New at McDonald's -- a musical playplace

McDonalds play areaAlong with happy meals, fast food giant McDonald's is now offering a musical play area to lure hungry kids and their parents in for a bite.

The play areas designed by Playtime Musical PlayPlace systems have over-sized keyboards, climbers, instruments and musical maps that incorporate activities such as using scales, notes and melodies.The revamped area may be a smart move considering the anorexic economy and cautious Americans cutting back on eating out. This year, the national percentage of meals eaten out or taken out declined from 50 % to 48 % with the national average of restaurant meals per week dropping from 3.3 to 3.2, according to a recent ZAGAT survey. Thus, restaurant chains are being forced to rely on creativity as they compete for a shrinking consumer base.

As of now, the new musical play areas seem to be hitting all the right notes. Steve Panos, owner and operator of a handful of McDonald's in the Greater Central New York area, said in a release that sales jumped 120 % over last year on opening week. And the stores have maintained 75% to 80 % increases week-over-week since.

So, watch out competitors. McDonald's new tune could cost some of you dearly.
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