The Three Caballeros return to EPCOT’s Gran Fiesta Tour

Historic audio-animatronic figures get updated look, technology

Sign for the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (Landon McReynolds, McReynolds)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Walt Disney World Imagineers have returned The Three Caballeros to EPCOT’s popular Gran Fiesta Tour located in the Mexico pavilion.

The bird audio-animatronic figures flew the coop in January, leaving many Disney fans wondering where they went.

[TRENDING: ‘She was really loved:’ Tattoo artist found dead | Skydiver killed after mid-air collision | ‘Incredible:’ Up-close pics with pregnant shark]

The Donald Duck audio-animatronic was the first to go missing and in its place was a plant with a sombrero. The other characters, José and Panchito, went missing not long after leaving the stage with plywood cutouts of the famous characters.

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (McReynolds)

On Wednesday, Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley shared on Instagram the news that the famous trio had returned to the stage following a lengthy refurbishment.

“A shout-out to our Imagineering team who lovingly restored these historic Audio-Animatronic figures from the ground up using the latest technology to replace components that were originally made by hand almost 50 years ago,” Riddley said in the post.

Imagineering team making final touches on José audio-animatronic at the Gran Fiesta Tour (thezachriddley/Instagram)

Riddley said the figures were first used in the original opening day Magic Kingdom attraction, Mickey Mouse Revue.

According to D23, a Disney fan website, the attraction was in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, from Oct. 1, 1971 until Sept. 14, 1980, when it was removed and the theater was used seasonally as the Fantasyland Theater. The fan website said a large cast of audio-animatronic Disney characters performed selections of the most memorable Disney songs, with the orchestra led by maestro Mickey Mouse.

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (thezachriddley/Instagram)

Riddley said when the attraction closed at Walt Disney World, the Caballeros went to Tokyo Disneyland as part of that park’s opening day attractions in 1983.

“Donald, Panchito and Jose performed abroad for 26 years until the Mickey Mouse Revue played its last show to make way for Mickey’s PhilharMagic. It was then that our design teams hatched the plan to bring these figures back home to Florida where their tour started, joining the Gran Fiesta Tour in 2015,” Riddley explained.

Use the form below to sign up for the In the Loop: Theme Park Scoops newsletter, sent every Friday morning.

About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.