Saludos Amigos has one of the most unique concepts ever tried in animation that of the animated travelogue. At the time the film was made, the Latin American market was one of the largest fan audiences for characters like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Along with The Three Caballeros, Saludos Amigos shows Disney trying to tap directly into this market in some segments here, even the background lettering comes in Spanish, which suggests that Disney was thinking of the Latino market ahead of the English-speaking one. (Although the truth behind this was that the Disney artists tour of Latin America was funded by the U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs and the project made in a desire to recruit South America as an ally with the US against the Axis Powers in the War).
Saludos Amigos has clearly been conducted as an experimental exercise and as such it is somewhat hit and miss. As the travelogue it sets out to be, it is cursory, only visiting four Latin American locations Lake Titicaca, The Andes, Argentina and Rio de Janeiro and leaving the rest of the region untouched. For a feature film, it is surprisingly short only forty minutes in length and could easily have supported at least two or three more segments.
The first, third and fourth segments keep fairly much to the travelogue format but the second seems more of an original short. The first and third segments are the most consistent in tone, using familiar Disney characters in lively slapstick scenarios to demonstrate the features and culture of the various regions. The Portrait of Brasil segment, an impressionistic samba number, is the slightest.
However, the second segment is a pure delight where the Disney animators penchant for dewey-eyed anthropomorphism in the characterization of the baby plane is utterly gorgeous as we watch it struggling through storms with a mail bag tucked under its wing, coughing and spluttering as it runs out of fuel, going to school to learn reading and sky-writing and the like. This is a segment that one wishes had been much longer.