Days before my 6th Birthday, way back in 1980, a film adaptation of Popeye was made by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions.
Never would I have thought that a mere 37 years later I would be visiting the film set here in Malta with my 3-year-old daughter, Bridget.
What’s more that it would be right on my doorstep!
Now, to prepare Bridget for her visit, I scrolled through what seemed like hundreds of family musical films until I found Popeye for her to watch (the facility to type in what you are looking for on an android box is no more, but that’s a whole different story).
Unfortunately, she took an immediate dislike to Bluto, or rather ‘the man with a big beard and no eyes’ as she chose to refer to him, and Popeye was soon replaced by Peppa Pig, or rather ‘that annoying little brat’ as I choose to refer to her, (Peppa, not Bridget).
Anyway, a little Mummy to Daughter chat about how cool Popeye Village would be and what to expect, soon got Bridget so excited she was counting down the days…starting from twenteen.
So here I am on a rather hot Friday morning entering Sweethaven (aka Popeye Village) with Flora the Explorer and a very excited Bridget.
Popeye Village has not only been recognised and as Quality Assured by Malta Tourism Board but has also been awarded Certificates of Excellence by Trip Advisor in both 2016 and 2017.
Open all year around, opening times depend on the time of year. In July and August, it is open from 9.30am-7.00pm.
Equipped with plenty of water, a ham sandwich and some jelly sweets the three of us embark on our adventure.
There are bus routes that take visitors directly to the attraction and if going by car (as we did) car parking is not a problem, although getting there early during peak season would be advisable.
During summer, entrance fees are €16 for adults and €13 for children and pensioners, extremely reasonable considering a whole day can be spent there and free activities are also included.
After hugging a wooden stork, Flora and myself find ourselves being led by Bridget (or rather dragged) as we first head off for a game of crazy gold.
Bridget had taken it upon herself to knock on doors of the quaint little houses surrounding this play area in vain hope a fairy would answer.
I bit my tongue held back from informing Bridget that no fairies appeared in Popeye (little did I know how useful withholding this information would be later in the day!).
Activities followed one after another, a re-enactment starring Popeye, some pirates and unsuspecting visitors kept Bridget enthralled, a visit into Olive Oyl’s house, a mini cinema, a puppet show, gift shop and to my complete surprise, a pool with slides for the little ones.
I say complete surprise as I didn’t bring any swimming gear, unlike Flora who had done her homework and had her swimsuit on under her clothes and was ready to jump in. Bridget’s eyes lit up once more and feeling like the worst mother on the planet I stripped Bridget down to her underwear, popped her in the pool and left her in the very capable hands of Aunty Flora the Explorer while I raced back to the car, shot home, grabbed some swimsuits and towels and drove back.
Bridget was having so much fun she didn’t even realise I had gone. I’m not sure Flora was having as much fun chasing her round but in any case, this awarded her with 100 bonus points, while I, on the other hand was well into minus figures for forgetting the swim stuff!
Remember how Bridget had been knocking on doors looking for fairies?
Well it was at this point I was glad I hadn’t mentioned anything at the time. Getting Bridget out of the pool was not as easy as getting her in (understatement of the year). After refusing to come out, a temper tantrum and an outburst of “get your hands off me” I took Bridget to one side and through gritted teeth came out with the infamous line “just wait until you get home madam”. As per usual this had no effect whatsoever.
Luckily Flora stepped in and very easily managed to scoop Bridget out of the pool by telling her that the fairies whose doors she had been knocking on would come and visit her in her dreams if she got out of the pool. The result? Bridget straight out and hugging Flora, 100 more bonus points for Flora and another minus 100 Mummy.
After a calm packed lunch and a rest, Bridget joined in a little game of trying to wake up Bluto who had fallen asleep on a deckchair next to us. When Bluto awoke, the treasure box from his lap had been swapped by Popeye and some visitor children.
Bridget was all too keen to point out what had happened and which inform Bluto of the direction the culprits had headed. Her good deed done for the day, we all headed for a drink. Finding a quiet spot, Bridget ran around singing in excitement about the day she had had.
Despite this being one of the hottest days of the year, the sea was rather choppy so we opted out of the boat trip.
Bridget was looking tired, so after my cup of tea we headed for home.
With plenty of sunbathing and relaxing space available too, this is a perfect place to visit for all the family with something for everyone to enjoy.
Plenty of entertainment and a wonderful experience!
Back in the car, we said goodbye to Popeye Village. Bridget was asleep before we reached the end of the road.
Thank you Sweethaven, we had an amazing time and will be back soon 😉