When we were invited to visit Cadbury World recently it took us about ten seconds to reply and say YES! We're big chocolate fans, particularly Tall Daughter who dressed in a purple outfit for the trip, so much is her devotion to the dark stuff (chocolate, not Guinness.)
We live in the North-west so it was a good 2 hour drive to get there, and the first thing we noticed as we left the M5 is that some of the roundabouts and junctions en-route didn't have any brown 'Cadbury World' signposts. it meant we took a couple of wrong turns before arrived, although we loved driving through Bourneville, the pretty village built by the Cadbury family for their workers.
We had pre-booked tickets for the 11.40am tour, and it was already quite busy and when we were leaving a couple of hours later it was crazy busy in the foyer so I would definitely recommend booking ahead. If you do have to wait and the weather's nice and you have small children, you can make use of the outdoor play area which looked great. Unfortunately, I visited with three teenagers (my own two, and one of their friends) and despite my encouragement they wouldn't use it. Teenagers, eh?
You can also visit the Essence Emporium, a mini-show with a chance to 'make' your own chocolate flavour, although The Teenager was disappointed that she didn't get to do anything herself - you're asked which flavour you'd like (from a choice of four) and it's added to melted chocolate and put into a small cup with a spoon.
As we waited to start the tour, I jokingly said that I'd like to have chocolate thrown at me from time to time, and I wasn't far off because we did have chocolate thrust at us on three occasions throughout the tour, which can only be a good thing. We were also quite excited to spot Augustus Gloop in the queue, or at least his doppelganger. All that was missing was the lederhosen.
The tour itself is self-guided, so you go at your own pace, and it's really very interesting in parts. We enjoyed learning about the origins of chocolate, and how John Cadbury started selling it from his tea shop. I loved learning about the history of Cadbury and their philanthropy. We also enjoyed watching clips about how the different chocolates are made - Creme Eggs, Easter eggs, etc - but it's a shame we didn't see any of it in person. It's not the same on a screen.
The part of the tour that took us through a small section of the factory seemed like a lost opportunity - the idea of watching already boxed bars of chocolate rolling off conveyor belts wasn't very exciting. Much better though, was when we reached the demonstration area with real human chocolatiers, who were making fancy chocolate boats, shoes and Halloween products. Watching skilled people at close range is always a treat, and this was no different. There's also a chance to write your name in chocolate, and who doesn't want to do that?
I particularly enjoyed the Advertising Avenue with old posters and clips of Cadbury's TV adverts, although this should have been a much bigger part of the tour (doesn't everyone remember the songs and slogans from their favourite ads?) and there was no reference to possibly the best ever Cadbury's ad 'Everyone's a fruit and nut case'. No worries though, because I sang it for the rest of the tour much to my daughters' delight. Or maybe not.
Finally, at the end of the tour you emerge into the Cadbury's shop where there's plenty to choose from and some of the prices are pretty good, although their 'Factory Shop' had exactly the same prices as the main shop!
We thought the tour was much better suited to families with younger children as there seemed to be lots of activities to keep them amused, but not so much for teenagers. Having said that, we all enjoyed it. All three teenagers said they'd had a good day so that's great, and we did have some laughs. Thank you to Cadbury World for inviting us.
Oh, and we were also sent some Cadbury Pebbles to review which caused a bit of a kerfuffle chez notSupermum. Three people and only two bags to review, which meant we had to share!
Anyway, they're like Mini Eggs but bigger and flatter....in fact they're shaped a bit like a pebble, fancy that! We liked them, and they come in a resealable bag although why anyone would have any left to reseal is a mystery to me.