DIsney's audio-animatronics are incredibly complex pieces of machinery that can do some pretty amazing things. Some of the newest versions of the technology have allowed characters to dance, walk freely, or even fly through the air. But you can't have tech like that without seeing it break down now and then. That's what happened at Epcot to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros earlier this year. The ride lost one Caballero in early January, before losing all three by the end of the month, but now the band is back together.
For the last several months the finale of the Gran Fiesta Tour has been represented in about the most low tech way possible, with cardboard cutouts of Donald Duck, Panchito Pistoles, and José Carioca standing in where fully functional animatronic characters once stood. But overnight, the Three Caballeros were returned to the end of the ride, after all three received a major tech overhaul. Walt Disney Imagineer Zach Riddley posted about the update and the history of these particular figures.
In early January the Donald Duck animatronic ceased functioning, and was pulled from the ride. For a couple of weeks a small plant stood in for him while the other two characters continued to do their thing. However, by the end of January all three were pulled and replaced by static images. That's what guests continued to see through yesterday. Those visiting the ride this morning however, were greeted by the animatronics once again.
It's great to see these three back where they belong, and the fact that it took about four months to get them back has now been explained by the fact that Walt Disney Imagineering wasn't simply fixing one broken animatronic, but completely overhauling all three. The post talks about the history of these particular animatronics, that were build along with Magic Kingdom 50 years ago, but have actually spent time as part of multiple shows in multiple parks around the world. With that sort of history, it's great to see them restored.
Seeing them back also indicates a renewed commitment to the attraction. Many felt that seeing the cheap and dirty way the animatronics were replaced, and the fact that they were gone for so long, showed a lack of desire by Walt Disney World to invest in the ride. There have been rumors that Gran Fiesta Tour, which has been running in its current incarnation since 2007, could be line to get replaced, possibly with a new attraction based on Pixar's Coco.
While a new ride is still a possibility, that update could still be down the line. And considering that these three animatronics have traveled the world, even if they end up getting replaced sooner rather than later, it doesn't mean we've seen the last of them. And thus, spending the time and money on the upgrade was probably worthwhile either way.