It’s almost like a real life Willy Wonka factory, and quite frankly a dream come true for chocoholic like myself. Cadbury World is tourist attraction within the Bournville factory that is still producing chocolate today.
Of course, being a huge global company now a lot of chocolate is made elsewhere. Bournville might have once been farmland outside the Victorian city of Birmingham, but it has now been enveloped by the sprawling city.
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So what is Cadbury World and why should you go?
The Cadbury World experience is a chocolate themed tourist attraction at the famous Bournville Cadbury chocolate factory in Birmingham. It is made up of a number of elements that all contribute to making a rather fun day out.
Sure, a lot of the outing is aimed at the kiddies, and yes I did take kiddies on my two visits within a week (all part and parcel of moving within a mile of Cadbury World and having much younger sisters!) but it is thoroughly enjoyable for adults.
To begin the visit you arrive right in the centre of Bournville at the factory that was, and still is, at the centre of this city-village. Bournville, has a gorgeous quaint Victorian village vibe – the house are pretty cottages with even prettier gardens, there are cricket grounds, bowling greens, boating lakes and lovely little village green.
Once inside the Cadbury area you enter Cadbury World armed with your timed ticket (I highly recommend getting the earliest opening ticket as it can get busy, especially during school holidays) you are handed an armful of chocolate to tide you over during your walk around the attraction. Chocolate for breakfast certainly helps start the day with a buzz!
From Aztecs to European discovery of chocolate
The first part of the exhibition takes you through an immersive story of chocolate right from the beginnings when it was discovered by the Aztecs who turned it into drinking chocolate.
It follows through with the invasion of the Spanish and chocolate’s journey to Europe right up until we reach Victorian England.
The exhibition uses a range of techniques to share the story including life-size models and holograms. If you have kids, grab one of the quiz sheets at the beginning as it’s a fun way for them to learn about chocolate.
Once at Victorian England actors in costume share some stories about life in Victorian Birmingham, it wasn’t the easiest for the poor working-class folk, and the beginnings of John Cadbury’s tea and chocolate shop.
You are then led through to a cinema room where John Cadbury and his sons (played by actors) share their story about how the business grew and how Bournville was chosen a location for their booming business.
They also shared their at-the-time ground-breaking philosophies about workers rights and wellbeing and how they created a new kind of working system. You can certainly see this philosophy played out in the design of the village.
How chocolate is made
Next up, we are led through to another cinema room where we begin the part of the Cadbury World experience learning about how chocolate is actually made. This room is a more ‘experiential’ viewing (I won’t give too much away) which is quite fun when actually learning about a rather long-drawn out manufacturing process.
After that is factory time! Through a guided path system and signs you follow the process of chocolate being made and packaged up. There’s an opportunity to take a fun green screen photo with your group, so warning! Don’t wear anything green, or even light blue. Our photos didn’t work at all. #sadface
Little chocolate-themed ride
Then it’s time to queue up for the mini ride – The Cadabra. You step into mini cars called the Beanmobile and potter around a fantastical world of mini bean people. It’s definitely aimed at the kids, but enjoyable. Also another chance for a group photo as well. Obviously a money-making opp for them but I still bought into it.
After that it was melted chocolate tasting time! Wahoo! Quite possibly, my second favourite bit (not got to my favourite yet) where you get to try small cups of melted Cadbury chocolate with your choice of toppings. All the while you can watch chocolatiers temper chocolate. They usually have a live demonstrator talk through the tempering process and it’s all rather fun to watch.
Next up, the Advertising Avenue. This where you get to walk down memory lane and see some of your old favourite Cadbury’s adverts. Starting off with printed posts and then moving into television. Anyone remember the Rose’s thank you very much advert? Or the everyone’s a fruit and nut case?
Finally, we come into something called the Purple Zone which is an interactive fun zone using different technologies and vaguely based around chocolate. With the kids it was a great chance to adopt big-kid-persona and jump around playing games.
You then come out into the massive gift shop which is very hard to resist. I think we left with a few bags of chocolate and some vintage-inspired trays.
We passed on the Cadbury cafe but the milkshakes looked epic.
And we made our way out the front and walked around to the back where there is a large adventure playground for the kids and my favourite part of the Cadbury World, the 4D cinema.
Depending on when you go there is a bit of a queue for the 4D cinema but it’s totally worth it. I won’t give anything away, but it was good fun.
Finally, to finish the day we popped into the Bournville experience, a small exhibition detailing how the village was developed and the difference it made to Cadbury workers at the time. For a Social Anthropology post-grad this was a bit of a geek out moment. I do love a bit of social history.
Final thoughts on Cadbury World
And that’s it!
In a not-so-small nutshell.
Cadbury World is not just for kids. There is so much going on in one visit. I recommend you schedule around 3-4 hours for your entire visit.