The first ship passed through the Panama Canal in 1914, the USA transferred ownership to the Panamanians in 1999. Today the canal is being widened to accomodate larger ships on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal. The wider locks are set to be completed by 2014, appropriately the century mark after the canal opened. Miraflores locks on the Pacific side is located about 25 minutes outside of Panama City. This viewing platform and museum opens at 9am. A play by play is called in both Spanish and English as the large ships pass through the canal. The largest of these ships pay upwards of $250,000 toll to pass through the canal. The smallest entry has been for a man who swam through the canal!
You have excellent views of the locks from the platform – allow at least 45 minutes to an hour on the platform to see multiple ships raise through the locks and to get a better understanding how the system works. The museum is spread among 3 floors with the highlight being a 3d video which makes it feel like you are the captain as you steer “your ship” through the canal.