Happy 30th To The Little Mermaid – 140 Fun Facts About the Film

November 17th is an anniversary that needs to be acknowledged. The film that saved the Walt Disney Animation Studio was released on this day back in 1989, exactly 30 years ago. The film featured a red-haired mermaid named Ariel. The Little Mermaid debuted too many people’s delight worldwide. Up until this point, the studio wasn’t doing so hot. There were even talks of shutting down the feature animation department because of the lack of profits.

That decade saw the release of The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), and Oliver & Company (1988). While The Black Cauldron saw only half of the money spent to make it, the other three just barely made a profit, only taking in $51 million, $25 million, and $43 million over each of their budgets.  The Little Mermaid profited over $144 million worldwide. This kickstarted the Renaissance Era for Disney animated films.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, here are over 140 fun facts about Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

  1. Originally, our favorite red-headed princess, the other being Cinderella who is strawberry blonde, was supposed to be blonde. After the 1984 release of their popular film Splash, Disney felt it would be too similar to Daryl Hannah’s mermaid form. Splash was produced by Touchstone Pictures; it is subsequently owned by Disney.
  2. This wasn’t the first time Disney fans laid eyes on Ariel. There was an attraction in Epcot called Cranium Command that opened on October 19, 1989. In the intro video, there was a scene when random items were poured into an adolescent boy’s mind. One of the things dumped in there besides a Snickers bar, C3-PO, R2-D2, an X-Wing Starfighter, and a swimsuit magazine was Ariel. One month before the release of The Little Mermaid on November 17, 1989, people could catch a glimpse of the redheaded mermaid. It starred Dana Carvey, Corey Burton, Bobcat Goldthwait, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealson, Charles Grodin, Kirk Wise, and George Wendt. This was also the attraction that was the inspiration for Inside Out (2015), which was written and directed by Pete Docter, an animator on Cranium Command.
  3. Ariel’s treasure cave includes the 1640 painting “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame by 17th-century artist Georges de La Tour.
  4. The story The Little Sea-Maid,” by Hans Christian Andersen, and later renamed “The Little Mermaid,” was slated by Walt Disney to be a “Silly Symphonies” However, another Andersen classic, The Ugly Duckling (1939), replaced it.
  5. Ariel is the only princess to come from a Hans Christian Anderson story. Elsa and Anna were in Frozen (2013), but it was so far from its original content that Elsa and Anna weren’t in the original story of The Snow Queen.
  6. Sebastian the Crab’s full name, according to the movie script, is Horatio Thelonius Ignatius Crustatious Sebastian.
  7. In Greek mythology, the “God of the Sea” is Poseidon. Triton, however, is one of his sons.
  8. Ariel and Hercules are cousins. Here is how;
  9. The name of the human woman that Ursula transforms herself into is Vanessa.
  10. A few of the backgrounds used during the “Kiss the Girl” scene are taken from The Rescuers (1977).
  11. There are several shots of Ariel, forlornly sitting on a rock, in a pose reminiscent of the “Little Mermaid” statue that sits in Copenhagen harbor. That statue was commissioned in 1909 and was sculpted by Edvard Erikson who had it completed by 1913. His face model was Ellen Price, a ballerina who became popular for her role of the Little Mermaid in The Little Mermaid ballet. Ellen refused to pose nude for Edvard, so his wife Eline Erikson posed for the body.
  12. In the original story, the mermaid has no name. Disney named her Ariel.
  13. It is said that this film is what brought Broadway into cartoons.
  14. When Scuttle (voiced by Buddy Hackett) is providing “vocal romantic stimulation” to Eric and Ariel while they are rowing in the lagoon, he is actually squawking his own version of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
  15. Jodi Benson sang “Part of Your World” in the dark to get that “under the sea” feeling.
  16. Part of Your World” was nearly cut from the film. Jeffery Katzenberg felt that it was “boring,” as well as going over the heads of the children watching. At a test screening, children seemed to lose interest during the song. It also didn’t have finished animation. Jeffery had said that one of the children up front dropped his popcorn and was more interested in picking it up than watching the movie. Glen Keane fought to keep that sequence in the film. The animation for it was completed and then retested with an audience who loved it.
  17. Even though the song is called “Part of Your World,” Ariel doesn’t actually sing those words. At the song’s completion, she sings “part of that world.”
  18. Before recording “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” Pat Carroll asked Howard Ashman to sing the song one more time to get it right. He obliged, and as he sang, he added little spoken ad-libs that Carroll then incorporated into her performance. These included Ursula saying “Pathetic” at the mer-couple she conjures up as an example, and the line “Life’s full of tough choices, innit?”
