Somewhere in America (possibly a town in Illinois), children go to a candy shop after school. Charlie Bucket, whose family is poor, can only stare through the window as the owner sings "Candy Man". The newsagent for whom Charlie works after school gives him his weekly pay, which Charlie uses to buy a loaf of bread. On his way home, he passes the legendary Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. A mysterious tinker recites the lines of William Allingham's poem "The Fairies", and tells Charlie, "Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out." Charlie rushes home to his widowed mother and his four bedridden grandparents. After he tells Grandpa Joe about the tinker, Joe tells him that Wonka locked the factory because of his arch rival, Mr. Slugworth, and other candy makers sent spies dressed as employees to steal Wonka's recipes. Wonka disappeared, but three years later began selling more candy. The origin of Wonka's labour force is a mystery.
Wonka announces to the world that he has hidden five "Golden Tickets" in his chocolate Wonka Bars. The finders of these tickets will be given a tour of the factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate. Four of the tickets are found by Augustus Gloop, a gluttonous German boy; Veruca Salt, a spoiled English girl; Violet Beauregarde, a gum-chewing American girl; and Mike Teevee, a television-obsessed American boy. As each child is heralded to the world on TV, a sinister-looking man is observed whispering to them. News break that the final ticket has been found by a Paraguayan millionaire.
The next day, Charlie finds money in a gutter and uses it to buy a Wonka Bar. He has change left that he uses to buy another Wonka bar that he intends to bring to his family. On leaving the candy store, he learns from the street that the millionaire was a fraud; one ticket is still at large. When Charlie opens the chocolate bar, he finds a golden ticket. While racing home, he is confronted by the sinister man seen whispering to the other winners. The man introduces himself as Slugworth. He offers to pay Charlie for a sample of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.
Charlie returns home with the news. Grandpa Joe is so elated that he finds he can walk, and Charlie chooses Joe as his chaperone. The next day, Wonka greets the children and their chaperones at the factory gates. Each is required to sign an extensive contract before the tour begins. The factory is a psychedelic wonderland that includes a river of chocolate, edible mushrooms, lickable wallpaper, and other marvelous inventions. Wonka's workers are small, orange-skinned, green-haired Oompa-Loompas.
Augustus ignores Wonka's warnings and falls into the chocolate river while trying to drink from it. He is sucked through a pipe which leads elsewhere; Wonka summons an Oompa Loompa to guide Mrs. Gloop to the "Fudge Room" before Augustus is harmed. In Wonka's "Inventing Room", the children are each given a sample of Wonka's Everlasting Gobstopper. Violet inflates into a giant blueberry after trying an experimental piece of Three-Course-Dinner Gum against Wonka's wishes. Veruca throws a tantrum after Wonka refuses to sell her a "golden goose", and falls down a garbage chute. Mike is shrunk to a few inches in height after being transmitted against Wonka's wishes by "Wonkavision", a broadcasting technology that sends objects through space instead of pictures. The Oompa-Loompas guide each child's parents to a place where they might rescue their children.
Charlie and Grandpa Joe also succumb to temptation, staying behind in the "Bubble Room" and sampling Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Floating skyward, they are nearly sucked into a exhaust fan. To avoid this fate, they burp until they return to the ground. Wonka seems unaware of the incident, but when Charlie becomes the only child on the tour, Wonka dismisses him and Grandpa Joe and leaves for his office. Joe follows Wonka to ask about Charlie's lifetime supply of chocolate. Wonka angrily states that Charlie violated the contract by stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks even though they weren't caught and therefore receives nothing. Fed up with all of what Wonka said, Grandpa Joe angrily explodes back to Wonka and acts mean until Wonka stops him. Joe also suggests that Charlie gives Slugworth the Gobstopper in revenge; Charlie returns the Gobstopper to Wonka and apologizes. Wonka then says to Charlie that he has won. Wonka then takes Charlie and Grandpa Joe in the Great Glass Elevator which he calls the "Wonkavator". Wonka tells Charlie that he and his family can move into the factory immediately.
- Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe
- Franziska Liebing as Grandma Josephine
- Ernst Ziegler as Grandpa George
- Dora Altmann as Grandma Georgina
- Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket
- Diana Sowle as Mrs. Bucket
- Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt
- Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt
- Pat Coombs as Henrietta Salt
- Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee
- Dodo Denney as Mrs. Teevee
- Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde
- Leonard Stone as Sam Beauregarde
- Michael Bollner as Augustus Gloop
- Ursula Reit as Mrs. Gloop
- Kurt Grobkurth as Mr. Gloop
- Gunter Meisner as Mr. Arthur Slugworth\Mr. Wilkinson
- Aubrey Woods as Bill the Candy Man
- David Battley as Mr. Turkentine
- Peter Capell as The Tinker
- Werner Heyking as Mr. Jopeck
- Peter Stuart as Winkelmann
- Madeline Stuart as Madeline Durkin
- Bob Roe as Peter Goff
- Gloria Manon as Mrs. Curtis
- Stephen Dunne as Stanley Kael
Actors Portraying the Oompa Loompas
- George Claydon
- Rusty Goffe
- Angelo Muscat
- Rudy Borgstaller
- Malcolm Dixon
- Ismed Hassan
- Norman McGlen
- Pepe Poupee
- Marcus Powell
- Albert Wilkinson
- Dreamland- Wilter Wonka and the Chocolate Factory