6 Things You May Not Know About the Three Caballeros

1) Walt Disney’s South American Visit

The origins of The Three Caballeros go back to the outbreak of World War II, which shut down Disney’s European market, resulting in a great loss of revenue. At the same time, Walt Disney was asked by the U.S. government to undertake a goodwill tour of South America. He saw this as an opportunity to focus on artistic research, specifically to learn about South American culture and to reflect that in his subsequent productions. The trip resulted in the production of two feature-length package films, Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.
The Three Caballeros was released in the United States on February 3, 1945. The film stars Donald Duck, who is joined by his old friend José Carioca from Brazil (who audiences first saw in Saludos Amigos). The pair would soon befriend a pistol-packing rooster from Mexico named Panchito Pistoles. (So yes, that means in EPCOT’s Gran Fiesta Tour, only one of the characters is actually from Mexico!)



2) A Grand Finale for a Gran Fiesta

Speaking of the Gran Fiesta Tour, fans of the original version of the attraction will recall the animated sequence of Donald, José, and Panchito performing their signature song on the stage in the final scene. On December 4, 2015, the animation was replaced by Animatronic figures of the Three Caballeros, much to everyone’s delight. But where did they come from? Were they specially made for the attraction? Alas, no. It turns out that the figures were repurposed from the old Mickey Mouse Revue show that once took place in the Magic Kingdom (home now to Mickey’s PhilharMagic, where Donald finds himself in even more trouble…but that’s a tale for another time).



3) Happy Birthday Donald!

According to the lyrics of “The Three Caballeros,” Donald Duck’s birthday is Friday the 13th (though the song doesn’t say which month):
“The Three Caballeros
Forever we’ll stay, Oh!
Felicitations to Donald Duck…
on his birthday, Friday the 13th
from his friends in Latin America.”



4) Let’s Try That Again

However, Donald Duck fans will immediately notice something is wrong here. Donald’s birthday is officially June 9, signifying the day that Donald made his first on-screen appearance in the 1934 short The Wise Little Hen. Why the difference? Maybe he just had some bad luck on his South American adventures.



5) Panchito and…Clara?

Panchito made his first appearance in a self-titled comic released in 1943, in which he met and fell for Clara Cluck. He lives in Mexico and rides on a horse called Señor Martinez. In 1944, Panchito starred in a year-long Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip series.



6) Hope You Brought a Big Autograph Book

Be careful when you ask for his autograph! According to the comics, Panchito’s full name is Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III. Thankfully for Donald and José, Panchito never introduces himself that way, and indeed, his full name is never spoken throughout the film. In fact, he is only identified as Panchito in the opening credits. But at least we now know his proper name, right? Well, not so fast; that’s actually not part of his name! What happened? For the answer, we need to go to the House of Mouse song “My Name is Panchito.” There was a misconception that Panchito said “the third” at the end of his name during the last part of the song. What he actually said, though, was, “That’s me!” which he uttered immediately after singing his full name. To many people, it sure sounded like “The third!” and the slip was carried over to both Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures and Legend of the Three Caballeros over a decade later.


You can find even more fun facts about The Three Caballeros in the Spring issue of Celebrations Magazine! Find out more and subscribe by clicking here!

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