Show me the chocolate! Jayne Howarth on Cadbury World

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CADBURY World, Mmmmm.

You could smell it before you got to the gates. Chocolate. Mouth-wateringly tempting, sweet and slightly vanillary, the car followed the scent to the car park – and then to the overspill car park.

This is one popular venue – 8.5 million people have passed through its doors since it opened in 1990. It’s been some time since I’ve been to Cadbury World, in the heart of gorgeous Bournville, in south Birmingham – and boy has it changed: it might be my perception, but the number of “free” samples of chocolate has reduced drastically.

It’s an odd place to visit. What you want to see is a Willy Wonka type experience, a surreal factory line of Oompah Lumpas, magically producing Daily Milks and boxes of Roses from vats of bubbling liquid chocolate. What you get is quite different (you knew it would be, but you can’t help but hanker for a bit of magic). There are 14 zones to visit, most of which tell a story.

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There is the story how chocolate was used by the Aztecs; its journey to Europe by Hernan Cortez; the story of the Cadbury family; the story of how Cadbury Daily Milk was made; the story of Bournville.

Yes, yes, yes. Very interesting – good use of CGI, the story was told well etc. But what about the CHOCOLATE?

See the changing face of the Cadbury adverts over the past few decades; go all aboard the Cadabra ride for a very sweet journey (very much in the vein of the Winnie the Pooh ride at Disney’s Magic Kingdom); travel back in time to Bull Street, Birmingham, where Cadbury business started.

Okay. Nice.

But – excuse me: CHOCOLATE? Three bars, we got. THREE BARS – Curly Wurly, Dairy Milk and a pack of chocolate buttons. Oh, and an extremely lovely liquid concoction in Essence, the zone that engagingly tells the story of Cadbury’s most famous product, Dairy Milk.

I must admit, the children weren’t bothered about any of this. They were too busy enjoying themselves. They loved Essence – thankfully, we arrived early and got in straight away. The queue was massive later in the day – and found the Cadbury story fascinating. Purple Planet was fun, too, where children played interactive, digital games on a suitably chocolately theme.

However, I found the demonstration area a little disappointing: you could write your name in chocolate and watch a few people hand-make and decorate chocolate.

But, for me, the biggest disappointment was the packaging area. Now, I am realistic; I do understand that factory lines are not the most exciting things on Earth to watch. But when the hand-out warns you

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“to be amazed” at the  sight of Cadbury chocolate passing along conveyor belts, you expect something interesting. It wasn’t.

What I witnessed was a few corridors along which boxes of chocolates had been erected seven feet high behind a clear screen. If you craned your neck, you just about see a box or two of chocolate wending its way along a conveyor belt. This was excitement I could do without.

It takes about three hours to get around Cadbury World, which includes a good mooch around the biggest Cadbury shop in the world (a box of 60 bars of small Cadbury Dairy Milk worked out at 15p each) and there is a sizeable café that offered standard fare.

It was a shame it didn’t seem to offer imaginative chocolate-inspired menus. Oh – and don’t forget to pre-book your visit. Visitors can turn up, but might find that slots for the tour are full for the day or they have to wait a few hours to get around.

Factbox:

Admission prices Adult – £13.45 Senior Citizens – £10.30 Children (4-14) – £10.30 Students (with NUS Card) – £10.30 Family Ticket (2 Adults/2 Children) – £41.20 Under 4 Years – Free Family Ticket (2 Adults/3 Children) – £48.90

For additional information see www.cadburyworld.co.uk Information and booking telephone line: 0845 450 3599

Satnav: B30 1JS

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