As if the School Board knows how badly the Midwestern winters suck the life out of me, the kids always have a five day weekend in February about a month before their week-long Spring Break. Officially the break is for spring semester Parent/Teacher Conferences and President’s Day, but I used this year’s free days to take my 4th grader to the Southeast to experience first-hand some of the places, history, food, and culture she’s studying in school right now.
When we first started planning our trip to Atlanta, we ruled out the World of Coca-Cola after reading some of the reviews we found online at Trip Advisor. After all, who would want to spend precious vacation time and money at what sounds like a shrine to carbonated sugar water, something my kids are rarely allowed to even drink? But after several people told us how much they enjoyed their visit, I added it back into our itinerary. Most likely my daughter’s sudden change of heart was tied to people telling her she could sample Coke products from around the world. (See my earlier statement about how my kids aren’t really allowed to drink soda…) If nothing else, it was only a few blocks away from our hotel and a perfect activity to fit into an otherwise blank space on the afternoon we arrived in Atlanta.
We arrived around 3 pm on a Wednesday. After purchasing our tickets — $12.00 for our daughter and $16.00 for Better Half and me — we hung out in a spacious lobby enjoying a Coke while waiting a few moments for the next tour to begin.
As the doors opened, and we crossed the threshold into the museum, it felt a bit like entering Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Or perhaps the house of an eccentric octogenarian aunt who has filled every inch of her house in homage to Coca-Cola. As a tour guide gave us a brief run-down of the 125 year old company, we soaked in the walls filled with Coca-Cola ads from around the world, the neon light signs overhead, and the display cabinets filled with all kinds of branded merchandise.
From here we entered the Coca-Cola Theater to watch a six minute film titled “Moments of Happiness.” Set to the Imagine Dragons song “I’m On Top of the World,” it follows nine groups of people through wonderfully emotional life events like an engagement, a new baby, a son coming home from abroad, and a milestone birthday. It didn’t really have anything to do with the history of Coca-Cola, as I was expecting, but it definitely made me smile (and wipe away a few happy tears). At the conclusion of the film, we were released into the museum to spend the rest of our visit exploring on our own.
Some of My Favorite Things:
- Throughout the museum, Coca-Cola bottles decorated by artists from around the world for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games are on display.
- My daughter really enjoyed seeing the bottling process in a slowed down, easier-to-follow speed than she would see at a fully functioning facility.
- We really enjoyed the Pop Culture Gallery that displays a variety of art inspired by the brand, from Santa Claus to American Idol to your own bottle art at one of the interactive kiosks. In fact, I loved this so much, a separate photo post will follow.
- There’s a lot to be said of a company that’s still going strong after 125 years. Not just because 88% of the Fortune 500 firms from 1955 are no longer on that list, but because of the visionary ideas that likely keep Coke on that list of global companies. I enjoyed learning more about the company’s shift from fountain sales to bottles and how it fired its entire sales team only to rehire them as a service team in order to speed up their transition to a new way of doing business.
- And, of course, we all enjoyed Taste It! and the opportunity to try Coke products from around the world.
A Bit Disappointing:
- The 365° video experience that preceded the vault where the one and only recipe for Coca-Cola is kept was a bit hokey.
- Several of the interactive “games” in the Milestones of Refreshments exhibit were either not working or not intuitive.
- As a fourth grader, my daughter is well past the age of appreciating people dressed upon in character costumes, preferring to spend time with Berlin at the Kansas City Zoo rather than the Coca-Cola Polar Bear. However, if you have younger children, or just really love the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, you’ll likely enjoy this part of your trip.
What about you? Have you visited the World of Coca-Cola? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
A few tips for your visit:
- If you are visiting Atlanta during a busy time of year, purchase your tickets in advance.
- Since this activity can be done justice in about two to three hours, consider going after lunch to avoid school field trips and other earlier-in-the-day crowds.
- As recommended for any city you visit, do the math before purchasing an Atlanta City Pass. They always look like a great deal on the surface, but if you’re not interested in or don’t have the time to visit everything included on your pass, you may be spending more than you need to via this option.
Don’t just take my word for it, here’s what a few other bloggers had to say about the World of Coca-Cola.