There was once a ball pit and slides. Now a harsh concrete area, void of any sign of life. Laughter and playtime at this McDonald's and so many like it was replaced with a meager, uncomfortable, and overall uninviting seating area. Hard benches with sharp edges that are just the perfect height for a child to smack their face on them while running excitedly to show their mother a chicken nugget that looks like their cat.

No umbrellas to block the sun or rain. No reason to sit there to enjoy your Big Mac with the wind tearing through you and blowing away your napkins. No fun. It's just cold and sad.

According to several sources online, the playgrounds disappeared from our favorite fast food joints several years ago because children were more interested in staring at their phones than playing on slides. I know phones and tablets are fun, but I still see children playing at local parks, so I find that sort of hard to believe.

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Another reason you may find for the fun being totally sucked out of McDonald's and places like it are the complaints about cleanliness. If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you found a couple of strange things in the ball pit from time to time, but I don't recall anything sinister. Find a wet spot? Eh, just a little pee from someone else's kid. Gross, yes...but 7-year-old you just brushed it off and kept going.

There were also several reports of injuries and the helicopter moms out there just couldn't handle little Johnny getting a cut or a bruise. I don't think McDonald's is really to blame for those. You aren't just supposed to turn the kids loose and look the other direction. My mom watched us like a hawk. Nobody ever got hurt. Did a few bad apples (Karens) spoil the bunch?

Either way, I can't help but feel a little sad when I see just how little joy is left in McDonald's for kids. My friends and I used to get so excited to go play. Happy Meals usually didn't even get eaten until we were all red and sweaty from climbing through the tubes on a 100-degree day. It was the highlight of the week.

They may say that kids stopped playing in the play areas because of technology, but I certainly don't see anyone enjoying the new seating areas outside either. It's just awkward. Is McDonald's still for kids? Asking for a friend...

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