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Review: Cadbury World, Birmingham
10:01am Monday 9th December 2013 in News
MUM, it’s nothing like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” my two daughters told me sternly on the journey to Cadbury World in Birmingham.
They’d been before, but I hadn’t, and I expected Willy Wonka himself to be holding the door open for us, arms outstretched.
No such luck.
In fact, arriving at the venue is a bit of a joyless affair, with unsmiling parking marshalls and the insistence on a pre-arranged arrival time.
This high level of crowd control also means you are herded around the 14 “zones” in a one-way-only manner. As for oompa loompas popping up all over the place, forget it.
But, having come to terms with the lack of Roald Dahlesque influences and all the micromanagement, it was just sweetness and light. More than 660,000 visitors went before us last year at the attraction which opened in 1990.
Of course, it’s Cadbury-munching galore, as you march from zone to zone. It starts with free chocolate bars at the entrance (before you head into the Aztec Jungle exploring the history of chocolate), via white-coat-clad staff handing out melted chocolate, and ends, of course, inside The World’s Biggest Cadbury Shop — misshapes for the budget-conscious, 1kg bars for the heavy users.
Inside an auditorium, we are told about the history of John Cadbury’s empire and how he created parks and a pretty model village for the workers around the Bournville factory. We’re also shaken like cocoa beans on the benches we perch on, which proves funny.
The Cadabra ride is delightful, whizzing us past all manner of funny little cocoa bean-y scenes in a little car, and the kids marvel at Cadbury advertising from before they were born.
Sadly, the packaging plant is out of action for the day, but we do see some workers behind glass working on limited-edition chocolate products.
We make our own chocolate creations, too, piping our names on a worktop, and get to choose our favourite confectionary to be added to melted chocolate — jellybabies in my case, which made for quite a concoction. After two hours of being immersed in chocolate, it’s nice to sit down in the open air at the African-themed adventure playground, sip a coffee and ponder the celebrity visitors who have been here before us, according to a display.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Wood, Lenny Henry, Stephen Hawking ... we’re in good company.
We spend the night at the revamped Travelodge Birmingham Central Ring Hotel, in the city centre.
The chain has recently finished its 12,000th refurbished room and is keen to spread the word about their latest feature, the “Dreamer” by Sleepeezee, aka the “Rolls Royce of beds”, according to the info.
After the afternoon’s fun and frolics at Cadbury World, followed by exploring Chinatown and eating at American-themed Missoula (two meals for £8.25 — a snip), this enormous bed proved very tempting. Although our spacious, modern family room came with two extra single beds, the kids wangled their way into my ultra-comfortable king-size — and slept like logs.
Breakfast was help-yourself heaven and set us up for some serious retail therapy at the enormous Bullring shopping centre, which features stores not seen in Bolton such as Forever 21, Hollister and Selfridges and attracts 38 million visitors a year.
As far as my pre-teen and teen are concerned, this is the best place for shopping in the country, so there you go.
As I head back up the M6 with two happy daughters, a few pounds heavier thanks to Cadbury’s, a few pounds lighter thanks the Bullring, but well rested thanks to Travelodge’s super-duper bed, I have to admit — Birmingham was bliss.
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