Whether you’re treating your students to a field trip or visiting Atlanta with your senior tour group for the first time, Centennial Olympic Park is a destination you won’t want to miss. In addition to its beautiful green spaces and the iconic Fountain of Rings from the 1996 Olympics, Centennial Olympic is home to two of Atlanta’s most popular tourist attractions: the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola.
A charter bus is one of the easiest ways to reach these iconic Atlanta destinations without worrying about finding parking for individual cars, getting lost on downtown’s narrow streets, or waiting on everyone to arrive in different rideshares. At National Charter Bus, we love Atlanta, and we’d love to help you explore the attractions that make it such an exciting city. Give us a call at 404-400-1914, and keep reading to learn more about group visits to the World of Coke and the aquarium.
Because these two attractions are located a very short walk apart-–you can see the entrance to each one from the entrance of the other–many groups opt to visit both of them in one go. And the good news is that, since you can usually finish touring World of Coke in just a few hours, doing both attractions in one day is completely feasible.
What’s less feasible is finding parking for your entire large group in downtown Atlanta. Although there is car parking for the aquarium and the World of Coke, the parking is in two separate decks. So if you wanted to abide by all of the rules, you would have to move your car in between stops. You’d also have to pay for everyone’s individual car.
On the other hand, if you take a charter bus, your bus can drop you off on Luckie Street near the aquarium’s main entrance. You can then walk to the aquarium and World of Coke while your driver parks in the Georgia World Congress Center Marshalling Yard.
The best part? Parking only costs $25 per bus, so you’ll save a ton of money in parking fees. Your driver can then easily join you at the aquarium and World of Coke or wander around downtown enjoying themselves until it’s time to return to the bus and pick your group up.
Since World of Coke generally closes earlier and takes less time than the aquarium, we’ll start there, although you can visit the attractions in any order. World of Coke typically has the following operating hours:
Sun-Fri: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sat: 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
The address is 121 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, but once your charter bus drops you off, the red Coke bottles painted on the building will make your destination easy to find.
If you’re bringing a large group to World of Coke, you’ll need to fill out the group visit request form online. If you’d prefer to talk to someone directly, you can also call Group Sales at 404-676-6074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you call, email, or fill out the form, a team member from World of Coke will get in touch with you to arrange your visit, and you’ll receive a discount on your tickets. However, note that you’ll need to purchase all of the tickets in a single transaction to receive the discount.
Adult (13-64): $16
Senior (65+): $14
Youth (3-12): $12
Toddlers (0-2): Free with paid adult
The World of Coke offers multiple accommodations for visitors with disabilities, and National Charter Bus has ADA-accessible buses to help you get there. Check out the list below to see if WOC offers the accommodations you require for your group, and if not, make sure to talk to a World of Coke Ambassador and let them know what you need.
For guests who are deaf or hard-of-hearing: Reflective and video captioning is available for many presentations, and assistive listening devices are available at Guest Services.
For guests who are blind: You can pick up a Braille guide map and an audio guide that describes the exhibits at Guest Services.
For guests with limited mobility: Power chairs, mobility scooters, and manual wheelchairs are all welcome, and manual wheelchairs are available for rent at Guest Services. All exhibits are wheelchair-accessible, but during especially busy times, there may be limited room for electric scooters to maneuver. World of Coke recommends using a manual wheelchair if possible during those times.
Got a service dog with you? Don’t worry: though pets generally aren’t allowed on charter buses (unless they’re in crates), service animals are free to board the bus without being contained. They’re allowed at World of Coke, too, so you won’t have to give up your essential companion. Just let National Charter Bus know you’ll be bringing a service animal when you request an accessible bus.
The World of Coke also tries to be more accessible in ways unrelated to disabilities. They offer guide maps in multiple languages, and many of the World of Coke ambassadors speak multiple languages. So don’t be afraid to visit with students or family members who speak English as a second language–just grab a guide map in the correct language before heading to the exhibits.
World of Coke’s exhibits cover everything from the history of the beverage to how it’s bottled and marketed. You may find yourself learning about twentieth-century history, chemistry, engineering, and world cultures at the same time you learn about this iconic beverage brand.
Start at Milestones of Refreshment, a historical exhibit which includes a soda machine from the 1880s and a Coke delivery truck from the 1930s. Then head over to the Vault of the Secret Formula. Although you won’t be able to see Coke’s formula when you visit, you will learn about the chemical origins of the formula, how competitors have tried to copy it, and the methods the Coca-Cola Company has used to keep it secret.
