There's a new kingdom in the Orlando area. It's not a theme park like the Magic Kingdom or Disney's Animal Kingdom, but it's not too far from the Walt Disney World Resort and it's open to visitors. It's Chocolate Kingdom, just off Highway 192 (Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway), a museum, chocolate factory, greenhouse, and store that just opened up adjacent to Fun Spot.
Chocolate Kingdom is the perfect spot for chocoholics. You get to see how your favorite candy is made, from the cacao trees growing in the greenhouse all the way to the machinery preparing the end product and freshly molded chocolate bars.
The factory tour starts off with a movie on the history of chocolate and an overview of the chocolate-making process. Then you continue on into the museum and factory to learn about that history in a more personal fashion, to see chocolate making with your own two eyes, and to sample the tasty end result.
It's a family friendly experience that frames the story as a quest by Prince George and his wise-cracking dragon companion, to win the heart of a chocolate-loving princess by crafting her a pair of irresistible chocolate slippers. The characters appear throughout the tour, and of course there's a happy ending.
Click the slideshow at the top of this article for scenes from the tour.
Kids will enjoy the story line and also the marshmallow catapult game halfway through the tour. They'll also love the opportunity to taste cacao beans and then enjoy the finished product at the end with a sample of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.
Even the adults will learn some fun facts on the tour. For example, I learned that chocolate predates coffee by a huge margin and that white chocolate really is chocolate, or should be, because it should contain cocoa butter.
Tours leave every hour and cost $15 for adults and $12 for kids between the ages of 4 and 12. It takes about an hour, but the time goes by very quickly. The tour includes samples of beans, a chocolate drink, and finished chocolates, and you can opt to make your own custom chocolate bar with three toppings for an additional $5.
Chocolate Kingdom is adjacent to Fun Town and right near Old Town off 192. It's kitty corner from the Red Lobster restaurant, and it's open from noon to 8 p.m. seven days a week. If you don't want to go on the tour, it's still worth a visit to buy some of the delicious, freshly-made candies.