If someone told you that there is nothing for younger kids to do in Epcot’s World Showcase, then they probably haven’t been on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito).
Based on the animated 1944 Disney film The Three Caballeros, this slow-moving boat ride is located in the back corner of Epcot’s Mexico pavilion (open during regular World Showcase hours). The Three Caballeros have a musical performance scheduled, but Donald Duck is missing. Throughout the boat ride, you see Donald Duck enjoying some of Mexico’s most famous sites, with Jose Carioca and Panchito searching for him a few steps behind.
After boarding your boat (which is similar to the boats used in It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean), you pass between the pavilion’s (indoor) prominent pyramid and the San Angel Inn Restaurante, which overlooks the water.
After that, you go through a tunnel, where you are welcomed by Jose Carioca and Panchito, and the hunt for Donald Duck begins. The ride scenes incorporate animation over live-action videos, as well as Audio-Animatronic dolls, very similar to It’s a Small World.
At the end of the roughly 8-minute ride, Donald Duck is finally reunited with the Caballeros for their show.
Last December these animatronics were added to the end of the ride, and they have a really neat history. They were originally introduced in 1971 as part of the Magic Kingdom’s long-gone Mickey Mouse Review attraction.
Tips: Even if the ride line looks long, it’s most likely not. The area has a very small queue, so it always looks longer than it is – and it always moves fast.
Also, if it’s raining while you are at Epcot, head to the Mexico pavilion. You can ride the Gran Fiesta Tour (multiple times), and the indoor pavilion also has shopping, La Cava del Tequila (go for the Avocado Margarita… trust me!), and the San Angel Inn (though you would probably need an Advanced Dining Reservation). Plus, when it’s raining, Donald Duck will meet indoors by the fountain instead of his spot outside, and you might catch a performance by Mariachi Cobre.
Pros: With it’s bright colors, upbeat music and everyone’s favorite #1 Duck, the Gran Fiesta Tour will keep little ones entertained. Plus the line always moves fast, and it’s indoors, making it a perfect ride for when it’s raining or to escape the midday heat.
Considerations: It’s a little on the dimly lit side at the beginning and when you enter the tunnel (but very soon Jose and Panchito pop up). Also boats sometimes back up at the end as they are unloading and will bump into one another. It’s a minor jolt – but still a jolt that could startle an unsuspecting child. Just give them a heads up.
Kids Rating: out of 5. Tater’s favorite ride is It’s a Small World, so the “Donald Duck boat ride” has similar appeal. Plus he’s a fan of Donald Duck… and balloons (there is a fiesta scene with a whole bunch of fake balloons). He also always mentions the (fake) fireworks that are at the end. He’s afraid of fireworks, but these are okay since they don’t make any noise.