By Susan Shinn
ATLANTA ó There’s now even more to see in the world of Coca-Cola.
A new and expanded World of Coca-Cola opened May 24 in Atlanta. The Coke museum is now adjacent to the Georgia Aquarium, which opened last summer, and the two facilities are already enjoying a good relationship, with visitors going back and forth between each.
While the aquarium has already welcomed its 5 millionth visitor, the crowds at the Coke museum are thankfully smaller.
My son Andrew and I visited early on a Saturday morning, which seems to be the best way to go if you must visit on a weekend.
The World of Coca-Cola is 62,000 square feet of everything you need to know about the world’s most popular soft drink.
As you enter the lobby, the first stop is the obligatory photo opp in front of a display of giant Coke bottles. Then it’s on to the pre-show gallery, full of Coca-Cola signs and memorabilia. From there, you enter a theater for a short film, “Inside the Happiness Factory.”
Have you seen the Coke commercial about what goes on inside a soft drink machine once the quarters go in?
This “documentary” is a extension of that commercial, with characters who are just too cute.
From the theater, visitors can make their way to the hub to explore different areas of the museum.
There’s the Secret Formula 4-D Theater, where an eccentric scientist and his assistant try to uncover the mysterious secret formula for Coca-Cola.
Yeah, good luck with that. When I saw the warning that said “visitors with motion sickness should not go on this ride” I went right on through the exit to wait for Andrew.
From there, we visited the Pop Culture gallery, which has a display of Andy Warhol pop art through May 2008.
There’s the Milestones of Refreshment, an interesting gallery which traces the history of Coca-Cola. The soft drink was invented in 1886 by John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist. He died two years later, before seeing his invention become a worldwide phenomenon.
By 1920, there were 775 bottling plants. In the 1950s, Coke drinkers could play the game “Far Away,” looking on the bottom of their bottles to determine where they came from. The bottle from the farthest location won.
During World War II, Coke shipped 64 complete bottling plants overseas, bringing 5 billion bottles of Coke to thirsty GIs, all for one nickel ó and that price remained the same for decades.
As we know from recent media reports, the Coca-Cola recipe has become one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets.
Bottle Works is a real bottling center that shows step-by-step how Coke is made. At Coca-Cola Connections, you can pick up the phone and hear about how the soft drink has changed people’s lives around the world. Seriously.
If you enjoyed the Happiness Factory Theater downstairs, you can watch more about Coca-Cola upstairs in the Perfect Pauses Theater.
But the most popular stop at the museum is Taste It!, the tasting room featuring 70 Coke products from around the world.
Let’s just say that taste varies greatly by continent.
Andrew said he tasted more than 30 different brands. I didn’t get quite that far.
We tasted Apple Kiwi Fanta from Thailand, Fanta Black Currant from Hong Kong, Sprite Ice from India, Nestea Light Peach from Brazil, Nestea Mango from Mexico and Fanta Kolita from Costa Rica, among others.
Perhaps the most interesting flavor, shall we say, comes from Britain, in a beverage called Beverly.
One guide explained it was a palate cleanser, while one guest described it more as a “palate scraper.”
Visitors can pick up a complimentary 8-ounce bottle of Coke, which moves on an overhead conveyer from Bottle Works to the tasting room.
An “Atlanta” stamp can be found on the bottom of each bottle.
No museum visit is complete without exiting through the company store, and the Coke museum is no exception. You can visit the Coca-Cola store anytime as it has its own entrance.
For more information about the World of Coca-Cola, visit www.worldofcocacola.com or call 404-676-5151.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or email@example.com.
By Susan Shinn