At Bottle Works, you’ll watch a slow-motion model of a Coke bottling plant in action and learn about how factories are designed. And in the Pop Culture Gallery, you can explore the creative process behind world-famous marketing campaigns like It’s the Real Thing, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” and Coke’s yearly Christmas ads (which were largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus!)
The World of Coke is a great destination for families, church youth groups, and sports teams. Kids can take pictures with the Coca-Cola polar bear in the lobby, see a movie in the 3D theater, and then sample beverages from around the world at Taste It!
One of World of Coke’s most popular exhibits, Taste It! showcases drinks you typically can’t find in the U.S., like Sparletta Sparberry, served in several African countries, and Inca Kola, a favorite in Peru. Kids with a sweet tooth will love the various flavors of Fanta, like Fanta Pineapple from Greece and Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand. Since all of the samples are free, the only downside is you might have to stop your kids before they end up on a sugar high!
World of Coke doesn’t offer food on site, but the Georgia Aquarium does, so you may want to make sure your group is at the aquarium around lunchtime. Cafe Aquaria provides plenty of seating space for groups and all food is served cafeteria-style, allowing each person to customize their meal to fit their preferences. This makes the cafe a viable choice for vegans, vegetarians, people who eat gluten-free, and people with food allergies.
Cafe Aquaria serves American staples like cheeseburgers, pizza, and chicken tenders, plant-based options like Beyond Burgers and salads, and homestyle entrees that rotate daily. Kids can also choose an Uncrustables sandwich or corn dog from the children’s menu, and you can treat yourself to a cookie, brownie, or slice of cake if you need energy before walking through the aquarium’s many exhibits.
The largest aquarium in the U.S., the Georgia Aquarium spans more than 13 acres (that’s more than 500,000 square feet!) and contains over 10 million gallons of water. It’s also home to more than 100,000 animals, including otters, penguins, Beluga whales, sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins.
The aquarium tends to stay open fairly long hours, which is convenient for groups who want to tackle more than one activity in a day. The aquarium’s typical hours are below, though you should always check the exact hours for the day you’re planning to go:
Mon-Fri: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Sat-Sun: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
The aquarium’s address is 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, but like with the World of Coke, you can probably find it without the address once your charter bus drops you off. The aquarium has a distinctive glass exterior that resembles a ship, accented by a giant “G” shaped like a fish.
Group visits are something of a specialty for the Georgia Aquarium. Corporate groups, schools and scouting troops can request discounted group tickets by filling out a form online or emailing email@example.com. Photo by Yuan Yue on Unsplash
In addition to discounted tickets, your group reservation may include a few complimentary tickets (if you have enough people), free ticket shipping, and assistance with your itinerary from an aquarium professional. If you want to make a group reservation, you’ll need enough people to meet the aquarium’s minimums for groups:
General Admission: Groups of 15 or more
Sleepovers: Groups of 10 or more children (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, youth groups, school groups); all others groups require 15 or more
Education: General Admission: Groups of 15 or more students
Education: Instructor-Led Program: Groups of 15 or more students in same grade level (the Instructor-Led Program is when a professional museum educator helps to guide your group.)
Once you send in your online form or email, the aquarium will send you a reservation form and let you know how much you need to pay for your deposit. After you return the form and pay your deposit, you’ll receive an invoice for the rest of your balance.
It’s okay if you only have a tentative headcount when you first make your reservation, as long as you meet the minimum group size requirement. You can make changes to your headcount by contacting the Group Sales office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-581-4121. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Although you’re free to make changes to your reservation before your visit, the aquarium does set deadlines for when your final headcount and payment are due. For all group visits except sleepovers, your payment and headcount are due 2 weeks before your visit. For the sleepover program, you’ll need to finalize your reservation 1 month in advance.
You can either pick up your group tickets from the Will Call window on the day of your visit or have your tickets mailed to you via UPS. Mail is usually a better option since Will Call lines can get long, but if you’re doing a sleepover, Education: General Admission or Education: Instructor-Led Program, you’ll be required to get your tickets from Will Call.
You can also book the Southwest Lounge for a birthday party or bridal shower during your group visit. The lounge can be reserved for groups of 25-50 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Mon-Fri. Although there’s no cost to rent the room, there is a food and beverage minimum, and the space is subject to availability.
