits at McDonald’s that should be considered. Observe the following:

Bacteria and Germs

The potential for bacteria and pathogens to spread in ball pits is one of the main safety worries.

A research from Arizona State University found that indoor play spaces like ball pits can serve as a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms.

Diseases like E may be brought on by these germs. Salmonella and E. coli are particularly harmful for young children.

Choking Hazards

Choking danger is another issue with ball pit safety. Small balls are very likely to get stuck in a child’s throat, which can cause choking and other severe damage.

This is particularly true for younger kids who might not be aware of the risks associated with placing little objects in their mouths.

Injuries from Falls

Finally, there is the chance of suffering harm from falls. Ball pits can be thrilling and entertaining, but they can also be deadly if not kept up with.

Injuries like fractured bones and brain trauma are possible for kids who slip or fall on the balls.

Making sure that ball pits are as safe and sanitary as possible will help to reduce these concerns.

This includes keeping the balls clean and sanitary on a regular basis, watching over kids while they play, and making sure the ball pit is safe and properly maintained.

McDonald’s Safety Measures

McDonald’s takes seriously its responsibility to ensure your kids’ safety.

The business has taken a number of steps to safeguard the security and welfare of its clients, particularly children.

Here are a few safety precautions McDonald’s has implemented:

1. Cleanliness and Hygiene

McDonald’s has always made a point of keeping its locations clean and well-kept.

The corporation has taken further steps to make sure that its eateries are spotless and secure for patrons in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions consist of:

  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as door handles, tables, and chairs.
  • Providing hand sanitizer stations for customers to use.
  • Encouraging customers to wear masks or face coverings when entering the restaurant.

2. Ball Pit Safety

Due of safety concerns, McDonald’s has gradually removed ball pits from its restaurants.

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Ball pits were originally a common feature at McDonald’s PlayPlaces, but the firm has decided to get rid of them.

This choice was made in part due to the danger that ball pits for kids present for injuries.

Ball pits may be a breeding area for bacteria and germs in addition to being dangerous.

Ball pits have been eliminated from McDonald’s restaurants as a result of the fast food chain’s decision to put its customers’ health and safety first.

3. Crew Member Training

Each member of the McDonald’s staff is thoroughly trained in safe and hygienic procedures. These lessons cover:

  • Proper hand washing techniques
  • Safe food handling practices
  • First aid and emergency procedures

Additionally, staff employees receive training on potential safety concerns in the establishment and how to prevent mishaps by acting appropriately.

In conclusion, McDonald’s places a high priority on customer safety. The business has taken a number of steps to safeguard the security and welfare of its clients, particularly children.

McDonald’s is dedicated to giving all of its customers a safe and enjoyable experience, from sanitation and hygiene to crew member training.

Studies and Reports on Ball Pit Safety

Consider the conclusions of many research and reports on ball pit safety if you’re unsure whether McDonald’s ball pits are secure for your kids.

The security of ball pits at fast food restaurants and physical therapy offices has been the subject of numerous studies and reports by researchers.

In three play pits within fast food restaurants, a pilot study that was published in the American Journal of Infection Control aimed to find and confirm bacterial species that would be a possible health concern to kids.

According to the study, there are over 31 distinct species of bacteria in ball pits, including opportunistic diseases that can infect kids with compromised immune systems.

In another investigation from the University of North Georgia, opportunistic infections were discovered in the ball pits used in physical therapy clinics.

To lower the risk of infection, the researchers advised clinics to routinely clean and sanitize ball pits.

Ball pits can put kids at risk physically in addition to bacterial exposure.

Up to tens of thousands of bacterial cells were found on each ball in a research from the University of Georgia that examined six distinct ball pits spread out around the state.

Children who play in ball pits may get scratches, which increases the risk of infection, according to the study.

Overall, even though playing in ball pits can be amusing and exciting for kids, it’s vital to think about the dangers involved before letting your kids use one.

In order to lower the danger of illness, it’s crucial to make sure that the ball pit is routinely cleaned and disinfected if you choose to allow your kids to play in one.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are McDonald’s ball pits clean?

According to a study by the University of North Georgia, ball pits can have “considerable microbial colonization.” This means that there can be germs and bacteria present in the balls. However, McDonald’s has strict cleaning protocols in place to ensure that their ball pits are as clean as possible. The balls are cleaned and sanitized regularly, and the play area is also cleaned and sanitized daily.

Are ball pits at McDonald’s safe for children?

While there is always a risk of injury when playing in any play area, McDonald’s takes safety very seriously. The ball pits are designed to be safe for children to play in, with soft balls and padded flooring. The play area is also supervised by McDonald’s staff to ensure that children are playing safely and not engaging in any dangerous behavior.

Are there any health risks associated with playing in a ball pit at McDonald’s?

While there is a risk of exposure to germs and bacteria in any public place, including a ball pit, the risk is generally considered to be low. McDonald’s takes steps to ensure that their ball pits are as clean as possible, and parents can take additional steps to protect their children’s health by washing their hands before and after playing in the ball pit.

Are ball pits being phased out at McDonald’s?

There have been some reports that McDonald’s may be phasing out ball pits due to concerns about cleanliness and safety. However, as of August 2023, ball pits are still available at many McDonald’s locations. If you’re concerned about whether your local McDonald’s has a ball pit, you can contact them directly or check their website to see if they have a PlayPlace.


In conclusion, McDonald’s ball pits have long been a popular feature, but most locations have removed them due to cleanliness concerns.

Playing in a ball pit can undoubtedly be a lot of fun and excitement, but it’s vital to think about the risks that could be involved.

There are precautions that may be taken to lower the risk of infection, even though some studies have revealed that ball pits can house germs and bacteria.

For instance, you can reduce the spread of germs by routinely cleaning and sterilizing the pit area.

Parents and other adults who are responsible for children must ultimately decide whether to let them play in a ball pit.

In order to protect your child’s safety and wellbeing, you need to exercise caution if you decide to allow them to play in a ball pit.

This can entail keeping the pit area tidy and maintained, watching over your child at all times, and instructing them in good hygiene habits.

Overall, even though ball pits can be amusing and engaging, it is important to think about the risks and take precautions to reduce them.

You can help to ensure that your child has a safe and fun experience at McDonald’s and other play areas by remaining educated and taking the necessary steps.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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