Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is It A Small World After All?

During a recent conversation with some prospective future retirees to Panamá, a subject arose that had never before.  In talking about the future airport being built on the other side of Coronado this visitor said he heard that Disney was looking to open a park here.  It would be called Disney Latin America and tourists could fly to the park from all over the world, directly into the new airport that would open someday in Rio Hato.

An expensive Disney park here in Panamá?  A country of this size could never support such an endeavor.  Anyone that's every visited one of their parks knows that a one day pass is around $100 per person.  In a country where the average earnings are around $400 or so per month, an average family of four would have nothing left to live on after one visit to the park.  Although I've enjoyed many a day in Disney parks in Florida I certainly don't want to live near one!

Outraged by the thought I did some research and here's what I found out.  An article that referenced this $658 million dollar project, said that Disney bought the land back in 2001 to build a 350 acre theme park near the entrance to Coronado, a high-end beach community.  As part of the deal Disney with the cooperation from the local government, would change the names of nearby towns to cutesy cartoon like names.  For instance the beach town of Gorgona would become "Agrabah" after the Arabian town in Aladdin.  Gorgona would also become an extra parking lot for the park where guests would board a train and be taken to the main entrance of the park. 

As I continued to read the article I became enraged, since our house is just five minutes down the road from Gorgona.  I didn't sign on for this.  Had I wanted to live outside of a tacky, Disney theme park I would have retired to Florida.  But as I continued to read the article it said that the project was to be completed by November 2012....last year?  Well below is the full article for you to see for yourself.  Be sure to click on the link at the end for the full whammy...along the gringo trail.

By Rodrigo Campos, Associated Press Writer Ciudad de Panama

Panama officials confirmed today that the government of Panama has issued The Walt Disney Company the required permits to begin construction on a $658 million theme park near the Pacific Coast. The first phase of the project, which will be named Disneylandia, is set to be completed in November 2012 and will include a theme park, hotels, airport, and production studio. Located on the Pan-American Highway near the entrance to the resort town of Coronado, the 350 acre park is expected to significantly increase the number of tourists entering the Central American country annually. Disney officials cited many reasons for choosing Panama as the new location of Disney, including a dollarized economy, strong democratic government, and the need to give Latin American residents who find it difficult to get an American Visa the opportunity to visit the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disney purchased the land in 2001, and plans to purchase more land in the future for expansion. (more)

As part of a deal struck with Panamanian officials to bring the theme park to the tiny country, the names of nearby coastal areas will be changed to reflect Disney inspired themes. This has drawn the ire of local residents, who claim that the government never met with them to discuss the changes.

"The government has sold out our beautiful community without telling us anything," says Ernesto Arosemena of Gorgona, which will soon be named Agrabah, after the Arabian town in Aladdin. The area at the entrance to Gorgona is slated to become a satellite parking lot, and officials plan to build a train from there to the main entrance of the park.

Disney officials are assuring locals that they will hardly notice the construction, officially set to break ground on December 28th. Although the park plans to have construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they tell residents that they should only expect traffic delays Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, please visit

Article found courtesy of Don Winners, Panama Guide


  1. Now can you fill the prospective retirees in on the joke? Can you even imagine! Legoland was vetoed here about twenty minutes from us and Disney also squashed plans to build a park by Dulles (we don't have the best weather or transportation for these HUGE amusement parks even though I love them) fortunately! And I don't want to even think about roller coasters in Panama (I wrote in my blog about his early on!). Just another day along your trail :)

  2. I sure hope Allison is correct! Having lived within a few miles of the Di.Isney parks in FL for a number of years, it may seem like a good idea for the tax coffers, but NOT for the residents of the area! Mayhem ensues when Disney arrives!

  3. Hey Clyde and Terry,

    I still talk about this Disney prank all the time. Because people still think it's true.

    A friend of mine, who has an uncle or something like that who is apparently pretty high up in some construction company (you know the whole "a boyfriend's friend's girlfriend said" kind of thing) swears that some people from Disney did come to Panama and that they have expressed interest in buying land here. I've also heard that they have bought land here somewhere. The thing is, even if any of these stories were true, Disney owns so much stuff that it still wouldn't mean there's a park on the way. It could be a Disney hotel, cruise port, casino...or whatever else Disney might want to do here.

    We keep hearing the same thing about Walmart too. They say that Walmart is buying up all the Super 99 stores from Martinelli. Is that true? Not sure. I think that one might be, but again, that might just mean that Walmart wants to soup up the Super 99 stores. It might not even mean that they'll change the name.

    Anyway...Disney and Walmart would be great for jobs, but horrible for local businesses and local life period. Can you imagine how much a fifty cent empanada would cost along the Pan-American Highway if Disney was located anywhere near? Suddenly we'd be paying $5 for an arroz con piña drink.

    Great blog guys, and a great subject. I just stumbled upon your blog today and it's got loads of great info. I'm using the same template on my blog. I swear I'm in the process of changing it. I had no idea. You guys were here first. Sorry for copying your look :)


  4. apparently people have the wrong impression about Panama salary, not every one makes 400.00 dollars, that is just for low income but, there is a lot of people that travel to take their family to Disney in Florida, what make us think that they will not be able to go wright there in panama, I think that Panama will be a great point for a lot of tourist that cannot travel to USA because they can't get a visa to take their family on a nice vacation, Panama is a fast growing country and that will give the country a bigger chance to grow even faster because, along with the park , other business will have the opportunity like hotels, cab drivers, food stands and so many other business.....Leo


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