World of Coke is, essentially, a shrine to Coca-Cola located in Atlanta, Georgia adjacent to the Georgia Aquarium. At first blush, visitors to Atlanta might assume it’s a simple “Coke Museum,” but it’s much more. It contains multiple exhibits, each centered around Coca-Cola and its history, from art displays to inside the “Coca-Cola Vault” to taste-testing, and beyond.
World of Coca-Cola cost $16/adult at the time we visited (click here for current pricing), with a multitude of combo tickets available. There are a number of attractions in Atlanta worth seeing, so we highly recommend purchasing one of these combo tickets.
If you have a few days to explore Atlanta, the Atlanta City Pass is the best option in terms of value. You can use that to hit the “flagship” Atlanta attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium (read our Georgia Aquarium Review), World of Coke, Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour, Atlanta Zoo, Museum of Natural History, and more. Pre-purchasing tickets is highly recommend to avoid waits at ticket windows on the day-of.
World of Coke could fail spectacularly. I mean, a prolonged Coke commercial that visitors pay to see? The very premise of it alone seems suspect. However, it succeeds surprisingly well and is an enjoyable and educational experience for both kids and adults. Perhaps it’s a testament to Coca-Cola’s ability to permeate our everyday lives and society in general, but it doesn’t feel like a big commercial for Coke.
It feels more like a “Coke Disneyland” of sorts. Now, both Disney and Coke are commercial behemoths: in the case of the Disney, the product is entertainment, whereas Coke’s product is a beverage. Somehow Coca-Cola manages to turn the showcase of its product into entertainment as it showcases not just that beverage, but how the beverage has become–and impacted–a variety of Americana.
It’s fascinating seeing the humble beginnings of Coca-Cola and its evolution throughout the years into an iconic brand, and how it has been portrayed by prolific artists over the years. These historical segments are engaging and well-presented, with a variety of technology used to keep the exhibits engrossing.
This is especially true in the Vault of the Secret Formula exhibit, which kept my attention even though I knew there was no chance of learning Coca-Cola’s coveted trade secret. I’m not sure of the age of these exhibits, but most felt a couple of years old, at most.
I found it intriguing to view changes in society through the lens of Coca-Cola, and the historic advertising and art gallery gave some insight into various shifts in American culture and historic events.
Obviously, it’s nothing comprehensive, but Coca-Cola’s prevalence throughout American culture for so long can’t be denied, and it’s a view of history that is fun and unique. From artists such as Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell to wars, Olympics, and even new inventions, Coke has been there, every step of the way.
These areas are where we spent the bulk of our time in World of Coke, and what we found most interesting. It wasn’t just the history, but also how these served as a case study in successful marketing. Nearby schools ought to send students here for Marketing 101 field trips.
There’s also a small bottling line that visitors can watch, a meet and greet with the Coca-Cola bear, and another theater playing old Coca-Cola commercials.
About the only thing that was a letdown was the “Search of the Secret Formula” 4D film. For me, this cheesy film is sort of where the wheels came off, and it became more apparent that I was being suckered into spending money and time to be subjected to a thinly-veiled Coca-Cola commercial.
It felt like it was premised on pushing Coke, with entertainment value only an afterthought. Kids will still probably enjoy it because it is a 4D film, but I thought it was a bit cringe-inducing.
The conclusion of the experience is Taste It, which is an unlimited taste-testing room with beverage samples from around the world, with over 100 flavors total.
These range from downright disgusting to some so good that you’ll wonder why they aren’t sold in the United States. (I won’t spoil the fun of you tasting the disgusting ones yourself by revealing which are which.)
If you were to fully experience each of these exhibits and attractions within World of Coca-Cola, you could probably spend about a half-day here. We spent about 2 hours in World of Coca-Cola, and felt that was just about right.
In the end, is World of Coca-Cola worth it? Surprisingly, yes. (Only those who vehemently oppose soda are unlikely to enjoy it, and they probably knew that before reading this review.) To a degree, it’s a corporation’s self-serving story of its own history, but it’s so much more than that. For adults, it’s enjoyable because there’s something more to it–that secondary meaning that Coca-Cola has developed over time and how its history in a way reflects a broader degree of history.
Beyond that, it’s also fascinating to see the history of Coca-Cola marketing in terms of the marketing itself. Has any product been better-marketed over the last 100 years than Coke? For kids, the exhibits are just a lot of fun–from interactive displays to bears to meet to ‘weird’ beverages to test. With World of Coca-Cola, Coke manages to perfectly tread the line between fun and marketing, and the result is a relatively inexpensive must-do for anyone who is visiting Atlanta. I would go as far to say that this is the must-do tourist experience in Atlanta, better than both the Inside CNN Studio Tour and Georgia Aquarium.
If you’ve experienced the World of Coca-Cola, how would you rate it? Did any of you Pepsi fans enjoy it? Would you do it again, or do you think it was a ‘one and done’? Was it worth your time and money? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!