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Calendar >  Travels with TR – World of Coca Cola Built on a Secret

Travels with TR – World of Coca Cola Built on a Secret

By   /  August 21, 2014  /  No Comments

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By Tom Robertson

Tom Robertson

Tom Robertson

A visit to Atlanta, Georgia, offers travelers a chance to take in a multitude of tourist highlights, but none of them are surrounded in as much secrecy as The World of Coca Cola.  This massive building is located adjacent to Olympic Park, site of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and next to the Georgia Aquarium. The original World of Coca Cola Museum was opened in 1991 and was replaced by the 20 acre exhibit in May of 2007. What is most amazing is this entire tribute to Coca Cola products has the recurring theme, the Coca Cola formula is a secret known only to a few.

Entrance fees to this museum to Coke are reasonable – Adults $16.00, Senior’s 65+ $14.00, and Youth 3-12 $12.00. Visitors can also purchase a VIP Guided tour for $28.00 which puts them to the head of the line in the various rooms and a personalized tour guide. Lines can get long in the summer, so some in a rush to get through can take advantage of the VIP Tour program.

The museum is divided into 10 areas built on multi-levels.  After paying the entrance fees, visitors are color coded and moved into a Lobby area where they wait until their color is called.  The groups then move into the second room, called The Loft.  The room is full of huge historic Coca Cola signs from past years, including the very first Coca Cola sign attached to the original building when Coca Cola began to be bottled and shipped from Atlanta, the birth place of Coca Cola. An energetic guide gives a short background on what to expect, some trivia about Coke and does a survey of the audience to find out where people are visiting from and surprisingly visitors are from a variety of U.S. states and many, many foreign countries. After about 15-20 minutes in this room we are moved into the Coca Cola Theater to watch a video on a huge movie theater sized screen that changes each year based on the theme Coke has for most of its ads for that year.  This year the video was called “Moments of Happiness”. If you have seen any of the Coke ads on T.V. you have seen this theme and the “personalized” cans, with people’s names on them, words like BFF or Soulmate, and more.

 

From the theater a double door slides open and visitors move into a room called The Hub. The Hub is a huge area, with extremely colorful, large Coke bottles decorated with themes of the various countries Coke is sold, spiraling staircases to upper area and other Coke exhibit areas off of the main floor.  One of the highlights in The Hub is a chance to get your picture taken with a 7 foot polar bear, not a real bear, but an employee a massive costume. People line up for the opportunity. The polar bear first appeared in Coke ads in France in 1922 and is now a main stay during the winter months. Santa Claus is also used in Coke ads and some in the advertising world say the 1930’s Coke Santa in ads gave us the modern version of how we picture Santa. After the picture with the polar bear, most people move to the Vault of the Secret Formula.  Lines are long here as only about 50 or so people are let in this exhibit at a time.  There are numerous informational items displayed in a variety of ways on the walls, lots of inter-active displays and the push in this area is no one knows the secret Coca Cola formula.

A variety of myths and rumors exist about Coke and there is even controversy on who may have invented Coca Cola. At the end of the Vault of the Secret Formula there is indeed a huge vault and we are told that this vault leads to another smaller vault where supposedly the formula for Coke is written on two separate sheets of paper. As we exit the Vault the crowd is led into a small reconstruction of the bottling process for Coca Cola.  We watch the bottles being filled, processed, capped, and prepared for delivery. As far as the mystery of Coca Cola and its formula the following seems to be the most accepted story – in 1886, an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John Pemberton, was trying to come up with a formula for a flavored syrup. The discovery he made was mixed with carbonated water and the rest is history.

As far as the name, Dr. Pemberton’s book keeper, Frank Robinson, is credited with coming up with the name Coca Cola. The first year Dr. Pemberton sold his discovery for five cents a glass and averaged 9 sales a day. Dr. Pemberton died in 1888 and Frank Robinson sold his interest to various partners. Asa Candler is said to have first begun bottling Coca Cola in glass bottles. Today’s Coke industry takes in over $114 billion dollars worldwide. But, Myths and Rumors still surround both the founder, purpose and uses for Coke.

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As far as a couple of the Myths, the most prevelant one is that only 2 people now know the formula and each one only knows ½ of the formula. Another is that Coke was originally green in color – not believed to be true. Also many thought cocaine was used in Coke – actually coca leaves were first used, but this is not the case any longer. One interesting crime happened in 2006 when 3 Coke employees tried to sell trade secrets to Pepsi Cola, but Pepsi refused the information and turned them in and they were arrested.

From here we exit to the Milestones of Refreshments – a collection of memorable advertisements, old delivery trucks, a reconstruction of a classic soda fountain and more. One of the features is the many classic Coke ad slogans that abound – A Pause that Refreshes, Can’t Beat the Feeling, Coke Is It, Catch the Wave and more. As you continue on your self-guided tour, elevators or stairs take you to the upper area. One of the more interesting rooms is the Bottle Works featuring art work, furniture and more made from Coke bottles and cans. A huge 4D Theater is on this level as well with a 25 minute video centered on the search for what’s in Coke. The audience experiences seats that move, air blown on and around you to go along with the music and very action packed video. You should either skip this part of the tour or ask for non-moving seats if you have any back issues or are pregnant. It’s quite a show. From here the crowd can go back to any rooms they missed or go to the Pop Culture Gallery – an artistic look at Coke and how artists have pictured Coke in various media.

The final two rooms are perhaps the most fun – one is totally free and one can set you back many dollars. The first room in this part of the tour is the Taste It Room where guests can sample Coke and Coke products from around the world – as many as you want.  There are products from the U.S., of course, then you can move on to sample a variety of drinks from South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Mexico and the Coca Cola Freestyle fountain where you can sample over 100 beverages choices by mixing different flavors. Some of the flavors from around the world are very tasty, like Inca Cola from Peru, and some are very unusual flavors, like some of the flavors from Italy. As you exit this room, each guests gets an 8 fluid ounce of  bottled Coke to take home and as any good amusement park or exhibit will do it drops you off into the Coca Cola Gift Shop where there are thousands of Coke items to purchase – clothing, glassware, trinkets with Coke logos, furniture, etc., etc.  Outside of the Gift Shop visitors can take a picture with a bronze statue of Dr. Pemberton before heading over to the Pemberton Café for lunch.

The entire experience will take at least 2 ½ to 3 hours and there is ample parking if you are driving to the museum. I found the museum to be very interesting with each of the areas different and unique.  Kids will love the experience and there is a lot to keep them busy. I never thought I would visit a museum dedicated to a soda, but this one certainly made the decision to go well worth the time spent.

 Photos By Carol Robertson

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