  19. At the beginning of “Kiss the Girl,” the reeds blowing in the wind are taken from The Old Mill (1937).
  20. The idea to give Ursula a pair of sneaky, identical pets as henchmen was inspired by Madame Medusa’s two alligators (also identical and with similar personality traits), Brutus and Nero, from The Rescuers (1977).
  21. Scheduling conflicts with Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) forced Patrick Stewart to turn down the role of King Triton. He also later turned down the roles of Jafar and Cogsworth.
  22. Carlotta, Eric’s maid at the castle who bathes Ariel and serves dinner, is wearing the same outfit from Cinderella (1950), except for the scarf on her head.Image result for carlotta little mermaid
  23. Jennifer Saunders auditioned for the role of Ursula but was turned down. In 2002, Steven Spielberg got hold of her audition recording and, after hearing it, insisted to the three directors of Shrek 2 (2004) that she be cast as the scheming Fairy Godmother.
  24. When Ariel is singing “Part of Your World,” a bust of Abraham Lincoln can be seen. It was placed there to pay homage to one of Walt’s favorite American icons. This is why Walt had the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction created for the World’s Fair, then later moved it to Main Street, U.S.A.
  25. The names of Flotsam and Jetsam have a meaning. Traditionally, flotsam and jetsam are words that describe goods of potential value that have been thrown into the ocean. There is a technical difference between the two: jetsam has been voluntarily cast into the sea (jettisoned) by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency; while flotsam describes goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck. In modern usage, flotsam also includes driftwood, logs, and other natural debris in oceans and waterways.
  26. To tell the difference between Flotsam and Jetsam isn’t an easy feat since they are almost identical. Except for the opposite glowing eye in each. Flotsam has a glowing left eye and Jetsam has a glowing right eye.
  27. Ursula was only animated with six tentacles, instead of eight tentacles like a real octopus. However, she technically has eight limbs if you count her two human arms.
  28. Several elements from the original Hans Christian Andersen story were kept in the movie:
  • Ariel being the youngest of many sisters
  • The secret white marble statue
  • Sea anemones along the entrance to Ursula’s cavern
  • Ariel asking what she’ll have left without her voice and the sea witch’s response
  1. The release of The Little Mermaid (1989) holds the record for the longest period of time between Disney “princess” movies. Its predecessor “princess” film 30 years before was Sleeping Beauty (1959).
  2. Ariel is the only princess in the official Disney Princess line-up to have had a baby.
  3. Ariel is the only princess that isn’t human. She isn’t an animal, either; she is a mythological entity.
  4. The only princess from Walt Disney Animation Studio to have biological siblings, until the release of Frozen (2013). Merida had three brothers, but Brave (2012) was made by Pixar.
  5. Ariel’s sisters’ names are Aquatta, Andrina, Arista, Adella, Alana, and Attina. One for each of the seven seas.
  6. This was Ben Wright’s, the voice of Grimsby, last film before he died. It was released in theaters four months after he died.
  7. The movie was re-released November 14, 1997, the week prior to the release of the Don Bluth film Anastasia (1997), which was released on the 21st and is sometimes mistaken for a Disney film. The re-release of The Little Mermaid and the release of Flubber (1997) the week after, greatly affected ticket sales for Anastasia.
  8. The movie was planned to be re-released as a 3D film on September 13, 2013. But, in January it was announced that wasn’t going to happen due to the lack of popularity with the other films that were re-released in 3D. The 3D movies released prior to that were: Beauty and the Beast (1991) on January 31, 2012, Finding Nemo (2003) on September 14, 2012, and Monsters, Inc. (2001) on January 18, 2013. The first re-released 3D film was The Lion King (1994) on Aug. 27, 2011, which grossed almost $178 million worldwide. The 3D Disney movie popularity dropped off after that.
  9. This film won Best Original Score and Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. The last time Walt Disney Pictures won an award was when Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) won for best visual effects.
  10. It had been 12 years since Disney was nominated for an Academy Award. The last time a Disney movie was even nominated was for the song “Someone’s Waiting For You” from The Rescuers (1977).
  11. “Under The Sea” won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
  12. This Oscar win would start a trend for the Best Original Score and Best Original Song to be won by the following four films. Beauty and the Beast (1991) with “Beauty and the Beast,” Aladdin (1992) with “A Whole New World,” The Lion King (1994) with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” and Pocahontas (1995) with “Colors of the Wind.”
