Walt Disney World offers a new home for Ariel and her friends from “The Little Mermaid” in the Magic Kingdom.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid is a new attraction located in the park’s New Fantasyland expansion. The “dark ride” attraction takes guests into the story of the 1989 Disney animated movie, featuring scene of the film.
On the ride, guests are taken “under the sea” to experience the story of “The Little Mermaid.” During the approximately 5 1/2 minute ride, guests encounter a series of scenes depicting Ariel’s adventures using more than 180 Audio-Animatronics and the movie’s infectious music.
“It’s so exciting to bring these classic Disney characters to life,” said Chris Beatty, creative director for New Fantasyland in a press statement. “To be able to recreate Ariel’s world and invite our guests to Prince Eric’s Castle and then under the sea to meet Ariel and her friends is something that’s truly magical.”
Under the Sea is similar to The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Disney California Adventure Park in terms of the ride itself. Guests who visit both parks, however, will see the Magic Kingdom version features a more extensive queue with special touches all its own.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid starts with Prince Eric’s Castle
The interactive fun of the Under the Sea queue starts when guests arrive at the shoreline of Prince Eric’s Castle. The area features elaborate rock work and guests first encounter a shipwreck that recalls the film’s opening sequence.
Moving deeper into the grottoes and caverns, guests will see sea life, such as barnacles and starfish that guide them through the queue. Keep an eye out for the crabs that will play games of “trash” or “treasure” as part of the queue’s interactive elements.
In the attractions loading area, an 86-foot hand-painted mural depicts Ariel at dusk.
Scuttle, Ariel’s well-intentioned but often misinformed seagull friend, welcomes guests as they start their “under the sea” adventure. In his rambling way, Scuttle tells the story of Ariel’s decision to become part of the human world.
Under the Sea lets Disney guests be part of Ariel’s world
Guests board ride vehicles shaped like clamshells – an Omnimover system much like Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion and Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends – that continuously moves through the attraction.
Guests stay in these clamshells as they descend to the ocean floor where special effects seem to transport them past some of the movie’s most memorable scenes. First, guests visit Ariel’s grotto. There, they see Ariel with see her human treasures – the whozits, whatzits and thingamabobs she collects – as she sings “Part of Your World” to Flounder.
From there, guests are welcomed to their journey with the “Under the Sea” musical number. Dozens of familiar fish and fins – 129 different marine animals in total – show up for the party, including Sebastian the crab as the band’s conductor.
As with “The Little Mermaid,” the dark ride then turns a bit dark. Guests see Ursula’s lair, which recalls Ariel’s visit to the Sea Witch. There awaits Ursula with Flotsam and Jetsam, her electric sidekicks. The 7 1/2-feet tall and 12-feet wide Ursula unleashes her powerful voice, and her magic, in “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
Next, Under the Sea takes guests to the ocean surface and the human world because, after all, Ariel is now human. Ariel’s friends croon “Kiss the Girl,” encouraging Prince Eric to break the spell.
The scene is followed by a storm, as Ursula attempts to keep true love apart. But the ride concludes, as does the movie, with a happy ending – and some surprises that take guests beyond the film.
Created by Walt Disney Imagineering, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid features the characters from the animated movie. The attraction includes many the original voice talents – including Jodi Benson as Ariel and Pat Carroll as Ursula – as well as the songs of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Glen Keane, supervising animator and character designer for Ariel in the movie, served a creative consultant in the attraction’s development.
“Many times I’ve thought, ‘Why didn’t we have a Mermaid attraction sooner?’” Keane said. “But now I’m glad we didn’t. They’ve done this one so well.”
Visit Ariel’s Grotto to meet everyone’s favorite Disney mermaid
Another special touch is Ariel’s Grotto, the meet-and-greet area tucked into the rocks beyond Prince Eric’s Castle. Disney guests can continue their “under the sea” journey at Ariel’s Grotto.
Guests enter the enchanting story of “The Little Mermaid,” complete with characters and songs from the Academy Award-winning Disney animated motion picture, when they board Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.
“It’s so exciting to bring these classic Disney characters to life,” said Chris Beatty, creative director for New Fantasyland. “To be able to recreate Ariel’s world and invite our guests to Prince Eric’s Castle and then under the sea to meet Ariel and her friends is something that’s truly magical.”
Magic Kingdom offers a Disney FASTPASS option for Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid is part of New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Kungaloosh! Put on your set of ears and join me in stalking the Mouse. Read more of my Disney Travel Examiner articles or sign up for a free subscription.