There are tons of people who absolutely live for visiting the Magic Kingdom and all of its surrounding theme parks – between Disney, Sea World, and Universal Studios Orlando has become a vacation mecca. But there are some (like me, for example) who just don’t understand making the trip on a regular basis: one and done is more my style when it comes to Shamu and Mickey. But now comes word that Orlando has added a brand new attraction that just might make me revisit my “no-more-Orlando” stance … the Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour.
Located just a short drive from the Orlando International Airport and all of Orlando’s iconic theme parks, Chocolate Kingdom is a chocolate lover’s dream. There’s a museum, a store, and a factory all located within a single facility. Though I think it would have been perfectly fine to have offered a straightforward educational program (with the normal amount of snarky humor and current events references that can be found from any self-respecting tour operation), the management apparently couldn’t tear themselves free from the town’s love of costumes and story-telling.
The tour is led by a handsome prince and his perky dragon companion, who take you on a journey to a land that is marginally fanciful, mostly factual. There’s a Cacao Tree Greenhouse and a chocolate river, but what was most interesting for me was the factory itself, which uses old-fashioned equipment to illustrate the process all the way from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar.
In what is a true stroke of marketing genius, guests are even offered the opportunity to create their own customized bar of chocolate to bring home as a souvenir – and speaking for myself, I’ll take a personalized bar of chocolate over a pair of mouse ears any day.
The Chocolate Kingdom is open every day of the week from noon until 8 p.m., with tours running every hour on the hour, and it does offer a nice, air-conditioned break from the walking and riding and standing in line that you’ll encounter at all of Orlando’s more traditional and better-known venues. One bit of advice – I’d save the tour for immediately before you’re returning to your hotel or to the airport, as we have all made the mistake at one point or another in our lives of letting a bar of chocolate sit in a super-heated car for more than a few minutes.