The Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta: A Must See
The Coca Cola Museum, in the heart of Atlanta.
The Coca-Cola Museum opened on May 24, of 2007 and it replaces the previous Coke museum in the Atlanta Underground area. This is NOT a museum just for Coca-Cola memorabilia collectors. You don't even need to like the drink to enjoy this remarkable place! It's right in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia (right next to the gigantic Georgia Aquarium, also a fantastic destination location). Both museums are located on a 20+ acre site in what is called "Pemberton Place". This location is just blocks from where John Pemberton initially created the formula for Coca-Cola! For most people though, it is perfect to pair the visit at Pemberton Place with a trip to the Georgia Aquarium.
Coke was introduced over 125 years ago at a small soda fountain in Atlanta, Georgia, and it’s corporate headquarters has remained there ever since. It is no wonder that Pepsi is almost invisible around the Atlanta area, as Coke has become a great corporate citizen of the city of Atlanta. The fact is that Coca-Cola dominates the southeastern part of the United States.
It Really Is A Fun Place!
The World of Coca-Cola is a fun museum, with interactive experiences that makes great use of artifcats, artwork, video, sound and smart phone technology, while it allows visitors to explore anything and everything that is Coke. While they say the average visit lasts around 90 minutes to 2 hours, I was there on a slow day for 5 hours, until my wife threatened me with bodily harm!
To me, the museum is a fun and interesting way of showing and explaining how a recipe from Atlanta, Georgia became the most recognized product in the world while also becoming a common link between various cultures and countries around the world. I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy this state of the art museum. There is literally something for everyone, including plenty to drink!
Vending Machines From The Past
Getting Started In The Museum
Since the museum is a large, high visibility facility, all visitors must pass through a security checkpoint before entering the museum. Everyone is subject to reasonable search and security checks as well. You'll begin your visit in a lobby with 6-7’ high Coke bottles made of different materials designed and decorated from countries around the world. Regardless, you certainly recognize the familiar shape! The next room you enter is what they call the “Coca-Cola Loft". This room has walls and ceiling filled with Coke memorabilia dating all the way back to 1896. This room then funnels you into a brief movie called the “Happiness Factory.” While it’s fun for all, it is chock full of the latest advertising theme from Coca-Cola. (Why not? They have a captive audience.)
The Coca-Cola Bear
Following the brief movie, the movie screen rises and exposes the rest of the museum where visitors can then go and spend time as they choose. Everything revolves around a huge spacious central atrium or hub. From this hub (like the spokes of a wheel) you can pick and choose what you walk through, rather than having to move through one exhibit to get to the next one.
One of the fun surprises for us and especially small children of all ages was the Coca-Cola Polar Bear who is about 7’ or so tall, and moves and acts just like you’d want a big loveable bear to act. There was even something about his eyes and the way they moved. Small children will love it!
The Large Atrium in the Coca-Cola Museum
The Famous Vault
The Coke Formula
In case anyone missed the unbelievable publicity this past year, the secret formula for Coke has been locked in a bank vault in Atlanta for the past 85 years. It was recently transferred to a special vault which all visitors can now see (not the formula, just the vault) along with some other unique and interactive displays surrounding the whole formula mystique. It is fun and interesting, as well!
The First of the Patented Coke Bottle We Know Today
The Milestones of Refreshment Area
One area that I really enjoyed was called the "Milestones of Refreshment" which displayed a myriad of historic artifacts, advertising materials and memorabilia. Some of these items go back before the 1900’s. Collectors especially will enjoy this part of the museum!
It doesn’t take long to learn (if you didn’t know already) that Coke did not start out as a major global company. It began over 125 years ago selling about 9 drinks a day. This exhibit also does a good job of presenting how Coke’s advertising over the years reflected current lifestyles of the time period.
Especially important were the displays on Coca-Cola during World War II. This area would be fascinating to history buffs as it highlighted Coca-Cola‘s efforts to bring the product to soldiers in World War II, regardless of costs. Over 5 billion servings of Coca-Cola were distributed to U.S. troops during the War. It also shows how its mobile bottling plants during the war, and Coke's growing presence throughout the world after the war, positioned it for growth over the next decades. It also highlights how Coke was responsible for the growth of other industries in other countries where they built bottling plants. Industries such as glass and sugar production were created out of necessity to support Coca-Cola’s bottling efforts. Obviously Coke is proud of the economic impact it's had on European and Asian countries since WWII. Coca-Cola is also very proud of how it has spread the American lifestyle around the globe after World War II. It is also well aware that its presence and U.S. identity even served as a threat to some countries!
