Bosses at one of Birmingham's most popular attractions are hoping a new feature which opens today will provide a further boost to last year's record visitor numbers.

Essence is the first of two new interactive features being opened this year by Cadbury World to entice more visitors to the Bournville-based chocolate-themed attraction.

The feature is part of a £2 million investment programme which aims to cement Cadbury World's position as one of the largest indoor paid visitor attractions in the UK.

More than half a million people visited Cadbury World during 2004, and research carried out by the company suggests that many have revisited the attraction to experience new features when they open.

Cadbury World's general manager Gerald Baldwin said: "The launch of Essence is hugely exiting for us.

"The story of Cadbury and an exciting futuristic vision are all captured perfectly to give parents and children alike a whirlwind trip through the story of Dairy Milk, and beyond.

"We are constantly improving our product to ensure that we deliver even better value for our customers and our record visitor numbers in 2005 are testimony to this.

"With such a range of new experiences on offer this year, the growth is set to continue in 2006."

Essence aims to take visitors back to the early 1900s when George Cadbury Junior, from the third generation of the company's founding fathers, discovered the famous Dairy Milk bar.

George Cadbury Jnr actually picked up the skills of adding milk to chocolate during a visit to Switzerland. However, Essence injects some "fantasy" into the story. It recreates a room in 1905 Bournville which contains a chocolate-making machine surrounded by ghost-like forms of George Cadbury Jnr, an accomplice and his personal secretary Agatha Crumb.

The trio are battling to find a new technique for making chocolate. The 'Eureka' moment comes during a break where the group have a couple of glasses of milk.

Visitors are then taken into a another room where they get the chance to concoct their very own chocolate creation combining warm liquid milk chocolate with ingredients including popcorn, honeycomb, mint chips and jelly babies.

Cadbury World's sales and marketing manager Colin Samways said: "Cadbury World appeals to anyone who likes chocolate.

"Last year, for our centenary, we had lots of people here who were aged over 100.

"People love to hear about the history of chocolate and the history of the company."

Another interactive feature, Purple Planet, is expected to be launched in April and will be the exciting finale feature for visitors to Cadbury World. Details are currently being kept under wraps.

More then seven million people have visited Cadbury World since it opened in 1990.

The attraction cost about £6 million to design and build.