The history behind Malta’s "Popeye Village"

Photo by: Joseph Joyner
Photo by: Joseph Joyner

The history behind Malta’s "Popeye Village"

by Richard Brown
Stripes Europe

Some may remember the fictional cartoon character named Popeye. The spinach eating seaman was first introduced to the world back in 1929 by Elzie Crisler Segar, a cartoonist and writer from Chester, Illinois. The charismatic Popeye didn't start out as the popular character that we have grown to know. In fact, he wasn't even a main character; he was just one of many characters that appeared in the Thimble Theatre, a comic strip published in the Sunday paper. But Popeye’s humble beginnings wouldn't last long. By 1933, just four years after his debut, he would have his own cartoon series. "I Yam What I Yam" produced by the Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures would be the first of many episodes in the Popeye series.

Photo by: Joseph Joyner - Mgarr Harbour 

Fast forward to the fall of 1980. Although some may still be wondering what actually was going on in the film, “Popeye” the movie was actually a live-action comedy film, an adaptation musical, hence the dancing and singing number throughout the film. The movie was filmed in Malta; a small European island country between Sicily and the North African coast. Malta’s Popeye Village has grown from its days as a film set of the 1980s. Curious to know what the old movie set has to offer? Here’s a few things to remember before booking your trip:

  • For starters, the village was built decades ago, which means it has to be renovated from time to time to preserve its original look. You may get there and find that some parts of the village are closed off due to maintenance, so check with staff to see what’s available. 
  • The “Popeye” movie is playing throughout the village, so it’ll be easy to remember how and why it came to be.           
  • The once movie set is now considered a theme park, but not the kind that you may be used to. There are no roller coasters or anything of the sort. They have a swimming area for kids and adults. The majority of your time will be spent walking the streets of the village.   
  • The charming movie town is essentially for young kids. Professional animators create an atmosphere of fun by way of singing & dancing. 

Anchor Bay, Popeye Village, Malta

So, if you’re ready to relive some childhood memories or just looking for a great place to spend time out with the family, Malta’s Popeye Village will not disappoint. If you’re planning on going over the summer, make sure that you bring a good pair of shoes and lots of sunscreen, as you’ll be doing lots of walking and the average temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

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