7 Facts about Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid

littlemermaid disney
littlemermaid disney

The Little Mermaid

It has been 30 years since The Little Mermaid was released and set Disney back on its theatrical release track. It was followed by an animated series, a prequel (The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning) and a sequel (The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea). There is renewed excitement for fans with the casting of the new live-action adaption, as well as a live version featuring our Moana favorite Auli’i Cravalho! With all the news coming out about one of the most treasured films in Disney history, here are some fun facts about our favorite mermaid movie!

  1. A Blonde Ariel?
    • When The Little Mermaid was being developed, According to an interview with Jodi Benson in Entertainment Weekly, the Disney legend recalled seeing sketches in which Ariel had blonde hair and similarly drawn in the Peter Pan. Due to the release and success of “Splash” featuring blonde mermaids, what a better way to differentiate a one of a kind princess than with a bold redhead.
  2. A Golden Girl Sea Witch
    • Mentioned in The Little Mermaid’s Walt Disney Record’s Legacy Collection, Howard Ashman wanted Ursula to be played by a Joan Collins type. Jon Musker and Ron Clements pictured Bea Arthur as the famous sea witch. When approached,  Bea Arthurs’ agent was horrified by the idea that her client would be cast as a witch and rejected the role.
  3. The Role of King — for a Captain?
    • Most of us cannot picture King Triton without the booming voice of Kenneth Mars – but he was not the only one set to play Ariel’s father. Sir Patrick Stewart was approached for the role but could not due to conflicts in his Star Trek schedule.
  4. Hercules… you mean HUNKules
    • King Triton – son of the sea god, Neptune – is Ariel’s father. Neptune and Zeus (Hercules’ father) are brothers. Meaning that Hercules and Ariel are in fact, related! Leaving an open opportunity for a future film or cameo. *hint hint, Disney*
  5. Pixar Partnerships
    • The Little Mermaid is such a groundbreaking film in so many respects but it is also the first movie that Disney and Pixar collaborated with. Pixar used CAPS (Computer Animated Production Systems) which would remove the need for cell animation.
  6. Stylish Differences
    • If you look at Ariel – there are a lot of differences between her and her sisters. They’re on time, none of them have her red hair, and Ariel doesn’t seem to have the same taste in clamshells. All of her sisters’ tails match their shells! Ariel is the only one that shatters their style expectations and pairs purple shells to go with her tail.
  7. A Divine Ode
    • In the book, “From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture” – it is mentioned that directing animator, Ruben Acquine, modeled Ursula after the famous drag queen. Though Divine did not live to see her theatrical adaptation debut, her name is still mentioned to this day as a drag legend and sea witch inspiration.

Some of these fun facts are well known to every Little Mermaid fan, but hopefully, you’ve seen something here you may not have known before! With the upcoming anniversary, we hope you have time to sit down with a bowl of popcorn and maybe comb your hair with a dinglehopper as you watch The Little Mermaid for the billionth time. After all, who wouldn’t want to be part of her world?

7 Facts about Walt Disney's The Little Mermaid 1

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Danielle H