Review: Cadbury World, Birmingham – everything you need to know before visiting the chocolate attraction
The complete guide to Cadbury World and top tips including how not to get confused and miss half the tour like we did
What is it?
Cadbury World is a family attraction based around the famous British chocolate maker Cadbury.
It is not a tour of the actual chocolate factory which doesn’t open to the public due to food regulations.
Nor is it a theme park, although it does include a 4D cinema, a gentle ride and yes, some ‘free’ chocolate.
Instead, it is more of a museum or visitor centre – a trip through the history and making of chocolate and Cadbury confectionery.
Where is it?
There is only one Cadbury World and it is in Birmingham. Specifically, it is in the suburb of Bournville – the town that chocolate built – four miles south of Birmingham – in the grounds of the original Cadbury factory.
The village was founded by George Cadbury when he moved his chocolate factory there from Birmingham in 1879, with homes built to house Cadbury workers.
Some of my female ancestors worked at Cadbury including my great grandmother.
She was there for around 10 years before marrying in 1915 and one of her roles was to tie ribbons on the boxes of chocolates.
What did we think?
When you get out of the car, the sweet smell of chocolate tantalisingly fills the air and anticipation is high, particularly as this visit follows our recent viewing of the film Wonka.
But this is not a Willy Wonka-style chocolate factory. And sadly, you don’t get to see any chocolate being made or packaged.
As a reporter in the Midlands years ago, I once filmed inside the actual factory at Cadbury. Wearing a shower cap affair to cover my hair, I watched as Cadbury Creme Eggs were made and wrapped and it was a fascinating experience. I seem to recall that the main taster at the time, wasn’t too fond of Cadbury Creme Eggs, which I thought hilarious and a waste of an excellent job!
It’s a shame families don’t see any of this. What you do get is a history of cocoa beans in the Aztec Jungle, the Cadbury story and how the chocolate is made, over a series of different zones.
I will run through all the highlights of our trip first but there were several downsides too, including confusion over the time to arrive, the busy outdoor area, the queue to get in and the fact a lot of visitors (nearly including us) missed a huge chunk of the experience due to bad signage (more on this in top tips).
But the children seemed to get a lot of out of it and are already keen to go back so I’m overall pleased that we made the effort to go.
*Do you get free chocolate at Cadbury World?!
Yes. You are welcomed into the tour with a handful of chocolate bars – we were given a Cadbury Wispa, a Dairy Milk Caramel and a Twirl each.
Brandishing 12 chocolate bars at us, we were given the option to buy a small purple Cadbury bag for £1 or a Cadbury tote bag for £2 to put them in – it feels a bit grabby of Cadbury not to present them in a free bag but hey ho.
Then, during the tour you are offered warm, liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk in little cups with up to two toppings from a choice of chocolate buttons, fudge, mini marshmallows and crushed Oreos. Delicious but choose your toppings wisely, I felt the Oreo crumbs soaked up too much of the melted chocolate.
*The 4D Cinema
This is in the outdoor area and can be visited before or after (if not closed) your tour. Visitors wear 3D glasses, sit in motion seats and feel as if they are on a chocolate journey which includes a Crunchie rollercoaster.
There is a section where you watch someone demonstrate how chocolates were made by hand using moulds, in years gone by, which I found interesting, given my family connection.
*Drawing with chocolate
You can queue to have a few minutes drawing or writing in melted chocolate from a bottle.
There is a slow ride called Cadabra, where you sit two in the front and two in the back of a moving car around a track. This is a very gentle ride suitable for all ages.
A new ride is due to open soon called Cadbury Chocolate Quest.
Top tips and downsides
You would think an ideal arrival time would be shortly before the ticket entry time that you have carefully chosen, but you may be advised to get there much earlier.
When I happened to click on an instructions email on the morning of the day we were going (sent a few days earlier), it advised us to get there an hour and a half earlier if visiting in school holidays which we were (and 45 minutes earlier otherwise).
This is to ensure that you can enjoy the ‘outside activities’ before the tour, including the 4D cinema and play areas, as they may be closed afterwards.
We changed our plans to get there earlier, but wished we hadn’t (see the next top tip).
When we arrived at 1.45pm, the outdoor area was so crowded and noisy that it made for a stressful start to the day. We joined a long queue for the 4D cinema.
However, when we returned to the outdoor section at 4pm after our trip around Cadbury World, it was much quieter and there was no queue for the cinema at all.
So if you have children who would be at all sensitive to noise and crowding, check out the later cinema times and play area closing times before you arrive and consider doing this section later. It’s worth it even if you end up being stuck in Birmingham traffic afterwards.
Don’t miss any of the route!
It is a self-led tour, which led to some confusion on the day we were there.
Work was being carried out on a new area which may have caused the problem, but we and lots of other people exited the tour into the shop, having missed all the best bits.
I asked someone working there whether they no longer offered the melted chocolate in a cup (my best memory) and found out that we had taken a wrong turning, missing all the upstairs including the ride, demonstration and drawing with chocolate.
We were escorted back in and shown the right way but we had been following dozens of others who I am sure had done the same. I spoke to one woman later who had found the upstairs but still somehow missed the ride.
Tickets and queues
You must book tickets ahead of your visit, don’t just turn up. Even with booked time slots, we were queuing to get in for 10-15 minutes past our designated 2.30pm slot.
As well as the free chocolate, you can buy chocolate from the shop at the end or the factory shop if buying in bulk. Prices didn’t seem to be any different to supermarket prices.
You can also pre-order personalised chocolate items.
Cadbury World information
Merlin: Cadbury World is one of the attractions you can visit if you have a Merlin Annual Pass.
Parking: There is a free car park with lots of spaces.
Food: There is a cafe that you can visit on your way in or out, next to reception.
Character afternoon tea is available to pre-book on certain days (normally Monday to Friday, not in school holidays).
There are seats outside for anyone who takes a picnic.
Opening hours: Vary depending on the day, can be 9.30am-5.30pm or 10am-4.30pm, here are the up to date times.
Best for: All ages.
Time needed: It took us an hour and a half to get around the main section, including queueing at the start, allow extra time for the outside section including 4D cinema and outdoor play area.
Access and restrictions: Cadbury World only allows one guest who uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter per timeslot. A wheelchair slot and a standard ticket have to both be booked.
There are some wheelchairs at reception that can be borrowed on a first come, first served basis.
Carer tickets are available if certain criteria are met.
Babies: Children two and under are free but still need a pre-booked ticket.
There are baby changing facilities in all the toilets. There is a baby feeding room in reception and pushchair access throughout.
Address: Cadbury World, 69 Linden Rd, Birmingham B30 1JR.
To book: Cadbury World
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