The aroma of freshly made chocolate filled the air as we walked into the recently-opened Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour in Kissimmee. Nestled next to Fun Spot, the lobby is clean and inviting, and a sign at the door let us know that we're just in time for the next tour! Tours are held every hour, on the hour from 12pm – 8pm.
I did have a minute upon arrival to peruse the chocolate case, which included truffles for just $1.00, chocolate pretzels and other heavenly confections. Even if you don't have time for the tour ($15.00 for adults, $12.00 for children ages 4 -12), it's a quick stop off of 192 for very reasonably priced freshly made chocolate. I'll talk more about that later, with photos – including of the custom made chocolate bars that have been extremely popular with guests!
The 45 minute tour includes several rooms. The first room shares the story of chocolate in film. A story of Prince George the Good and his dragon, Meechu is a recurring theme throughout the tour, in an animated series of engaging, short films that help keep the tour from getting too dry for kids. Chocolate Kingdom commissioned the film, coming up with original characters. This is a family business, and the owners – Edgar and Aileen Schaked – wanted the factory tour to be something that families can enjoy together.
There are several stops along the tour, where we learned about the history of chocolate through the years. During the first stop, we learn about the tree Theobroma Cacao, which translates to "Food of the Gods". Samples are given out as we walk through – but not of the finished product as we know today until we get to the very end. There is a section of the tour that teaches about the Mayans and Aztecs – chocolate has been around a very long time, but not in the mass produced way we can buy it now. Only since the 1800's can anyone have easy access to purchase chocolate.
One of the more popular parts of the tour is a room with several catapults. Everyone took turns sending marshmallows into Meechu's mouth! And in the next room, there is a small chocolate river that flows near a chocolate castle. We were told that this area will be expanded. Chocolate Kingdom just opened in January 2013, and they have quite a few plans in the works (including wine and chocolate pairings). The last stop on the tour is the room where chocolate is actually made, which includes a Melangeur machine (from approx. 1920) that mixes the cocoa with the other ingredients.
At the end of the tour, everyone is given 3 small chocolate slippers – in dark chocolate, white chocolate, and milk chocolate.
The factory tour runs about 45 minutes, and our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
At the end of the tour, we bought one of the customizable chocolate bars for $5.00. The bars are generously sized, and 3 choices of add-ins can be included (out of 15 available). We chose bacon, cashews and pretzels. It's fun to watch the conveyer belt bringing the chocolate bars to the front of the store once the bars are ready!
We also enjoyed picking out some truffles at the end of the tour to try. We came home with 7 truffles, at only $1.00 each (except for the "gator eye", which was $1.50). If you are wanting gifts, there are chocolates packed in attractive boxes as well.
Edgar Schaked is from a third generation chocolate making family, which has been manufacturing chocolate since 1969 under the name Schakolad (a combination of "Schaked" and "chocolate"). So while Chocolate Kingdom itself opened in January, it has a heritage of over 40 years, and you can find their chocolate in nearly 2 dozen Schakolad Chocolate Factory stores in the United States – all selling "Made Fresh on Premises" chocolate items.
Chocolate Kingdom can be a little tricky to find, give yourself an extra few minutes! There are directions on the official website, and I suggest calling ahead for tour availability.
These are the truffles we brought home:
Disclosure: The tour was provided to Mousesteps, we purchased the chocolate bar at the end of the tour. All views are ours, and we'll be heading back soon to Chocolate Kingdom!