‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’
|Every visitor gets a Coke for the road. Photos by Melissa Lowrie|
By Melissa Lowrie
By special request, my Georgia-born kids wanted to see the World of Coca-Cola. Yikes ... downtown? Yes—but don’t fret; it was surprisingly easy.
The World of Coke has been downtown since it moved to its new digs on Baker Street in 2007 from Underground Atlanta. It’s a stone’s throw from the Georgia Aquarium and across from Centennial Olympic Park in Pemberton Place.
It’s easy to find, even without Google maps. Follow the signs from I-75/85 and you’ll be led to a parking deck; from there it’s an easy walk. (Parking was $10.)
After buying tickets, ($40 for one adult and two kids) guests are loosely queued for a few minutes then led into the next room as a group. A lovely hostess welcomed us and asked where visitors were from. Finland, England and California sounded more impressive than Pickens County, but whatever. Clearly, this place is a tourist destination.
|Visitors are invited to taste beverages from different countries.||The collection of Olympic torches is fun to see.|
he next stop for the group was a huge theatre to see the latest polar bear movie. The hostess assured us we’d be on our own at the film’s conclusion. The short film was about six minutes long, then the screen retracted revealing doors leading to the rest of the museum.
World of Coke is a shrine to marketing. A testament to the public relations brains behind the brand that has been in the forefront of American culture since 1886. That said, the place is well done and judging from the crowd, a huge hit. Probably profitable as well.
|Memorabilia fills vast rooms from every era since Coke’s inception in 1886.||From proposals to a drink left for Santa, handwritten letters describe special memories visitors have with Coke.|
The rest of the building houses separate exhibits; we started at Bottle Works to see what a bottling operation looks like. There is also a Pop Culture Gallery and Milestones of Refreshment featuring Coke memorabilia from all over the world.
The actual secret formula is there as well. Don’t expect to get a copy or even see it—the formula is in a vault. (A very large vault for something that can’t be that big.) But of course Coke is larger than life, so maybe the vault should be a little showy. If you get too close to it an alarm sounds. It was activated while we were there, but no Coca-Cola security team appeared, so maybe the alarm is pretend too. The kids thought the vault was stupid and I agree. A lot of hype and guests see nothing.
Something unexpected and interesting we found was the collection of Olympic torches and pins.
Coca‑Cola has supported the international Olympic movement for more than 80 years making for an impressive display of memorabilia.
Hands down, the best part of the World of Coke was the Taste It beverage lounge.
|The Taste It beverage lounge was the best part of the visit.|
Self-serve Coke products flowed freely from international stations. More than 100 different beverages from Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America are available to taste. The tasting was fun, but the best part was watching the reactions of the tasters. “Ew, this is awful, try this.” (Said a guy making a horrible face.) Um, no thanks!
There were flavors like Sparberry, Smart Apple, Thums Up, Magic Fanta and Sunfill; plenty of new drinks for the American visitors to taste. There is section with familiar choices, too: Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Coke, et al. And, if you don’t get enough, everybody gets a bottle of Coke on the way out the door.
If the belly-full of carbonated drinks isn’t enough of a souvenir, the queen-mother of all gift shops awaits on your way out. Literally everything you want with the Coke logo is for sale.
Overall, the kids enjoyed the outing, (but would skip the vault if given the opportunity) and this was a checkmark off our Atlanta to-do list. Check worldofcoca-cola.com for operating hours and additional information. Whatever you do, have a great time with your Canoe Kids.
Happy 2014 and thanks for reading!