On April 6, 2007, the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros opened in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot.
This attraction replaced ‘El Rio del Tiempo,’ which ran at Epcot from October 1, 1982 to January 2, 2007.
‘El Rio del Tiempo’ began on a quiet river under an evening sky. It passed a volcano and continued on to scenes of native inhabitants. The ride continued with scenes of swimming, jumping into the ocean and relaxing at a bar.
It would then pass a Mexican shop, where merchants talked directly to the riders and tried to bargain with them. The finale was a fireworks filled night sky in modern-day Mexico City with oversized marionettes dancing in a carousel.
When the Gran Fiesta Tour opened, it was the first attraction in World Showcase to feature Disney characters based on an existing movie or property.
The attraction begins with posters indicating that the Three Caballeros are to perform a concert tonight.
After boarding the boats, guests float around the Mayan pyramid and volcano in the back of the pavilion’s main room. Guests then enter a tunnel on the side of the pyramid, where Panchito Pistoles and José Carioca of The Three Caballeros introduce themselves, only to find out that Donald Duck, the third member of the group, has run off, prompting Panchito and José to set off on a frantic search for their missing friend. The next few scenes show Donald touring Mexico and José and Panchito on a magic sarape (a sort of Mexican flying poncho) looking for him.
The next scene has characters similar to ‘it’s a small world’ with dancing animatronics and a Donald Duck piñata. Once past this area, guests enter a cave, which features different scenes of live-action footage with the Caballeros.
After leaving the cave, there are three panels featuring a Mariachi band in the first, some Mexican girls and Donald in the second and Panchito and José pulling Donald away from the girls in the third.
From here, guests float into Mexico City, where fireworks are going off overhead and the Three Caballeros are finally performing their concert.
The animatronic figures of the Three Caballeros were redressed and added in December 2015. They came from the ‘Mickey Mouse Revue’ at Magic Kingdom, which ran from October 1, 1971 to September 14, 1980.
The ‘Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros’ continues to delight guests of all ages in the Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT.