Live in Wayfarer 3.1 is a new set of acceptance criteria! Please browse the information in this category with caution as it is in reference to the previous review guidelines. To learn more about the new criteria, see here:

The confusing case of the fast food playground

So I was scrolling through the AMAs and Criteria Logs to see how to explain Fast Food Playgrounds to people. And there's a lot of contradicting information.

In the AMAs alone there are 3 Answers confirming Fast Food playgrounds being eligible

Aug 2018

Q54: Playgrounds are 5* but what about playgrounds inside fast food restaurants?

A54: Like McDonald's Play Places? Aren't they commercial entities? The OPR guide says "ACCEPT if the candidate is in a park or community gathering place; falls under the criteria of public spaces that encourage walk and exercise."

March 2019

Q47: Your clarification from the September 2018 AMA about playgrounds at restaurants is unfortunately a hot topic of contention in our local community, and is often interpreted as "NIA is monitoring fast food playgrounds." Would it be possible to just spell it out with a definitive answer, such as 'Playground OK, Restaurant No'?

A47: This is exactly what the clarification said. NIA OPS said, “the playground typically meets the criteria of regular playgrounds...The business itself in the case of McDonald's would likely not meet the Portal criteria. So the playground is ok. Just don't try to submit every McDonald's location as those will get denied.”

Aug 2019

Q64: Hey there Andrew... hope you're well? was good to chat with you in Kaunas. What are NIA and yourself's feelings about Softplay areas for kids with regards to portal submissions? Inparticularly indoor ones?

A64: The response to this question is the same as the response in March to the McDonald’s playgrounds. NIA OPS said, “the playground typically meets the criteria of regular playgrounds...The business itself in the case of McDonald's would likely not meet the Portal criteria. So the playground is ok. Just don't try to submit every McDonald's location as those will get denied.”

However, there's another AMA answer that seems to contradict this.

Nov. 2019

Q49: There has been a lot of confusion regarding certain types of playgrounds. It seemed like indoor playgrounds, even McDonalds playgrounds, were canonized; then uncanonized in the new wayfarer guide(by requiring historical or cultural significance that no playground I’m aware of has), and then in the last AMA given a status as ok as long as it’s not a part of a business. Can we get clarification/simplification on this such as ‘playgrounds are valid as long as they are not on school property, a military base, or part of a daycare’?

A49: NIA OPS informs me that, “Playgrounds are eligible, as long as they are not located on primary and secondary school grounds, child care centers, day care centers, or private residential property. For these indoor playgrounds, if they’re publicly accessible play areas (like a generic playground in a mall), yes. If it's part of a commercial business (like McDonalds), no.”

And the most recent Jan 2020 criteria log has

Outdoor and Indoor Playgrounds

  • Acceptable: 
  • Playgrounds in parks and apartment complexes: accept one nomination per play area. If a Wayspot already exists for the play area, mark the individual play structures as duplicates of the play area’s Wayspot. For example, there shouldn’t be individual Wayspots for the slide and swing set within a play area, but rather one for that playground overall.
  • Play areas in freely accessible areas of a mall.
  • Not acceptable:
  • Playgrounds in schools, daycares, or children's centers
  • Play areas attached to or within 40 meters of private residences 
  • Commercial play areas; review them as you would any business

Which leaves the Fast Food Playground in a bit of a limbo, since Playground at Fast Food areas aren't exactly commercial play areas. There's no charge to use them like a commercial business based around a play area. They're free to use and restaurants will let kids play on them regardless of whether or not they're there to eat. The only real limiting factor is that the indoor ones have open/closed hours with the restaurant. But all the above is true of mall playgrounds.

This also ties into the coin rides AMA clarification a bit.

Oct. 2019

Q41: Do coin-operated machine play areas like this in front of stores and in malls make acceptable portal candidates?

A41: According to NIA OPS, “This is similar to the McDonalds' Play Area question - if this is a publicly accessible play area in the mall, yes. If it's part of a commercial business, no.”

Which implied that coin rides were similar to the McDonalds playgrounds clarification, where they were acceptable. This clarification held true in the Criteria Clarification logs posted in both Oct.2019 and Jan.2020 Updates.

So I'm wondering if the clarification saying McDonalds playgrounds were an example of commercial business was different perspective (like we've seen before) or if this was indeed the nixing of all playgrounds inside fast food locations?



  • GearGlider-PGOGearGlider-PGO Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yeah, I'd appreciate Niantic to look into fast food restaurant playgrounds again as well. With the multiple contradictory clarifications from the AMAs and the more ambiguous clarification from the wayfarer update log, it would be nice to know what the deal is.

    Especially like what @AgentB0ss-ING brought up earlier. Pay-playgrounds like Chuck E Cheese would definitely be the generic business playgrounds that I think Niantic meant to strike down with the Jan 2020 clarification, but the free playgrounds at places like McDonalds were always fine until one of the AMA answers mentioned McDonalds as a generic business. So the free access playgrounds at those restaurants might be perfectly within guidelines.

  • patsufredo-PGOpatsufredo-PGO Posts: 4,125 ✭✭✭✭✭

    So, by the same analogy would any object that represent a business (i.e. Ronald statue in McDonalds) eligible too?

    Happened to see some of them nominated in my country, as well.

  • TheFarix-PGOTheFarix-PGO Posts: 5,063 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2020

    Mass produced objects/art are ineligible regardless of whether they represent a business or not.

  • PaladinodoPoGo-PGOPaladinodoPoGo-PGO Posts: 32 ✭✭

    Review them as any business =

  • grendelwulf-INGgrendelwulf-ING Posts: 301 ✭✭✭✭

    Reject them as generic business as per the guidelines.

  • GearGlider-PGOGearGlider-PGO Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's not about the business though, that would be like saying you should review a Mural like a business just because it's on the wall of one.

  • grsmhiker-INGgrsmhiker-ING Posts: 173 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2020

    I've always interpreted that phrasing to mean that a playground in McDonalds is a "commercial play area" (and therefore, to be rejected), but now that I read it more closely I'm starting to doubt that interpretation... hear me out here: the AMA question specifically asks about coin operated games, and the answer says to accept play areas that are freely accessible to the public. So perhaps I've been interpreting it wrong, and that answer is referring to businesses where games, inflatables, and rides are behind an area that requires money/wristbands/coins to access or play - i.e. the play areas are the commercial aspect. In contrast, you don't have to make a purchase to access the McDonalds play area... even though it might be considered tacky to freeload by showing up to let the kids play without purchasing food.

  • Gazzas89-PGOGazzas89-PGO Posts: 2,600 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would read it as if you have to pay to use the playground, its commercial, if it's free to use, then it's good.

  • grsmhiker-INGgrsmhiker-ING Posts: 173 ✭✭✭✭

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who's thinking this way. I'd love some official clarification about whether the fact that the paid play areas are the core of the business (as opposed to making, say, a restaurant more attractive) is what makes them ineligible.

  • GearGlider-PGOGearGlider-PGO Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • Gendgi-PGOGendgi-PGO Posts: 3,504 Ambassador
    edited May 2020

    I used the Wayfarer Criteria Clarifications form for a this question back in March, actually. I just found the email.

    Are play areas located inside a generic business eligible Wayspots? This has four [typo:gone] back and forth several times. They are totally [typo:typically] freely accessible (not that that matters - museums & zoos are eligible) and frequently used as social gatherings for children's functions and are valuable play areas for much of the world during inhospitable weather.

    This was submitted back in March. It's been a few months since since we've had any new clarifications posted.

    Post edited by Gendgi-PGO on
  • Spa3tacus-INGSpa3tacus-ING Posts: 37 ✭✭

    @GeneralUltraTC-ING interessante questa e nuova non lo sapevo

  • PsychoX23-INGPsychoX23-ING Posts: 25 ✭✭

    i read it as they are trying to get McDonald's as a sponsor so no more free nominations for them until a deal is signed.

  • GearGlider-PGOGearGlider-PGO Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I mean, they made AMA comments saying to approve McDonalds playgrounds when McDonalds already had a PGO sponsorship in some countries.

Sign In or Register to comment.