The museum does a good job of explaining how Coke became a perfect American success story, growing to more than 500 brands in 2011, and selling 1.7 billion drinks a day. It is proud of it's legacy and the museum does a great job of educating, entertaining and hyping just how popular Coke has become with it's worldwide distribution and name recognition in over 200 countries around the world. It is the most recognized trademark in the world and it's very easy to see why!
More to Watch
There is another theatre called the “Perfect Pauses Theater” where you can see many of Coke’s television commercials over the years. These will take the older folks down memory lane and they are shown via three different short film clips, all with different themes.
A Sample of Coca Cola's Many Beverages.
There is a Pop Culture Gallery, which also shows the influence Coke has had on pop culture. The gallery includes collectables as well as trinkets and memorabilia made from used Coca-Cola cans, bottles etc., Teens may also appreciate the original Coca-Cola red, “American Idol" couch which contestants sat in during season four of "American Idol." My wife and I had to sit in it as well!
At the “In Search of the Secret Formula attraction, a 4-D film shows a story of an eccentric scientist and his assistant searching for "What Makes Coca-Cola, A Coca-Cola..” This fairly intense movie, includes a dragonfly bite, a snowboarding ferret, and a lot of misting. 4D basically means the seats in the theatre move and the audience feels wind and water effects as shown through the movie. Most everyone seemed to love it however, small children who are easily frightened, may need to sit in the last row where things don't move and mist!
The Mini Bottling Pant
One new feature of Coke's new and improved museum is what is called “The Bottle Works” which allows visitors to see the actual functioning of a small working bottling plant which actually produces the 8-ounce commemorative bottles that are given to guests at the end of the tour. This particular operation is nothing like the high speed systems used in Coke's bottling plants today, (or even what I saw in the 60’s at my dad’s plant) as it works at a much slower speed, which allows visitors to see things more easily and more close up than they would otherwise be able to do. A fairly sophisticated delivery line sends the finished bottles on to the “Taste It” room where all guest are given a memento of their tour: an 8-fluid-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola with a special label and cap indicating that it was bottled at the museum. In case you didn’t know, the bottom of every bottle of Coke manufactured throughout the word has a code on it indicating its point of origin. So the commemorative bottles generated at the World of Coca-Cola Museum are no different, as they are unique to the production line at this location only!
Regardless, you won’t need to drink this bottle, as there is all the soda and flavors you could ever want to sample at what Coke calls “Taste It”. "Taste It" comes at the end of your tour and it is basically a large beverage lounge featuring 64 tasting stations where kids and adults alike can taste and sample to their hearts content. The kids generally like to mix up anything and everything they minds can imagine, and it's all self service!
The one thing I did miss were the Coke dispensers in the old museum that shot a stream of Coke over 10 feet long over your ahead straight into a cup for you to drink. Most visitors will never miss it since they never knew it existed.
Aside from all the tasting stations where guests can overindulge, a relatively new, increasingly famous Coke vending machine is also in the room. Thousands more of these machines have been appearing at various locations around the country. It is called the "Coca-Cola Freestyle" self-serve machine. This machine (soon to be appearing in a store near you) can dispense a customer’s choice of over 125 carbonated and non-carbonated beverages produced by Coca-Cola, where you can mix up your own concoction with the aid of computers and a touch screen. The Coca-Cola Freestyle vending machine which is now located in more than 2,700 outlets covering 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia is extremely high tech and reports back to Coke exactly what is sold, the time of day, and how people are combining the different flavors. This gives Coke great insight as to just what consumers like as time passes. The word is that Coca-Cola spent mega-bucks developing this new machine, as it also makes use of new "flavor cartridges" inside.
Three of the original Norman Rockwell paintings that Coca-Cola commissioned are "missing" from the collection. Rockwell created six paintings for The Coca-Cola Company between 1928 and 1935. The Archives has three of the original paintings in the collection, however the other three are still missing and no one knows where they are. Check your attic!
