Today in Disney History, 1945: ‘The Three Caballeros’ Released in the U.S.

by | Feb 3, 2024 | Disney History, Disney Movies

On this date in Disney history in 1945, Disney released The Three Caballeros in the U.S., following its release months earlier in Mexico and the U.K.

On February 3, 1945, Disney released The Three Caballeros. This film contains seven segments that are tied around Donald Duck and his birthday. It premiered in Mexico a few months earlier in December 1944, and was released in the United Kingdom a month after its U.S. release.

The Three Caballeros Segments

The film was part of Disney’s goodwill campaign to Latin America. As such, Donald’s two friends José Carioca the parrot, and Panchito Pistoles the rooster represent Brazil and Mexico respectively. As mentioned earlier, The Three Caballeros consists of the following seven segments:

The Cold-Blooded Penguin

This segment follows the story of a penguin from Antarctica who no longer wants to be in the cold and searches for a warmer climate. The story follows his journey through several countries of South America.

The Flying Gauchito

The next segment shares the story of a boy from Uruguay and the adventures he has with his winged donkey named Burrito. And is it just me, or does the boy and the donkey look very similar to Pinocchio and the donkeys he runs into at Pleasure Island?

Baía

In this segment, we see Donald and his Brazilian friend José explore a Brazilian city. In the midst of dancing, Donald falls in love with one of the women during a mixed live-action and animated scene.

Las Posadas

This segment shares the story of Mexican children who reenact the story of Mary and Joseph as part of their Christmas celebrations (posada means “inn” in Spanish). We also see the tradition of the breaking of a piñata and Donald’s attempt at it as well. 

Mexico: Pátzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapulco

In another mixed live-action and animation segment, the Three Caballeros get a tour of Mexico City on a flying serape. Once again, we see Donald’s attempts at wooing the ladies but to no success.

You Belong to My Heart

This is a musical number that shows (you guessed it) Donald falling in love with a female singer in the night sky. 

Donald’s Surreal Reverie

The final segment of the film is a trippy sequence that shows Donald dancing and singing amid (as the name suggests) surreal animations. The film then ends in a display of fireworks.

Like other early Disney films, The Three Caballeros is not without controversy. In fact, if you try watching it on Disney+, a warning is displayed before the movie begins that it contains negative depictions and stereotypes of people and cultures. 

The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros

For fans of Walt Disney World, The Three Caballeros are more known for the themed ride in EPCOT’s World Showcase. This slow dark boat ride is located inside the large pyramid in the Mexico pavilion that is also home to a marketplace and the ​​San Ángel Inn Restaurante. 

The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros was the first attraction in the World Showcase to be themed after a previously existing Disney property. It replaced El Rio del Tiempo in 2007. Since then, Frozen Ever After in Norway and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in France have also opened.

Plot of the Ride

The boat ride begins with the Three Caballeros scheduled to perform a concert. However, Donald Duck has gone missing, leading Panchito Pistoles and José Carioca on a search to find him. After going around the Mayan pyramid located in the back of the pavilion, the boat ride then travels through multiple scenes showing various aspects of Mexican culture as the two characters look for Donald. Just like the film, the attraction also uses a combination of live-action and animated footage. 

Eventually, Donald is found, and the boat ride ends going through Mexico City under a beautiful display of fireworks as the Three Caballeros perform their show. Similar to “it’s a small world,” this is a calm, musical boat ride that is family-friendly with no height restrictions.

The Gran Fiesta Tour inside the Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT The Three Caballeros

Photo by Laurie Sapp

The best part about this attraction is that there’s usually never a long wait. And even if there’s a line, it moves pretty quickly. So it’s a great escape from busy crowds and Florida heat with an opportunity to give your feet a rest while relaxing and floating through the Mexico pavilion.

The Three Caballeros can also be found in a variety of other Disney media and also at Coronado Springs and All-Star Music Resort as part of the theming. Be sure to swing by and say hi on your next trip!

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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