Living near Orlando produces a few #FirstWorldProblems like… “Seriously? Another murder-themed restaurant?” or at the same time, “I won’t go there. That’s soooo touristy.” Both thoughts were fighting each other as I purchased admission to the World of Chocolate.
Touristy? Perhaps. Orlando is flooded with places trying to grab every dollar from visitors who want a break from Disney. This has resulted in more mini-golf and over-priced restaurants than wanted. But we were stuck in Orlando for my Dad’s birthday and we wanted to bring him somewhere that tied learning with fun. Although it hasn’t been open long, half-off admission to the museum through websites like LivingSocial and Groupon eased our wallets.
The World of Chocolate is located slightly away from all the International Drive action. I was dismayed at most cars in the lot visiting the neighboring buffet instead. I disliked empty entertainment venues. That fear literally melted away as soon as the doors opened and both my eyes and nose were treated to… chocolate! Rows of brightly colored gourmet treats were waiting patiently to be chosen and devoured while that unmistakable aroma lingered in the air. Handfuls of people were relaxing at the little Café while consuming the treats or waiting for the next tour.
After watching a short video following Cacao Beans from its beginnings to harvesting, our energetic guide David continued the history lesson leading up to the ‘discovery’ of the chocolate bar. A jungle-themed room, canvases, and European furniture assisted in the story. We tasted how the first Chocolate drinks must’ve tasted—blech—it was very watery with a strong Chili kick.
A larger room housed landmarks from around the world: Taj Mahal, Big Ben, Barack Obama and more—all captured as large, Chocolate sculptures. David told us special lights had even been installed to prevent the room temperature from rising and melting everything. I didn’t notice a temperature difference at all. Although the sculptures had been left out past the point of eating it safely, I still drooled at the sight and the smell. Cravings aside, the sculptures were already impressive especially when you realize the difficulties of molding such delicate food.
A short walk past molding equipment brought us to another tour highlight—the sampling area! Tour Guide David emphasized us savoring and not merely chomping. Although the samples were tiny… wow… they were packed with creamy flavor! My favorites were the Dolfin Chocolat infused with Earl Gray tea (I was surprised to enjoy the Lavender hints) and the Santander Wild Blackberry which featured a good contrast of slightly bitter Berries. Another room was a gallery containing Chocolate wrappers and smaller sculptures from brands around the world—but we flew through this area.
Paying the full-price admission (around $16) is higher than the tour’s worth. I believe the worth and price of the World of Chocolate breaks evens at $10 or less per person. Food-factory related tours are often free with the guides teaching about the how-tos or the ‘insider info’ one can’t easily find from an online search; a good portion of WOC’s tour is a verbal history lesson which is why I feel its admission cost goes more towards the gallery-related exhibits. I understand it’s difficult to have a food tour not focused on a specific brand (like Hershey’s or Yuengling) but like in a wine-tasting I would’ve wanted my guide telling me what ‘notes’ to expect during each tasting.
David was still an excellent guide especially in creating entertainment with the limited material a place like this gives. My family took great photos out of the experience. Even the small chocolate cakes we purchased from the Café were good reflections of the tour—full flavored with extra dimensions from an infusion of fun.