Review: Is World of Coca-Cola Worth It?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

Your Thoughts…

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!

13 replies
  1. Chandra
    Chandra says:

    Sebastian was awesome! My whole family agreed and I heard many other people in my group saying how well he managed the crowd and used his voice to make us want to follow him any where. At one point someone shouted out, “give that man a tip”. He deserves it. He was excellent at getting that large to quiet down and listen to the “Coke facts”. This was during school break and it was filled with all ages. Cudos to Sebastian he was a superb host!

    Reply
  2. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Not fun on a crowded day. We went on a Tues in July around 12:30. The amount of people made it hard to get around, see everything, etc.

    So much hype for just a crowded informational museum about Coke.

    I liked the shooting fountains at the old location, too. That was neat.

    Reply
  3. Patrice
    Patrice says:

    My daughter and I, and her two children (8 and 3) really enjoyed the Coke Museum. Personally, the gift shop was extremely disappointing for me. I always look for cute t-shirt tops to use as pajama tops and try to get coordinating pants to complete a set. Oh, joy!! REALLY CUTE pink shirts with the Coke Polar Bear on them. Then, a COMPLETE BUST, as the shirts are ABSURDLY LONG-SLEEVED , or DUMBLY, tank tops!! This is Georgia! It can be hot at Thanksgiving!, so why the “only appropriate for children” tank tops and the “we think we live at the North Pole” long-selves shirts?!?! Not pleased. Left without a souvenir!!

    Reply
  4. ed hornung
    ed hornung says:

    Overall grade is an F! One of the most disappointing excursions that we have made. Tremendous waste of time if you’re older than 12.

    Reply
  5. Jacquie Nahom
    Jacquie Nahom says:

    I’ve not been to the Atlanta version, but I’ve been twice to the World of Coca-Cola in Las Vegas. It’s in a great location right on the strip. Both visits I went with groups of people ranging in age from teenager to retirees, and we all enjoyed our visits. We spent about an hour and a half touring and tasting. Lots of fun and worth a visit. Soda drinker or not, it’s worth your time to learn the history and impact of a company/product that has been and is such a big part of our culture.

    Reply
  6. Laura B
    Laura B says:

    I’m a big fan of World of Coca-Cola, having made my first visit to the old museum some 20 years ago. I still love all the old “I’d like to give the world a Coke” commercials, and even had a Coke keychain that played the tune (also known as “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”). However, the new museum has one major disappointment: in the old museum, as part of the tasting room, there was a series of jumping fountains. You put your cup in the designated spot, and depending on what you chose, the perfect amount of Coke, Diet Coke or Sprite would jump through a series of fountains and land in your cup. It was like the jumping water fountains at Epcot, but with Coke!

    Reply
  7. Tim
    Tim says:

    The World of Coca-Cola is a lot of fun. One of my favorite details is the lobby music that features a variety of Coke jingles in a “world music” style. It was done by a composer (Stephen James Taylor) who has worked on some Disney projects including New Fantasyland.

    Reply
  8. Joe Gayle
    Joe Gayle says:

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting this review! As an Atlanta resident, I have to say the World of Coca-Cola consistently disappoints my out of town guests more than any other Atlanta attraction, even when I take the time to explain exactly what it is (most people seem to expect a tour of a full size bottling plant.). I would probably stop taking people there altogether were it not located right next to the Georgia Aquarium. It sounds like you were able to appreciate the artistic aspects of the exhibits more than the average person.

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I’m a bit surprised by that. I can see the anti-soda crowd hating it, but then again, I think they’d hate ANY Coke experience on principle. What don’t they like about it?

      What do YOU think of it? It’s always nice for readers to have multiple perspectives (beyond just mine), so hearing your thoughts would be great!

      Reply
      • Joe Gayle
        Joe Gayle says:

        The comment I hear the most is, “I expected more.” I got the impression that many of them felt like it was little more than a large collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia that you can find at any flea market or antique store. Granted, none of these people were Coke aficionados.

        My own opinion is probably a bit skewed since I am familiar with the old World of Coca-Cola that was built in the early 90s. When they closed the old one, they began advertising how much bigger and better the new location would be, so I made my first visit with high expectations. It’s certainly bigger, but other than the addition of the miniature bottling line, I didn’t feel it was a substantial improvement over the old one. There were actually some elements in the old one that probably should have been retained in the new location, but weren’t. For example, they had a replica soda fountain where an employee dressed as a soda jerk would tell about the significance of soda fountains in Coke’s early history, and he would demonstrate how Cokes were originally manually mixed and dispensed prior to the automatic dispensers we use today. It’s not rocket science, but it’s interesting to people who grew up in the post-soda fountain age, and I think it adds a personal element as well when you get to interact with the employees. And while I can truly appreciate Coca-Cola’s marketing genius, I personally would have liked to see more space devoted to the history of some of their beverages. I’ve always thought it would be great idea to have a small display about the New Coke fiasco as well. Although it’s now known as a huge marketing failure, I’m sure the story could be spun in such a way to emphasize how the company realized their error and gave their customers what they wanted in the end. They could even include New Coke as one of the samples in the Taste It room. So overall, I’d probably have to say the World of Coca-Cola was a bit of a disappointment to me as well. But having said that, they do have some good exhibits, and I still think it deserves a visit, especially for someone new to Atlanta or someone who is the slightest bit interested in Coca-Cola.

        Reply
        • Tom Bricker
          Tom Bricker says:

          Thanks for the insight. I think both your proposals are solid (I don’t know how sodas were manually mixed, mostly because I’ve never given it any thought). I wonder why that soda fountain wasn’t kept?

          As for the New Coke fiasco, it always surprises me how companies want to hide their well known, negative pasts. It’s not like that would in any way reflect negatively on the current marketing team at Coke, and I think taking a ‘warts and all’ approach lends credibility to the positive things you have to say about your own brand, especially in this case, where poking fun at themselves certainly wouldn’t hurt current public perception.

          Maybe New Coke is still a sore subject for Coca-Cola?

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