World of Coca Cola
This article is about the original World of Coca-Cola near Underground Atlanta. For up-to-date information on the World of Coca-Cola near Centennial Park, please see New World of Coca-Cola

A Coca-Cola tour-de-force that celebrates America's favorite soft drink, now served in more than 200 countries. The World of Coca-Cola opened at its current location adjacent to Underground Atlanta in 1990, but is slated to move to Centennial Park in 2007. Within the World of Coca-Cola are more than 1,200 artifacts ranging from bottles of Coca-Cola to a "capping machine," an essential part of the bottling process.

Neon Spectacular at the World of Coca-Cola
Visitors enter the building by passing under the updated "Neon Spectacular," itself a piece of Coca-Cola history. From 1932 until 1981 Coca-Cola had a sign in Margaret Mitchell Square. Originally, this was an eletronic billboard that flashed news of the day beneath a Coke ad that changed monthly. This grew into sign that changed based on the weather. In 1948, Coca-Cola introduced the Spectacular, which remained until 1981, when Atlanta converted the square into a ballpark.

After purchasing tickets inside the building, visitors ride elevators to the top floor. From here, the tour is a carefully planned trek into the history, present-day and future of Coca-Cola.

The first gallery, Creating a Classic, begins by paying homage to the bottlers of Coca-Cola. As visitors exit the elevator they are drawn to the never-ending parade of the 6 1/2 ounce "contour" bottles leading to the Bottling Fantasy, an interesting (if unrealistic) look at how the bottling process occurs. Coke, of course, was developed as a soda fountain drink in 1886. Bottling did not start until 1899. In this area is a video presentation titled "First Things First," a ten-minute look at John Pemberton's invention that changed the shape of the world.

After leaving the bottling area the story of Coca-Cola begins in Jacob's Pharmacy in 1886. It was here that the first Coca-Cola was served, an energizing drink that perhaps was closer to a patent medicine than a soft drink. Of course, print ads make up the bulk of these displays, but some old equipment makes it seem more historical in nature. Kiosks add additional information on both the early and formative years of both the company and the soft drink, interweaving five years of world events with images of Coca-Cola and its advertising in an interesting display called "Take Five". This marks the end of the Creating a Classic Gallery.

Soda jerk serves up Coca-Cola to kids at the Barnes fountain
Kids enjoy the "soda jerk"
One stop the kids will love, the Barnes Soda Fountain, offers a look into a 1930's era drug store soda fountain, and begins the "Pause that Refreshes" Gallery. The soda fountain is a reproduction of one from Baxley, Georgia, where Caroline Miller wrote her 1934 Pulitzer Prize novel Lamb in his Bosom and comes complete with an old-fashioned "soda jerk". Kids get to sit at the fountain in groups while the soda jerk has fun creating the Coca-Cola treats of a bygone age. The gallery theme continues by using a 1930's vintage Wurlitzer juke-box that plays Coca-Cola songs and radio ads of the era.

Bottles and ads in the World of Coca-Cola
Coke ads from the 1930's to the 1960's
Of course, just like Lucky Strike green, Coca-Cola went to war, and the war years are portrayed with servicemen taking "the pause that refreshes" as they prepare for a bombing run or some other activity. Towards 1945, the themes in Coca-Cola advertising alter dramatically, as the servicemen return home to mom and the girl next door.

Final stop on the third floor is a a state of the art digital theater with SurroundSound known as the Every day...Every way Gallery. Visitors take a seat for a presentation that goes "Around the World with Coca-Cola" showing incredible photography from Egypt, China, and Australia, to name a few of the locations. As the show ends, Every Day... gallery exits to either stairs or an elevator as the World of Coca-Cola moves to the second floor.

On the second floor we begin to see the evolution of the modern image of Coca-Cola with full use of the many mediums available. "The Real Thing" gallery touches home with most visitors. Concentrating on the post-war era, the commercials are no longer only printed or spoken but visual (television). This gallery's displays culminate with a film loop of the most popular Coke commercials ever. Here "Mean Joe" Green perpetually gives a kid the shirt off his back and singers on a hill in Italy claim they'd "Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony." One interesting exhibit details Coca-Cola and Santa Claus, and why today's Santa is normally depicted in traditional Coca-Cola red and white.

Coca-Cola served up by futuristic vending machines
A unique style of serving a Coke
Club Coca-Cola allows visitors to sample the various flavors of Coke from a variety of dispensers that dramatically serve America's favorite soft drink with lights, sound and action. Following this "Spectacular Fountain" is a room known as the "International Lounge" where Coke products from around the world are featured, many of which are either not available in the United States or available in extremely limited quantities.

The first floor of the building (and the last stop on the tour) is the Coca-Cola gift shop, where all things Coke can be purchased. From a red and white umbrella to a red and white teddy bear, its amazing the number of items Coke produces to brand its products. A great place to shop, especially if you have a friend that collects Coca-Cola memorabilia.

Roadside Georgia travel tip:Weekend and holiday waits can frequently exceed 1/2 hour, so be prepared to stand in line.

Location: Adjacent to Underground Atlanta at Five Points
Directions: Take I-75, locally known as the Downtown Connector, to exit 248A (M.L. King Dr./State Capitol/Stadium). Continue west on MLK Drive for 2 blocks. The World of Coke is on the right. On the street parking is extremely limited in the area, but just past The World of Coca-Cola and also on the right, is a parking deck for Underground Atlanta.

MARTA: Take any MARTA train line to Five Points.
Additional information:
Official World of Coca-Cola web site
Coca-Cola Timeline
Date added: January 27, 2004
Last update: June 14, 2009

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