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Gazing at giant ornaments, reading cheerful holiday letters, and tasting seasonal flavored Coca-Cola… if this all sounds like a day filled with Christmas magic—you’re absolutely right.  And for me, it was just another day at work.  My assignment: set off to the World of Coca-Cola for the ultimate holiday experience then write about it. So here it goes…

Polar bear ornament

The entrance to the World of Coke

For anyone who has not been to the World of Coke, it’s a pretty remarkable place. Tour guides tell you about the history of the most beloved beverage in the world, you meet the Coca-Cola polar bear, and you then venture around the ultra-modern building for interactive fun. So what could possibly make this attraction even better? Well, add Christmas to it.

Ornaments, Movies and [Polar] Bears – Oh My!

When I first walked out of the parking deck I was immediately greeted by life-size ornaments. 11 uniquely decorated holiday bulbs dazzled throughout Pemberton Place, (the area outside of the World of Coke entrance).  From snowflakes, to doves, to polar bears and candy cane stripes, each ornament rocked a distinctive holiday persona. After my initial awestruck moment, I strolled around for a bit trying to decide which one was my favorite. Then my eyes struck Santa.

There she was! An ornament adorned with Coca-Cola Santa enjoying what else but an ice-cold Coke. They all oozed festivity but none quite like this colorful masterpiece designed by Atlanta artist, Steve Penley. 

Intern Meagan in an ornament

Just hanging out inside an ornament 

After snapping photos of every last ornament, including taking a picture inside of one, it was time to thaw off my frozen fingers. I headed inside just in time to catch the next showing of the feature flick, Polar Bears. The mini movie was adorable. The Coca-Cola polar bears definitely stole the show with their charisma and caring message. I give it a round-of-a-paws

After the 7-minute flick, it was time to meet the real Coca-Cola polar bear. Well, as real as it gets. I rushed out of the theatre to make sure I was first in line. Standing at about 8 feet tall, the cuddly creature looked lifelike— minus his signature smile, Coca-Cola scarf and matching red eyes of course.  As I eagerly approached my favorite character, he embraced me with a great big bear hug.

“Say cheese!”  Mr. Polar Bear’s mouth formed a smile as we posed in front of the North Pole back drop. To this day it blows my mind how he smiles but like the Coca-Cola formula, some things are best kept secret.

"My Coke Story": wall of letters to Coca-Cola 

Next stop—the “My Coke Story” station. Year in and year out, World of Coca-Cola visitors have the chance to write a letter telling a story about how Coca-Cola has impacted their life. Many of these letters hang from floor to ceiling on a dedicated wall. On-lookers can read the personal letters that range from heart-felt stories like the time a couple fell in love while sharing a bottle of Coke to lighter stories like a traveler’s visit to a foreign country where the only thing not foreign was Coca-Cola in a cooler.

During the holidays one special letter is featured. Mounted in a shadow box apart from the rest, this particular letter takes you on a trip down one lady’s memory lane. Lucy, as she signs, reminisces about a Christmas tradition dear to her—drinking Coca-Cola with her mother’s Tamales. The sweet story left me thirsting for my own Coca-Cola.

A Cup of Christmas Cheer

My wish was granted! As I made way towards the exit I enjoyed a final taste of the holidays—literally. The grand finale of the World of Coca-Cola tour is the “Taste It” room. It’s a room filled with over 100 different flavors from around the world. Of course I wanted to guzzle down all of them but this time around my taste buds were on specific mission.

Gingerbread Coke

Gingerbread Coca-Cola

I was there to sample two special flavors—Gingerbread Coca-Cola (Recipe) and Chocolate Cherry Coke (Recipe). These drinks were actually the inspiration for my visit. Once I caught word of the two exclusive holiday beverages it was game on, I had to try them!

Sure enough, they were worth the wait. The Chocolate Cherry Coke was as scrumptious as it sounds. I mean really—how can you go wrong with adding chocolate to any recipe?  But even as a self-proclaimed choca-holic, the Gingerbread Coke was hands down my favorite. It had just the right amount of ginger to give it the perfect Christmas bite. The best part is you can even make them at home (Cheers!). 

It’s safe to say my holiday assignment was a festive one, indeed.