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Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros

Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros is the updated version of a water ride, El Rio Del Tiempo (The River of Time) situated in the Mexico pavilion since its opening.  It is much the same ride (and I will take a look at that in more detail in another post) but with added colour of the Three Caballeros, Donald, Jose and Panchito.  This guide begins with the version of the ride that I rode with my wife on our visit in 2007.




The entrance to Gran Fiesta Tour is to the left of the Plaza de Los Amigos which leads you to a short weaving queue line and down to the boarding area.  Here, guest board boats before embarking on their river journey.  The wall of the dock is adorned with three portraits of Panchito Pistoles, Donald Duck and Jose Carioca.

This first part of the ride takes guests past the large, rather eerily lit pyramid, surrounded by forest, which could be seen from the Plaza.  This is on the river's left whilst on the right, riders can see diners in the San Angel Inn enjoying their repast (and beyond that the Plaza itself).  Just beyond the pyramid, in the far distance, a smoking volcano can be seen.

Riders then float past a large, stone head of Olmec design.  I have seen a similar stone head in artist sketches of the original plans for the Mexico pavilion.  It would, apparently have served as the entrance to the queue line for the original water ride.  There is more information here.

This takes riders through a low, stone arch.  Up to this point, there has been merely the gentle sounds of Mexico at night: the sound of the water and birds tweeting in the forest.  As you approach this archway, voices can be heard from ahead of you.  The archway leads into a tunnel at the end of which is another, more ornate archway.  A spotlight shines down and, as the boat moves on, Panchito Pistoles appears to introduce himself, followed by Jose Carioca.  A third spotlight appears ready for the entrance of Donald Duck, but only a lone guitar appears in his place.  Panchito and Jose decide to search for Donald as the boat floats past and into a wider area of Mexican architecture.  On another screen, we find Donald adorned with numerous sombreros and taking photographs.

As riders float onwards, we see that Jose and Panchito have boarded a magic carpet and are flying around to find Donald.  More screens show Donald aboard a boat, a mariachi band floating along behind, and then attempting to climb the steps of a mesoamerican pyramid (which turn suddenly into a slide, sending him careering to the bottom).  Meanwhile a winged statue points Jose and Panchito in the right direction.  

The boats pass through another arch and guests find themselves amidst a fiesta!  The town is full of Mexican children dancing, singing and playing instruments (in a scene strongly reminiscent of It's a Small World) whilst on a bridge over the river, four skeletons form a mariachi band.  This scene is bright and colourful.  By now, the strains of The Three Caballeros song (from the film) can be heard as we float through.  One lovely element of this scene is the Donald Duck pinata two children are seen playing with on the left, as you pass under the skeleton mariachi band.

Passing through another arch we find a screen showing Donald chasing after his swimming costume which is paragliding above him!  The route is now adorned with palm trees and we see Donald diving off a large cliffside into the sea.  Meanwhile, another screen shows Jose and Panchito, still aboard their flying carpet, searching for Donald in a restaurant and being startled by a chef with a large knife and a waiter serving roast duck!

The ride now takes us through darker caverns with views through to beaches and a pool of water below us to the right, where we can see Donald, now underwater and meeting some octopi.  The sun is setting on the horizon and Jose and Panchito switch on their carpet's headlights!

It is now night, as we return to a town.  A mariachi band plays to our left whilst balloons and streamers tumble from above.  Mexican women wave and smile at Donald who scrabbles towards them before being dragged on to the flying carpet by Jose and Panchito who have finally caught up with the errant duck.  The party continues around them.  Through another arch into another part of town and the sky is filled with exploding fireworks as the boats pass underneath.  To our left is a display 'Viva Donald' where eagle-eyed visitors may spot a hidden Mickey.  As we move into a cityscape filled with towering skyscrapers, we find a stage to our left where a screen shows the Three Caballeros reunited and performing their song and dance number.

The ride then passes under another arch passing a map of Mexico on their left and a painting of the Three Caballeros with the legend 'Adios Amigos!', all accompanied by their voices calling out farewells to the riders.  Here, boats return to the boarding area allowing guests to exit the ride.

What I love about Gran Fiesta Tour is that is it so colourful and vibrant.  The Three Caballeros are presented on HD screens throughout the ride and the fact that they tell a little story is fun.  What's also good is that the story strongly echoes the original feature with Donald lusting after various women, the three friends travelling on a flying carpet and their eponymous song and dance number.  This is a hugely satisfying ride.


Recently, the ride has been updated with the replacement of the final screen by three audio animatronic figures of the Three Caballeros.  These were apparently part of the old Mickey Mouse Revue show, at Magic Kingdom, before being moved to the Tokyo Disneyland version of the same attraction.  They have been returned to America and installed at the end of the Gran Fiesta Tour.  A wonderful piece of Disney's history (but would it be heresy to say I might prefer the original animated sequence?).

I feel, squirrelled away in Epcot's World Showcase, that this is an attraction which doesn't get the love and attention it deserves.  Certainly, before visiting in 2007, it wasn't a ride I was aware of at all.  It is exquisitely designed and the attention to detail is phenomenal.  It is now one of my favourites at Epcot and I wouldn't hesitate to make it a first port of call on our next trip.  I'm sure it is one my children would enjoy.

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