The Coke Santa
I especially loved seeing the original artwork by famous artists that Coke hired over the years such as Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol and others. Especially enjoyable was seeing a few original paintings of the now famous Santa Claus created by artist, Haddon Sundblom, that have been used by Coca-Cola for it's advertsing dating back to the 1930’s.
By the way, Santa collectors will not be disappointed. Santa can be found on quite a few different items throughout the museum.
The Coke Store
Something That May Surprise You
While there is no doubt that Coca Cola has the worlds largest collection of Coke memorabilia, they certainly don’t have everything and actually they don’t even know in many cases, what they’ve produced over the last 125 years. They are constantly looking for new items and in September of 2011, they purchased a large collection from another museum called the Schmidt Museum. For four generations the Schmidt family ran bottling plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana and collected Coke memorabilia like few could ever imagine. For nearly 35 years, The Schmidt Museum in Elizabethtown, Kentucky housed the world’s largest privately held collection of Coca-Cola® memorabilia. The Schmidt family closed its museum in September 2011 and began auctioning off its impressive collection of nearly 80,000 items, with all proceeds going to charity. A two-day event last year saw more than 650 items go on the auction block, bringing in well over three million dollars. Evidently, two more auctions may take place in 2012, however it sounds like it may take a lot more auctions than that!
More of The Store
On the Coke American Idol Couch
The Coke Store!
When i walked into this store at the end of the tour, I felt like I was home. . . like the mothership had landed. This is probably the largest corporate store on the planet. It dwarfs the Anheuser Busch store in St. Louis, Missouri, although the Busch store is very nice as well! Whether you are a collector of memorabilia or you just like great hats, shirts, glassware, coolers or whatever, you'll find it here in spades. There are inexpensive things and there are very nice first class items as well. On this visit, i managed to control myself unlike the visit to the old museum store!
This Is A Unique And Special Museum
One of the things that becomes apparent to anyone visiting this museum is that Coca-Cola is much more than just a formula to the average consumer. While this became obvious back during the Coca-Cola formula change debacle back in the eighties, it is also very easy to see that Coca-Cola and it’s 125+ year history is as American as apple pie. Its commercials, jingles, artwork as well as the good times and special moments that people can remember while sipping a Coke, have become a major and well loved part of Americana.
World of Coca-Cola, Hosted by Greg Clarkson
Old Coke Commercial Featuring Mean Joe Green
HELPFUL INFORMATION ON THE MUSEUM
- The World of Coca-Cola does welcome photographs and video taken during your visit.
- You may want to combine the Coke museum with a visit to the Georgia Aquarium since they're side by side.
- To avoid crowds, go on a weekday first thing in the morning or after 2 p.m.
- The World of Coca-Cola and on-site parking garage are disabled accessible and meet all A.D.A. requirements. You can bring your own wheelchair. Coca-Cola also has courtesy wheelchairs available.
- Handheld text and audio devices are available at the Guest Services desk in the Lobby.
- Baby strollers are welcome at the World of Coca-Cola. Single strollers are encouraged as opposed to double strollers (during busier times) as it can get crowded during peak times. Power chairs and mobility scooters are also welcome during less than peak traffic times.
- The museum has ambassadors available throughout the attraction to answer any additional questions guests may have.
- Braille Guide Maps are also available at the Guest Services desk.
- For foreigners, multiple language versions of the Guide Map are available and many of the museum’s ambassadors speak multiple languages.
- Only guide dogs for the blind, service dogs for people with disabilities or working dogs in training are allowed inside the museum.
- Smoking is not allowed inside the museum.
- The World of Coca-Cola provides free public Wi-Fi access throughout the entire attraction and outside at Pemberton Place (the cafe). Coca-Cola also encourages visitors to use the “Coca-Cola” Wi-Fi network, and to take advantage of the storytelling experience through QR codes.
- Family style restrooms are also available.
- There is a V.I.P. tour available for those who are really into Coke. (I took advantage.)
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, though hours are subject to change. Check online or the museum for updates.
By the way, this facility was designed and built to reflect and highlight Coke's commitment to the environment by example, through its day-to-day "green" operation. The museum minimizes water use and conserves energy. and received a Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).