One of the most beloved Disney animated films of all time takes guests under the sea to explore the world with mermaids and follow one of the greatest love stories. The Little Mermaid is adored by so many that there are now two attractions based upon the film in Walt Disney World. With the addition of New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom Park, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid opened December 6, 2012, joining the attraction we will be focusing on this week.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid resides in the Animation Courtyard Theater in the Animation Courtyard section of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is based upon the 1989 animated film. The attraction opened on January 7, 1992, after replacing Here Come the Muppets, a live stage show that ran from May 25, 1990, through September 2, 1991, while Muppet Vision 3D was being constructed. Conceptualized by the Disney Creative Entertainment team, the 17 minute long attraction features a mix of animation, live action, puppets, black lights, lasers, water effects, and music from the original film.
The show runs about every half hour, and guests can consult a countdown clock located at the entrance to the queue to see when the next show will begin. While FastPass+ can be used, guests can enter right before the show starts; however, I recommend getting there a little early as the lobby of the theater is full of some amazing nautical details and props. The wait never feels long where there are great details to check out. There is also a Hidden Mickey to be found on a large framed series of maps which when glimpsed sideways form a classic Hidden Mickey.
Once guests move their way into the theater and take their seats, the real show begins with an animation of Prince Eric’s ship approaching through the rough sea waves. With a dramatic whoosh, guests are suddenly underwater with the help of some amazing laser projections above which simulate the natural movement of waves. After the title of the movie is shown in lasers, Sebastian appears with tons of fish friends all in puppet form under black lights to perform “Under the Sea.” It is definitely the top number of the performance and will leave you with the song stuck in your head all day!
A live Ariel then appears. She is in the middle of an argument with King Triton about going to the surface and then begins singing “Part of Your World” accompanied by animated clips from the film. Once the song is over, Flotsam and Jetsam appear creating a segue into Ursula’s grand appearance with the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Ariel is then shown losing her voice in the deal and a montage of animated clips from her time as a human play leading up to Ursula’s eventual defeat by Eric.
After the dramatic scene, the lights come up slowly, and we see Ariel perched on her rock watching a passed out Eric on the sand. King Triton realizes that Ariel truly loves Eric, and with a swish of his triton and a little bit of magic, guests get to watch Ariel rise into the air and magically become human. As this happens, Eric stirs and realizes that is has been Ariel he has been looking for all along. There is an appearance from Max the dog and a romantic kiss as the finale of the show.
From the special effects, to the amazing actors, to the characters and music that we all know and love from the animated film, Voyage of the Little Mermaid is on the of best live shows in all of Walt Disney World. If you’ve never seen it before, or it’s been awhile, I definitely recommend stopping by and becoming a part of that world on your next visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
(Photo from the author’s personal collection.)
What is your favorite part of Voyage of the Little Mermaid? Ever found the Hidden Mickey in the theater lobby? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.