Located in the back of the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot’s® World Showcase® , the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros® takes guests on a scenic but quirky and comical tour of Mexico. Along the way, guests can help search for Donald Duck while taking in the beauty and history of the country of Mexico.
The attraction used to be home to El Rio de Tiempo® , or The River of Time, which opened with the park on October 1, 1982. The original attraction was slightly more toned down than the current one, and took guests on a scenic tour through the beauty and sights of Mexico. On January 2, 2007 the original attraction closed its doors to make way for the grand opening of the current version on April l6, 2007.
The attraction now stars the characters of the 1944 Disney animated feature film The Three Caballeros. Donald Duck is everyone’s favorite cranky bird and is voiced in the attraction by Tony Anselmo. Also featured are Jose Carioca, a Brazilian parrot voiced by Rob Paulsen, and Panchito Pistoles, a Mexican charro rooster voiced by Carlos Alazraqui. Along with the introduction of the Three Caballeros themselves, their music was also introduced and guests can listen to the original song from the animated film “Three Caballeros” throughout the attraction.
Guests board the attraction in the back of the pavilion’s indoor courtyard where it is always dusk because that is when friends and family gather in the town. At the loading dock there are larger than life portraits of each Caballero, introducing them to guests for their journey ahead. Guests ride in sixteen seat boats and soon are off cruising the waters of Mexico. The very first portion of the attraction is my personal favorite as guests have the opportunity to gaze across the entire courtyard and take in The San Angel Inn Restaurante and the nighttime atmosphere. While passing the restaurant on the right, there is also a large temple and volcano on the left. Every so often a classic “Hidden Mickey” can be found in the smoke billowing out of the active volcano.
Guests then are introduced to Jose and Panchito who are about to perform when they realize that Donald is missing. They grab their magical sarape and guests are off on a journey across Mexico to locate Donald in time for the show. Guests are able to look for Donald in a mix of live action footage with animation, static sets, and Audio-Animatronics®.
The first scene guests look through features Mayan ruins including the famous pyramid in Chichen Itza. While Jose and Panchito are searching, Donald is sightseeing and getting into some pretty comical situations along the way. The boats then float into a fiesta scene where there is a Festival of the Children. A skeleton mariachi band plays, the children dance, and there is even a piñata shaped like Donald. For fans of the original attraction, this music that used to be featured in this scene could get stuck in your head for weeks! You all know what I am talking about (la la la laaaa)!
The next portion of the attraction features many water activities that can be enjoyed in Mexico. Donald can be found snorkeling, parasailing, and cliff diving. The cliff diving scene could also be seen in the original version minus the animation of Donald. The scene in the original attraction also paid homage to the extinct Magic Kingdom® Park attraction If You Had Wings® which also featured a similar scene.
The boats then pass through what was previously a marketplace scene in the original attraction where guests would be spoken to by merchants who were trying to sell their goods. Now the scene features a party with a mariachi band playing and a very reluctant Donald being pulled away by Jose and Panchito from a group of admiring women. While passing through this scene, be sure to look up at the festive banners which display the Caballeros faces on three of their panels.
Now that Jose and Panchito have found Donald, the show can go on! Guests enter into the finale scene where a small boat can be found on the left with a “Viva Donald” sign. On this boat, look for a classic “Hidden Mickey” formed by three drums. Soon fireworks can be seen overheard and a setting based on Mexico City appears. The Three Caballeros are finally united on stage and perform their hit song for guests. Just before departing, guests are bid farewell by Donald, Jose, and Panchito while passing by a large map depicting the popular destination spots in Mexico today.
The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros® is a fun and entertaining way to experience the beautiful sights ad history that Mexico has to offer. Plus, Donald’s antics are always entertaining! So be sure to stop by on your next visit to the Mexico Pavilion! Adios!
What is your favorite part of The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros®? Do you miss the original version of the attraction? Ever spotted either of the “Hidden Mickeys” I mentioned? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
(Photos from my personal collection.)
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.