Penny Cliff Guest Columnist
September 13, 2013
Just seeing it online brought back memories of swinging high above the earth, feet hanging in the air while perched on the open seat, a mere bar separating me from a terrifying demise. The bright colored lights, soft night air, memories of times long ago all melding into one feeling: The joy of the Ferris wheel. And when I saw the SkyView advertised online, I knew this was where I wanted the Cliff family to spend our Labor Day, high above the Atlanta skyline.
Of course, it wasn’t the kind of Ferris wheel that I am used to. This one added an aura of safety. But it was still a Ferris wheel. And still very high. Being at the top of the SkyView almost 20 stories high, I was glad that the gondolas were enclosed. But what a wonderful sight! Located at the south end of Centennial Park, the SkyView gondolas even boast climate controls. The ride lasted about 15 minutes; thankfully, there was none of that swinging at the top you can experience on open Ferris wheels at fairs. The winding paths of Centennial Park, the rooftops of the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke were readily visible. It was a perfect day. In case of bad weather, for obvious reasons, the SkyView would be closed. But on their Facebook website are day to day updates on weather-related closings.
“Is that the World of Coke?” our daughter asked me. With that question, I figured that I would add just one more thing to our day. After retrieving our photographs from the kiosk (SkyView has a photographer take your picture while you wait in line), we headed across the street to cut through Centennial Park. It really is a lovely park with its expanses of grass, sculpture and water features. There were all sorts of people enjoying the mild weather: Old, young, creative, conservative. If you like to people watch this, is the place to be.
Finally we made it to the World of Coca-Cola. This is the first time any of us had been to the World of Coke since it moved locations from next to Underground Atlanta, and it is a hundred times more fun and interesting. It has everything! You want to immerse yourself in artifacts from yesterday and today, go to the Coca-Cola Loft. Do you like to see how things work? Visit the Bottle Works. Then there is the Vault of the Secret Formula – which is really neat. While we waited in line, the employees hit a beach ball in the air to all of us in line, to have fun and pass the time before our turn. Being in the front, we hit the ball several times. Once, the ball came hurling my way and bashed me right in the chest. The whole line cracked up laughing, including me. A word on the employees: professional and super nice. They remind me of the employees at Disneyworld.
One highlight before the MAJOR highlight was Nikki and I holding a real honest-to-goodness Atlanta Olympic Torch. Coca-Cola is one of the longest running sponsors of the Olympics.
And for the grand finale: The Tasting Room. Soda is a rarity in our household. So when we told our ten-year-old to go for it at the World of Coca-Cola, she was in heaven. We were in heaven. We went on a trip around the world sampling many of the over 60 different beverages. The Fanta Apple Kiwi was delicious. And the Beverly, well, you need to make that decision on your own. Try it anyway, just to say you have.
The exit takes you through the gift shop. Smart move. Husband Bill got his magnet and Nikki a Coca-Cola charm for her bracelet. Some of the things are really expensive, and others (particularly in the bins leading up to and to the checkout lanes) are more reasonable. If you collect Coca-Cola memorabilia, you’ll be in heaven.
My advice on visiting the World of Coca-Cola: Forget the caffeine buzz; forget the cost of the entrance fee, because you’ll leave remembering the fun time you had!