The tour starts with the origins of the cocoa bean in the rainforests of the tropics. Our guide told us each cocoa pod produces 30-50 beans and it takes 6-8 pods to make just one pound of chocolate. A preview film displays fun trivia about chocolate and introduces the characters of a Prince and his sidekick, a fire-breathing dragon. The kingdom’s Princess is having a birthday, and the prince hopes to woo her with the gift of shoes made from chocolate. Naturally, chocolate and fire-breathing dragons don’t get along, with the obvious melty consequences.
After the pre-show, the tour entered the ‘rainforest’, where Mayans discovered cocoa is the food of the gods. Here we had our first taste of cocoa beans, with a light sugar crusting and made our own discovery: answer the guide’s questions and you’ll get a sticker!
We were introduced to the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, their discovery of chocolate, and how they took cocoa back to Europe, ending with a sample of the chilli spiced chocolate drink favoured by the Mayans, and a taste of chocolate nibs. In 1901, Mr. Hershey turned it into actual chocolate bars for the first time, we were told, heralding the arrival of the confection as we know it today.
The prince and his dragon friend picked up the fantasy story again, and the children on our tour were delighted when they were prompted to use a set of catapults to fire marshmallows into the dragon’s mouth so he couldn’t breathe flames as we entered the chocolate castle (via a ‘super secret’ entrance!).
Inside a manufacturing kitchen, we saw the process of making chocolate and tried samples of raw, unsweetened chocolate, then dark, milk and white chocolate. The tour ended with the creation of personal chocolate bars (paid for and selected ahead of time).
It’s a fun diversion on your rest day from the parks, or when the weather isn’t cooperating. Chocolate Kingdom has a second location, at 9901 Hawaiian Court just off International Drive. The Kissimmee location can take 35 guests per tour, while I-Drive accommodates 50-55. Tours run on the hour, but arrive 15 minutes early for check-in, especially if you want to create your own chocolate bar!