My Holidays in Malta, Popeye Village

Popeye Village

As a rule when I am on holiday or travelling and reporting back on a place I try and remain positive and upbeat, I try to find the best in a place, I try not to be disappointed.

Today is an exception – I am going to tell you about Popeye Village.

Popeye Village is in Anchor Bay, Malta and it was constructed as a film set for the 1981 film starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall.  When the film was shot and the actors had all gone home the set became a modest tourist attraction.

I first visited the place in the summer of 1997 and in those days it still looked like a film set.  Entrance can’t have been too expensive because in 1997 I wasn’t that keen on parting with unnecessary cash (still not actually).  The buildings were much as they would have been for the shooting of the film, a lot of timber and the smell of sawdust.  There were a few little embellishments of course to try and amuse visitors but really nothing too dramatic.  In fact I think I remember thinking that it was dangerously close to falling down, one Mediterranean storm and it would be surely washed away and gone!

Popeye Village 1

Fast forward twenty years…

Returning to Malta and the Mellieha Bay Hotel it seemed like a good idea to visit again and take my grandchildren.  I thought that they might like it there.

Not wishing to rely upon the dreadful bus service I booked a taxi at several times the cost of the bus and it arrived on time and took us to the entrance of what is now marketed as a theme park.  I arranged to be picked up in three hours time and the taxi driver gave me a card and a sympathetic look and said if we needed picking up earlier then we should give him a call.  There was a message in there which I missed.

The first shock was the entrance fee, I nearly collapsed on the spot and had to be held up while I tapped in my credit card PIN number.


As soon as were inside I knew that it was terrible.  The place has been given a gaudy paint makeover, all horrid primary colours; at the centre was a man who was dressed as Popeye but didn’t look anything like Popeye, a man dressed as Bluto but didn’t look anything like Bluto and a woman dressed as Olive Oyl who I have to concede did look a bit like Olive Oyl.

We stayed for about one hour, the children were bored, even they couldn’t find anything to amuse them, the boat ride was late and overcrowded, it wasn’t even a boat, it was a rubber dinghy, the water park was a paddling pool, the free drink (adults only) was barely a thimble full of something cheap and horrid and after sixty minutes or so (less probably) I searched though my pockets for the taxi driver business card.

On the way out Sally set out a list of complaints to the staff –   this is usually my job, I am the one to get irritable and argumentative but Sally completely upstaged me today and eventually I had to drag her away from the ticket booth before she trashed the place and thankfully the taxi turned up to take us back to the sanity of the Mellieha Bay Hotel.

Popeye Village 2

As I remember the film wasn’t that good either.  Rubbish actually!

I cannot find any single reason to recommend this place, it is expensive, it is amateurish and it is really quite dreadful.  It took me a couple of beers to get over the experience.  TripAdvisor gives it a rating of Four Stars, I give it minus four!

If you are going to Malta do not waste your money on this so called attraction.  If you are determined to see it then walk or drive to it and take a look from the other side of the bay, do not waste your money going inside!

So now I am thinking.  Where else have I been that has also been underwhelming and a disappointment.

If Popeye Village is top of the list then second has to be Gatorland in Florida which I had the misfortune to visit in 1990.


And in third place it will have to be the Wild West film set in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands where I went with my daughter Sally in 1987.  She was less than one year old so happily for her she has no recollection of it.


What is the most disappointing place that you have ever visited?

39 responses to “My Holidays in Malta, Popeye Village

  1. I thought that was a strange movie.


  2. I know we’ve been to a number of disappointing places but I just had a conversation with my wife and determined that we’ve successfully blocked them out of our memory . . . or, we’re going senile.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. The WHOLE city of Prague 2. The National Museum, Kathmandu 3. Yosemite


  4. Like you, I usually manage to find the good things about most places and / or, like disperser, i’ve blotted the really bad ones from my mind. Also, it seems from your post that places aimed at children are adept at ripping you off, maybe relying on pester power to get you to part with the cash. Not having children, i’ve managed to avoid those!


  5. Life will always have disappointments….


  6. Interesting topic for a post – enjoyed it! Got me thinking and like another comment here I must have blocked out bad experiences… Disneyland in France would be one though – belonged in the US not France and even our 11 year old son at the time thought so.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, either I’m very discerning in my choice of places or very lucky. (then again, the memory’s not what it was 🙂 ) I’ve racked my brains and nothing comes to mind, Andrew. 🙂 🙂


  8. For me it’s any of our more popular National Parks that are simply too overcrowded these days. I was so spoiled seeing them back in the 70s, but now they are often elbow to elbow with tourists. We’ve been going to more out of the way spots that perhaps haven’t been on everyone’s bucket list. Seems as though those sort of wild places are getting harder to find.


    • What is the reason? How are so many people getting to them?
      In Europe it is the Cruise ships that deliver hundreds of thousands of people to small places that cannot cope with the numbers and which completely ruin places like the Greek Islands!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s a combination of things. There’s the younger folks with their ‘selfies’… standing at the edge of a cliff in order to take that selfie, some even having to be rescued. Then I’ve also noticed quite a few foreign languages being spoken. Judging by license plates, I’m guessing quite a few fly in to somewhere in California or Washington (state) and then drive up or down the coast. I’ve gotten into conversations with some folks from Norway, France and Rumania. That’s what they told me they were doing.

        One night in Death Valley, we camped next to a youngish Asian couple. They swooped in next to us and set up two large tents. We couldn’t figure out why they’d need such large tents. Well after sunset another car rolled in and it looked like both sets of parents (just guessing) arrived and they all sat up late into the night making a big ruckus. It was awful. I remembered Death Valley when I drove through it in 1978. I don’t think I ran into more than a dozen folks. This last time the cars going through some of the well known bits were almost bumper to bumper. Almost impossible to pull over anywhere or to get a picture without a mob of tourists in it.

        Oh… and I forgot to mention the overall number of people living on this planet. It can’t help but get crowded as you’ve noticed with the Cruise ships. I think it’s much the same phenomenon, they just arrive in rented cars instead.


      • Some times places just become too accessible!


      • Amen to that! I’ve moved a bit farther away from some of the larger population areas so we haven’t been inundated just yet. We see a bit more traffic in summer (when the winds can be pretty nasty), but so far the mobs have been pretty bearable.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Me too on Prague. I didn’t like it at all.


  10. Any place that charges an outrageous fee, is a place I don’t have to visit, Andrew. But with the kids along… Sounds like even a full can of spinach wouldn’t be enough to fortify someone to see the Popeye Village! –Curt


  11. Anything for a quick quid (or buck) where money’s concerned, taste takes a back seat.
    You’d never get me in one of those places!


  12. I don’t do the me parks. I rather look at the scenery around me. And I love going to the places the locals go to.


  13. I’d forgotten all about the Popeye movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. And thank goodness I never went to the Wild Wild West film set. I nearly did, but happy hour seemed more attractive.


  14. Hi Andrew, sorry to know your visit to Popeye village wasn’t up to the mark! Yes, even i try to find the positives in every place i visit, but there could be few disappointments… you have traveled extensively and it will be great if you can share a couple of reviews on my website


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