Little Mermaid Ride Debuts at Disney California Adventure

Little Mermaid attraction uses original songs and more from the iconic movie By: Kenneth Shapiro
Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney's California Adventure // (c) 2011 Disney
Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney's California Adventure // (c) 2011 Disney

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The Sea Creature Chorus from The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney's California Adventure // (c) 2011 Disney

Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney's California Adventure // (c) 2011 Disney

Beginning June 3, visitors to Disney California Adventure theme park, part of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., will be welcomed on the first-ever ride based on Disney’s iconic film, “The Little Mermaid.” Called The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the attraction is located inside a new space on Paradise Pier and it features music and characters from the 1989 film.

The new attraction is a classic Disney “dark ride” where guests board a clamshell and feel like they are transported beneath the water. Once “under the sea,” guests will find themselves immersed in the classic story of “The Little Mermaid,” sharing Ariel’s adventure through sophisticated audio-animatronics technology, a beloved cast of characters and a musical score that includes original songs from the film, including “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl.” Glen Keane, supervising animator and character designer for Ariel in the film, was a creative consultant in the attraction’s development.

“If you take a still photo from the movie and hold it next to parts of this ride, they look practically identical. So kids who have seen the film once, twice or three hundred times will be right back in the world of the movie,” Lisa Girolami, Walt Disney imagineer and senior show producer for the ride, told TravelAge West in a recent interview.

“I’ve always loved the movie and hopefully that love comes through because I really care,” said Larry Nicoli, Walt Disney imagineer and principal designer of the ride. “These characters are real to me … they have personalities and they exist out there. So we’ve tried to stay true to that.”

Highlights of the animatronic ride include a visit to Ariel’s grotto; an undersea party with dozens of singing and instrument-playing underwater creatures; a 7½-foot tall and 12-foot wide Ursula, the sea witch; and a wedding party finale that was not in the original film.

The building housing The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a new landmark along Paradise Pier. Its Victorian Exposition-style exterior — including a statue of King Triton and relief carvings of frolicking mermaids (Ariel’s sisters) — was inspired by the pavilions found in the classic seaside amusement parks of the early 20th century. The ride loading area features an 86-foot, hand-painted mural depicting the characters from “The Little Mermaid.” By night, the building will be outlined in thousands of lights, serving as a gateway to Paradise Pier.

The Little Mermaid - Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a key component to an ongoing renovation of California Adventure. This renovation includes an entirely new section of the theme park -- based on the movie franchise “Cars” -- which is set to open in 2012.

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