Tim Zimmermann | Longreads | April 2015 | 25 minutes (6,193 words)
Panama City Beach, Florida is set on the alluring waters of the Gulf Of Mexico, in northwestern Florida. It’s a town of cookie-cutter condos and sprawling outlet malls, built almost entirely on the idea that blazing sun, a cool sea, white sand beaches, and copious amounts of booze are an irresistible formula for human happiness (or at least a pretty damn good time). Everything about the place—from the ubiquitous fast food, to the endless chain stores, to the Brobdingnagian miniature golf courses—is designed to anticipate and then slake the vast and relentless array of human desires.
Prime among the entertainment offerings is Gulf World Marine Park. It sits on Front Beach Road, the main drag that parallels the seafront, and promises sun-addled or bored families a respite from the nearby beach. By day you can swim with…
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