The aquarium has multiple accommodations in place to help guests with disabilities make the most of their visit. Check out the list below to make sure they have the accommodations your group needs, and contact the aquarium’s Group Sales office if you know you’ll need accommodations that aren’t listed.
For guests who are deaf or hard-of-hearing: Visual scripts are available at the Information Desk for all smartphone audio tours. On the last Sunday of each month, an ASL interpreter will be at the first sea lion and dolphin shows of the day. Just visit the information desk to let them know you’d like to attend an interpreted show.
For guests who are blind: Tactile displays are available at the education stations in each gallery and scattered throughout the River Scout gallery. You can also ask a staff member for a realistic 3D model of the animals in most exhibits. In addition to the regular audio tours that are available, descriptive audio is offered for the beluga whale exhibit, and staff members are happy to provide verbal descriptions for other galleries.
For guests with limited mobility: All exhibits are wheelchair-accessible, and manual and powered wheelchairs are welcome, as are scooters. If you need to rent a manual wheelchair, you can do so at the Information Desk. Many exhibits have wheelchair symbols on the floor to indicate where you can receive unimpeded views of the tank, and the aquarium has several accessible touch pools.
For guests who have autism: The Georgia Aquarium offers a social story to help guests with autism prepare for their visit. The aquarium also provides expedited lines, designated quiet zones, and sensory bags with noise-canceling headsets, sunglasses, fidget devices, and “I need/I feel” cards to assist with communication. In addition, you can request a bouncy band or weighted lap pad when you pick up your sensory bag at the Information Desk.
Like World of Coke, the Georgia Aquarium welcomes service animals, though it doesn’t allow pets. Your companion can accompany you on the charter bus and throughout the aquarium.
The aquarium’s largest exhibit is Ocean Voyager. Containing 6.3 million gallons of water, it’s one of the biggest single aquatic exhibits in the world. Walk through the 100-foot acrylic tunnel while whale sharks, manta rays, and blacktip reef sharks swim over your head, and stop at the enormous viewing window where everyone, including guests in wheelchairs and small children, can see the sharks, rays, and fish.
If you’re a penguin fan, you won’t want to miss Cold Water Quest, home to the African variety of these adorable birds. Stick your head into one of the pop-up windows to get a close view of the penguins as they slide, waddle, and eat on the rockwork designed to resemble their natural habitat. Cold Water Quest also provides a home for beluga whales, harbor seals, and Southern sea otters.
Want to learn about animals that live near Atlanta? River Scout, the aquarium’s only freshwater exhibit, houses regional animals like alligators and snapping turtles as well as species from around the world like African pancake tortoises, emerald tree boas, and piranhas. The entire exhibit is designed to simulate a flowing river, complete with waterfalls and logjams.
And of course, no group wants to leave the aquarium without finding Nemo. He’s at the Tropical Diver exhibit, an artificial coral reef designed to resemble the Indo-Pacific Barrier Reef. You can find Dory there too, as well as garden eels, seahorses, and jellies (commonly known as jellyfish).
Every part of the aquarium is awesome for kids–it’s an aquarium, after all–but the Aquanaut Adventure exhibit is specifically designed for younger visitors. Watch your children cross the swinging rope bridge, let them gently brush their fingers against sea stars in the touch pool, and challenge them to complete their choice of 49 kid-friendly, hands-on STEM activities.
Kids will also love the aquarium’s shows, like Dolphin Coast, which stars Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and “Under the Boardwalk,” which gives sea lions a chance to shine. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the Penguin Waddle Walk, when trainers bring out two penguins and let them waddle through the atrium of the aquarium. (Yes, it’s as cute as it sounds.)
When you’re finished exploring the aquarium, your charter bus will be waiting to pick you up on Luckie Street. Just climb aboard, relax in the air-conditioning, and let your driver navigate the Atlanta traffic to take you safely to your next destination.
The World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium’s close proximity to one another makes it easy to visit the two in a single day, and no trip to Atlanta would be complete without exploring these iconic destinations. Book your group tickets and then call National Charter Bus at 404-400-1914 to reserve your transportation.
Don’t worry about paying for parking, arranging carpools, or cramming all of your kids onto an un-air-conditioned school bus. We’d love to pick you up in a charter bus with climate control, plush, reclining seats, and even bonuses like free WiFi. All you have to do is relax and let your professional driver take you safely into the heart of Atlanta.