I originally didn’t really think about visiting the World of Coca-Cola during my weekend in Atlanta. It just didn’t jump out at me as a place of interest. But then everyone started telling me I needed to go – that it would be the highlight of visiting Atlanta. So I started to reconsider and I am sure glad I did. After a lackluster tour of CNN studios, my visit to the World of Coke could not have been better.
I skipped through the ticket line thanks to my Atlanta CityPASS and soon found myself in a room full of dozens of people. I immediately cringed, thinking everyone was waiting to slowly make their way through the exhibits. Luckily, most of them soon moved on, leaving me first in line for the next tour that would begin in about ten minutes. I was still with a group of about 40 other people, but as it turned out, only part of the visit would be guided; the rest of the time, we were free to explore on our our own. The visit kicked off in a room full of Coca-Cola paraphernalia from over the years. Our very enthusiastic tour guide started by asking where everyone was from, which got some people quite excited (lots of pride in the south!). Others hailed from as far away as Lebanon, India and Dubai.
After hearing a little about the history of Coke, we moved into a theater for a short film…about polar bears! I had completely forgotten about Coke’s polar bear mascots until this point, but the film was absolutely adorable! I probably would have been happy if the whole tour was watching that movie!
From there, we had a chance to explore more of the museum and the history of Coca-Cola. We could visit the vault where the secret recipe is allegedly stored (well, at least see the outside of the vault). We could also walk through an exhibit about the bottling of the world’s favorite carbonated beverage or another one about the history of how it was first developed and marketed. My favorite, though, was a screening room where they played some of the most memorable Coca-Cola commercials from the past few decades. I suppose it sounds cheesy to say they brought back some good memories, but…they brought back some good memories – even of commercials I wasn’t old enough to see when they originally aired, like the one with Mean Joe Greene and another with a group of young people singing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” (which kind of reminded me of the recent controversial “American the Beautiful” ad).
Finally, I entered the room that I had heard so much about – the tasting room. I had no idea what to expect, other than that I would be able to sample like 60 different kinds of Coke. I was intrigued by this idea because I thought I would literally be trying different variations of Coke – like American Coke and Mexican Coke and the like. Wrong.
In reality, I got to try the many different drinks produced by the Coca-Cola Company and sold all around the world. The fountains were separated by continent and I started with Africa, trying drinks like Bibo from South Africa and Sunfill from Mauritius. Can’t say I was too impressed by either. On to Asia, I tried Melon Frosty Fanta from Thailand (yum!), Sprite from Taiwan (not as good as American Sprite) and Smart Apple from China (not bad).
Moving along to Europe, there was more Fanta (in in even more flavors) and some drink from the UK that I didn’t try after hearing two guys next to me so on and on about how disgusting it was! The Latin American ones were incredibly sweet – something I forgot before I took a sip of the Inca Cola that I had tried when I was in Peru back in 2009. Things started to look familiar as I got to the North American fountains, although I don’t think I ever realized that Minute Maid, Mr. Pibb and Mello Yello were all Coke products.
Finally, on the far side of the room, I encountered the true Coke fountain, filled with regular Coke, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke and Coke Zero. With my sweet tooth and curiosity sufficiently satisfied, I headed out of the tasting room and into the gift shop, picking up my complimentary glass bottle of Coca-Cola on my way out. Even though I rarely drink pop/soda/Coke anymore, the World of Coca-Cola was well worth the visit! It was more than just a museum about a beverage, it was an inside look at that beverage’s historical and current role in pop culture, not just in the United States but around the world. Even though I never initially thought of paying a visit, I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Atlanta!
Disclosure: The Atlanta Visitors & Convention Bureau provided me with a complimentary CityPASS, which included a visit to the World of Coca-Cola. All opinions expressed are my own.