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The Fascinating Story Behind McDonald’s Floating Restaurant: Unveiling the Truth

The truth about McDonald’s floating restaurant

McDonald’s is known for its iconic fast food restaurants around the world, but there is one restaurant that stands out from the rest – the floating restaurant known as the McBarge. Built for the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, Canada, the McBarge captured the imagination of visitors and became a unique attraction in its own right.

The McBarge: A Unique Concept

The official name of the floating restaurant was the Friendship 500, but it quickly became known as the McBarge because of its association with McDonald’s. Unlike typical McDonald’s locations, the McBarge had a more upscale feel, with art on the walls, wooden floors, and even real house plants. The interior was carefully designed to create a welcoming and comfortable dining experience.
One of the McBarge’s most notable features was its hidden kitchen. Instead of having staff bring food to the counter, it was delivered via a conveyor belt, adding a touch of novelty to the dining experience. The staff wore sailor uniforms, adding to the nautical theme of the floating restaurant.

A hit at the World Expo

The McBarge and the 1986 World’s Fair were a huge success, attracting millions of visitors from around the world. The restaurant itself was praised for its unique concept and became a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Its presence at the Expo was instrumental in putting Vancouver on the map as a mainstream tourist destination.
During the Expo, the McBarge used a tugboat to collect wrappers, cups and other trash that diners threw into the water, ensuring that the surrounding environment remained clean and pristine.

The fate of the McBarge

Despite its popularity during the Expo, the McBarge did not reopen after the festivities ended. In 1991, a real estate developer purchased the Expo site and decided that the barge had to leave the property. It was towed to Burrard Inlet, near an oil refinery, and later moved to a sawmill in Maple Ridge after being renovated in 2016.
Over the years, there have been hopes of reinventing the McBarge into a facility that could educate visitors about marine engineering and showcase Canada’s advancements in underwater technology. However, despite crowdfunding campaigns and petitions, plans appear to have stalled, with no recent updates on the project’s progress.
Today, the McBarge stands as a reminder of a unique chapter in McDonald’s history and the legacy of the 1986 World’s Fair. It may no longer serve Big Macs and fries, but its story continues to fascinate and intrigue those who learn of its existence.

In closing

The McBarge, or Friendship 500, was a floating restaurant built for the 1986 World Expo in Vancouver. It offered a unique dining experience with its upscale interior, hidden kitchen, and conveyor belt delivery system. The McBarge was a hit during the Expo and helped boost Vancouver’s reputation as a tourist destination. Despite its initial success, the restaurant did not reopen after the Expo and has since undergone several relocations and renovations. While its future remains uncertain, the McBarge will always be remembered as a fascinating part of McDonald’s history and the legacy of the World’s Fair.


What is the McBarge?

The McBarge, officially known as the Friendship 500, was a floating restaurant built by McDonald’s for the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, Canada.

How was the McBarge different from other McDonald’s restaurants?

The McBarge had a more upscale feel with art on the walls, wood floors, and real house plants. It also had a hidden kitchen and a conveyor belt system for delivering food.

What happened to the McBarge after the World’s Fair?

The McBarge was not reopened after the World’s Fair ended. It was towed to various locations, including Burrard Inlet and a sawmill in Maple Ridge, where it was refurbished.

Was the McBarge used as a film location?

Yes, in the early 2000s, the McBarge was used as a location for a Marvel Blade movie.

Has there been any attempt to repurpose the McBarge?

Yes, there were plans to repurpose the McBarge into a facility that could educate visitors about marine engineering and Canada’s advances in underwater technology. However, progress on the project seems to have stalled in recent years.

Can the public visit the McBarge today?

According to the latest information, the McBarge is not open to the public and its future remains uncertain.

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