Yesterday, I traveled to downtown Atlanta to act as a tourist for a few hours at the World of Coca~Cola. I imagined I would be walking around in a museum setting with a bunch of international tourists, but I was so wrong. I was blown away by how cool this place was.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by small lines for those of us who didn’t buy advance tickets. There are constant sounds of Coke cans being opened and poured with carbonation bubbles playing over speakers outside. It was a nice touch of subliminal messaging. As I waited, I went to the World of Coca~Cola website and purchased my ticket which allowed me to enter quickly.
After entering, you shuffle through security and enter the main lobby. You are greeted by Coke workers who are handing out free bottles of Coke. Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero were being guzzled as the crowd waited to go into The Loft. Here is the place where the sounds of foreign languages converge. I started to play a game to see if I could decipher where people were from. Let’s just say I couldn’t.
Once we moved into The Loft, we had a brand ambassador speak to us regarding all of the old advertising that was displayed. Plus, she walked us through the international Coke signs and what each one said.
After our visit to The Loft, the crowd was escorted into a small amphitheater. We were not allowed to take photos or video in here. They showed a 6 minute video of how Coca~Cola brings people together. I’m not gonna lie, I was tearing up. Damn you Coke marketing geniuses!
Once the video was over, the doors open and release you into a two-story hub that has several different exhibits, each with their own lines. I must say the lines are constantly moving so I was never really standing around for too long. Decorated Coke bottles lined the windows and the cute Coke polar bear was taking pictures. The atmosphere of the place was nothing but happiness.
The first exhibit I ventured into was The Vault. I really enjoyed this exhibit. The one thing I didn’t expect was how interactive this place is. There are so many buttons to push, wheels to spin, drawers to open and portholes to look into. Not to mention, the amount of facts that are written on the walls. It’s overwhelming, but in a good way.
I thought it was pretty cool when you first walk in. It’s set up as a pharmacy since Dr. Pemberton, the creator of Coke, was a pharmacist and sold it at his pharmacy. There were drawers that you could open and they would reveal facts or objects. Plus, there were video screens with a silhouette of a guy that would sneak in and out of frame and whisper “Are you looking for the formula?” I thought it was so clever.
Once the stream of tourists (me included) made our way through the Myths & Legends area, we were shuffled into a room with 360 degree views. Projections of mathematical equations riddled the floor. The brand ambassador played another short video of images that related to Coca~Cola and then the screens towards the front of the room parted and there it was. The Vault that held the secret formula to the carbonated brown liquid.
There is a biometric detector and a red and white line on the floor that will set off sensors if crossed. They mean business here. It would be pretty interesting if Coke hired a group of hackers and thieves to see if they could break in. I’m thinking along the lines of The Italian Job.
Once I was released from The Vault, I ventured over to another exhibit which was set up like a soda shop. Children were lining up to take their picture with the soda jerk.
One of the informational panels on the walls described Coca~Cola as a drink that became “part of the fabric of everyday life”. The marketing team behind Coke has continued to express this idea that drinking a Coke illicits good times no matter what the current state of the world is. Even in WWII, Coke was a prominent fixture overseas where it was distributed to soldiers for a nickel. The company even shipped over games like bingo, checkers and table tennis to occupy the troops.
There was an entire area dedicated to the relationship that Coca~Cola has with the Olympics. The torches from the past few Summer and Winter Olympics are displayed as well as entire sets of collector pins.
From this exhibit, I ventured over to the Bottle Works exhibit. This shows the steps of how the product is bottled and prepared for shipment. Since water is the main ingredient in Coke, they have to make sure the water is of the highest quality with no contaminants. Bottles are inspected on the inside and outside for any defects.
This area was meant to show you at a much slower speed what happens everyday at a facility. They had realtime video from their other facilities showing you how fast the machines actually move. Let’s just say it’s dizzying.
After the Bottle Works exhibit, I went into the Pop Culture exhibit which was cool. I guess you know you’re a big deal when you can create an entire pop culture section to your brand. There were paintings, sculptures and creations from Coke cans.
Last, but not least I made my way over to the room filled with Coca-Cola products from all over the world. Here you are given a cup upon entering and are then able to walk from continent to continent trying out all fizzy bubbly drinks.
I started in Asia. Thailand was my first tasting. I had an apple kiwi soda. I liked it. I would drink it again. Another Thai drink was called Melon Frosty. This, too, was yummy. India’s product was called Thumbs Up. It was a brown, spicy liquid. I didn’t care for it too much. China’s tasting was some pink smart drink. Ehhh. It was ok. There were other countries too, but being able to access them due to teenagers just standing around was a bit annoying, but Thailand’s where it’s at!
Next stop…Africa! My first drink was from Uganda. It was Fanta Exotica. It was a red drink which was good. The next tasting was from the tiny island of Mauritius. I had a black currant flavored soda by Sunfill. There was a weird taste to it, but for some reason, I liked it. Then I traveled to Djibouti where I tasted the Sunfill menthe flavor. Yeah, not a fan.
I traveled to Europe next where I met a funny couple who were trying everything. My first tasting from Europe was from the country of Georgia. It was a light reddish-brown Fuse tea which I liked. I’m not a big iced tea drinker, but it was good. Then I hopped a plane to Spain and tasted Aquarius Libre. It was a clear liquid that was ok. I don’t think I drank this when I lived there. I think I would remember. The one country that everyone was talking about was Italy…and not in a good way! Everyone said the clear Italian beverage called Beverly tasted like a horrible mouthwash. The couple I was talking with told me I have to try this. So I took a tiny tasting, smelled it (there were no funny aromas) and drank it. I gagged and almost coughed it up. It was by far the worst thing that I have ever drank in my life. There are some alcohols that are bad, but this tops it. I immediately filled my cup with the Spanish drink and chugged it to get the taste out of my mouth. The couple laughed. The gag-inducing culprit is shown in the far right.
Latin America soon called my name and I tasted a Brazilian product called Guarana Kuat. Not a fan. Mexico’s flavor was Ciel Aquarius. Ehhh. Costa Rica had Fanta Kolita. This drink was ok.
In the far corner of the room, they had the self serving vending machines where you could drink til your heart’s content. I had a cup of root beer because that’s my soda of choice.
I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff in this shop. From the tiniest magnets to grilling gear, it was there. Christmas shopping anyone? Who wants a handbag? I can make this happen!I walked out of that store with a shirt for myself, a shirt for my brother and a glass Coke cup. Plus, I bought a surprise gift for $1.99 in a resealable Coke bag and surprise!!! It was a keychain with a d-ring made from recycled cans.
I had a blast at the World of Coca~Cola. I felt like a kid exploring everything. It was an eye opening adventure that if you had an opportunity to go to, I hope you do. There is so much to learn about in there and everyone is really upbeat and helpful. I went in expecting to walk through in an hour. I was so wrong. 3 hours later, I had a shopping bag with goodies, a stomach filled with carbonation and a smile on my face. I guess Coke does make for a great companion in the world.