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The important thing to remember when visiting the Miraflores Visitor Center is to go in the afternoon. You won't see much if anything before 2 pm. (which is why taking the boat tour is usually so boring as it leaves at an hour very few (big) ships pass through the locks).
The big "Panamax" vessels enter the Panama Canal in the early morning (6-8 a.m) on each side; they cross each other on the Gatun lake and start coming out around 4 pm. So go to the visitor center at 2 pm, check out the exposition and then settle at the terrace of the restaurant on the 2nd floor and enjoy the spectacle.
A taxi from Balboa to Miraflores would be about $ 7; from the city $9.
To learn more about the Panama Canal and its history, read the book "Path between the Seas". Highly recommended.