June 29, 2006

“Chocolate Factory” theme park to open in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Amsterdam will get a theme park
dedicated to chocolate and inspired by Roald Dahl's children's
book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," city officials and
entrepreneurs said on Thursday.

Just like Dahl's fictional "Chocolate Factory" owned by
Willy Wonka, the main part of the "sweets park" will be located
underground, in a disused railway tunnel which was handed over
by the city of Amsterdam in a ceremony on Thursday.

The attraction, which is expected to open to the public in
two to three years, will feature a glass elevator and a
chocolate fountain, similar to the book. It will also produce
small amounts of chocolate.

"Ten years ago I made a radio play of the 'Chocolate
Factory' and ever since I've been fascinated by it," said audio
books publisher Maurits Rubinstein who started the project.

The city of Amsterdam and Dutch construction company BAM
are supporting the plan, which will cost 20 million euros ($26
million), partly raised with bonds that parents and
grandparents can buy for their children and grandchildren.

Amsterdam is the world's biggest cocoa port, processing
around 30 percent of the world's cocoa beans from countries
like Ghana and Ecuador. It supplies the key ingredient, cocoa
paste, to major chocolate manufacturers throughout Europe.

Amsterdam is also the place where Coenraad Johannes van
Houten invented the hydraulic cocoa press in the 1820s,
enabling the production of eating chocolate alongside the
already available drinking and cooking varieties. He also came
up with the process known as "dutching" to create a mildly
flavored cocoa powder that mixes more easily with water.

An impression of how the Chocolate Factory will look can be
found by clicking on Impressie on www.dechocoladefabriek.nl.