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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting Wet and Wild in Panama

 My twin sons playing at Jungle Falls

One thing Panama is seriously lacking in, is fun things to do with the kids. Aside from the rivers and beaches, there’s very little to do with your kids. Gamebox, in the Multicentro Mall, is probably my favorite place to let the kids unwind indoors. There you’ll find a full arcade (you have to purchase a refillable card in order to pay for the games), bumper cars, a Vikingo ship ride, a couple other carnival style rides, and a jungle gym play area for the younger kids. 

In addition to Gamebox you’ve got Kids Planet located inside of Bennigan’s Extreme Planet on Avenida Balboa. There aren’t as many activities for the kids at Kids Planet as there are at Gamebox, but Extreme Planet does have a nice (although somewhat expensive) bowling alley. Albrook Mall has a Space Play or something like that, with arcade games and things like that, but no one has really done in right. We need a good, clean, well-maintained Chuck E Cheese or something like that.

Something else that’s lacking, and really surprises me since it’s a hot, tropical climate so close to the ocean, is the lack of water parks. When I lived in Chicago (one of the coldest places on Earth during the winter) they had several great indoor water parks. My kids had a blast living in the Chicagoland area. Even Anchorage, Alaska, has an indoor water park.

My four kids (Victoria, Estefania, Matteo, and Nicolas

I finally found an outdoor water park here in Panama, but it’s in bad shape. I took my kids last weekend to the Jungle Falls water park, which is owned by the Avalon Grand hotel chain, and is actually connected to the Avalon hotel here in Las Cumbres. One of the pools, and several slides were closed during our visit, so we only had to pay $5 each. Kids under 4 are free. The usual price is $7 per person.

The park looked dirty, old, and kind of rundown. Rust covered many of the overhangs. However, although not the prettiest water park in the world, my kids had a blast. The toddler pool has a couple of small slides, like in the picture below.

Estefania on the big kid slide

The lunch counter serves items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, each about $4-$5 with fries and a soda. The lazy river is short, but nice for the whole family, and the guys running that part of the pool are very friendly. They helped us get our kids into the innertubes, and immediately searched for a larger tube for me. One large pool is available for the whole family to swim together, and up the hill a ways is a set of 5 slides, for the bigger kids. Only my daughters used these slides, but they had a blast. 

I wish someone would invest some money in this park because it actually has potential, and it’s the only one around that I know of. Some fresh paint, a little more cleaning of the pools, and just a general spark of some sort; some activities, or something to make the place more lively would really turn the place around. At the moment, the place is only animated by a DJ playing reggaeton music from gigantic speakers. Well…until someone creates something better, I don’t mind taking the kids for some fun in the sun for only $7 each. 

Thanks for reading,