So. Believe it or not, when we sat down here at the house and formulated a list of things to do and places to see during our last-minute visit to Panama City Beach for Tripfilms.com, Gulf World didn’t make the cut. For whatever reason. Probably because we’ve done the “marine park” thing before and we really weren’t motivated to do it again. And quite honestly Panama City Beach just didn’t seem like a big enough town to support a high-quality marine-park type facility, and we didn’t want to spend what little time we had in town touring some run-down, sad old place. Been to those kinds of places before and they’re not fun.
But when we started asking around – talking to people “in the know” about what’s the haps in PCB – we were dang-near unanimously told that if we were coming to Panama City Beach to do a series of stories about Panama City Beach, there was no-way no-how we could come to town and not swing by Gulf World. It’d be a crime they said. It’ll really surprise you, they said. So that naturally got us to looking a little closer.
We quickly learned that not only is Gulf World one of the biggest attractions in PCB, but people absolutely love the place.Love it. The reviews on Tripadvisor alone are stunning. Not that Tripadvisor is the end-all-be-all guide to who’s who and what’s what, but we’ve found in our many travels that it’s pretty darn reliable. Especially when a place sucks. People certainly aren’t afraid to go on-line, tell their horror stories and warn other folks about it. So for a place like Gulf World to get those kinds of reviews, and that many of them… well, we figured we had better go see what this place was about after all.
And clearly, we were very surprised by Gulf World. By just about everything about it. Just a few hours there and we could definitely see why people enjoy it so much. No, it’s not exactly SeaWorld – but the cool thing is it’s not trying to be. One of the first impressions we got about Gulf World is how the place just seems very comfortable being what it is: a very small, but very high-quality facility. No maddening crowds. No thrill rides. No overwhelming sense of commercialization. And you don’t feel like you’re getting flat-out robbed when you visit the concession stand. The staff was friendly. The shows were extremely well done. And the animals all seemed extremely well cared for.
So, yeah. We really enjoyed the park and would definitely recommend a visit. Especially for the kiddos. They’ll have a monster good time watching and learning about all the animals, and better still youwon’t leave the park feeling like you’re ready to pull your own head off. And these days that’s sayin’ something.
What do you guys think about Gulf World? Ever been? Leave a comment and let everybody know. And in the meantime we’ll be putting the finishing touches on our next video from PCB which will drop next week.