  13. The “Part of Your World” song was referred to as the “I want” song by the songwriter Howard Ashman. It is a song that is generally set early on in the movie and it is sung by the main protagonist and it is used to express what that character wants. Howard started this trend with Ariel. Belle did it with “Belle,” Aladdin did it with “One Jump Ahead,” Simba did it with “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” “Out There” as sung by Quasimodo, Pocahontas sang it with “Just Around The River Bend,” Hercules with “Go The Distance,” “Strangers Like Me” with Tarzan, even though he didn’t sing it, Mulan with “Reflections,” Rapunzel sang “When Will My Life Begin?,” “Almost There” was sung by Tiana, Anna sang “For the First Time in Forever,” and “How Far I’ll Go” was sung by Moana.
  14. The intro for Sebastian entering at the beginning of the film was actually Alan Menken playing the kazoo.
  15. The pink dress Ariel wears to dinner is a mashup of four different dresses worn by the prior princesses. Her puffy sleeves were taken from Snow White’s sleeves, the color comes from Cinderella’s pink dress that the animals make for her, the full skirt and draping are from Cinderella’s ball gown, and the neckline and long sleeves come from Aurora’s ball gown.
  16. Ariel and her sisters have all the colors of the rainbow with their tails and tops; Attina is orange, Alana is violet, Aquata is blue, Arista is red, Adella is yellow, Andrina is indigo, and Ariel is green, but with a purple top.
  17. When Samuel E. Wright auditioned for the role of Sebastian, he went into his audition and “gave it all he got” from the stance of a Broadway singer. He had been doing broadway since 1971. He had just been nominated for a Tony Award in 1984 for Best Featured Actor for his performance in The Tap Dance Kid. After auditioning for the role, he didn’t hear back from Disney for a year and thought he blew it in the audition.
  18. The accent Sebastian has isn’t even Jamaican. Samuel E. Wright had said he did a Trinidadian accent because he didn’t know how to do a Jamaican one. Howard Ashman had spent time in Trinidad and liked the accent and decided to keep it.
  19. The line, “Hm. Teenagers. They think they know everything. You give them an inch, they swim all over you.” was improvised by Sebastian’s voice actor, Samuel E. Wright. He was brought back into the studio after all his recordings were done and they asked him to just improvise lines for three hours and this was one of the lines that made it into the final film.
  20. Sam Wright didn’t just voice Sebastian in this movie, he would also voice him in The Little Mermaid 2: Return To The Sea (2000), The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008), The Little Mermaid (1992-1994) TV series, Raw Toonage (1992), Disney’s House Of Mouse (2001-2003), and his guest appearances in Marsupilami (1993). There was a 30-minute home video release called Sebastian’s Caribbean Jamboree (1991) where Sebastian was composing a musical in Disney World with the help of his friend Sam Wright. Sam was on stage with a bunch of kids singing in Sebastian’s voice. There would be cutaways wherein Sam would interact with Sebastian. He also voiced Sebastian in three different Disney video games. Aside from Sebastian, Sam voiced Kron in Disney’s first original and computer-animated movie, Dinosaur (2000).
  21. This is the film that started the Renaissance Era for Disney. It saved Disney from its many box office failures from the “Dark Ages” of Disney, an age in which they thought the animation department of Disney was going to have to be shut down.
  22. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the instance of the priest marrying Vanessa to Eric in which he had what appeared to be an erection. This was not the case as from a different angle his knee can be clearly seen as the culprit. When Disney released the film on DVD, the scene was edited so there wouldn’t be any confusion at all. His knee was animated out and he was given a full-length robe.
  23. A similar situation arose with the design of the VHS clamshell box cover. One of the castle spires appeared to be phallic shaped to those who were subject to notice it. There was no recall of the VHS cases that had already been shipped out. Only the ones still in the warehouse. With the film’s following video releases, it was given a different cover design. The VHS cover wasn’t the first place in which the background castle was shown. It was on all the promotional posters that were around theaters almost a year before the movie even came out. A mother in a Bashas’ Grocery Store in Mesa, Arizona, was the one that first complained to Disney about the phallic representation she saw on the cover. That Bashas’ store removed the VHS tape from the shelf before returning them 24-hours later. The rest of the public didn’t even know about it until Entertainment Weekly ran a story on it. It has been said that the spire’s design wasn’t done intentionally. The fact that the artist had to rush to get it done in time for printing at 4:00 am was the culprit for the mishap. Fans seek out this rare box cover on sites like eBay.
  24. Ariel was purposefully made to stand out from her sisters. She is the only one with bright red hair, the only one with her hair down, her top doesn’t match her tail, and even though all the sister’s names also start with the letter “A,” they also all end with the letter ”A.” Ariel’s name doesn’t.
  25. In William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (1610), there are two characters that have the names Ariel and Sebastian. That’s just a coincidence.
  26. This was the first Disney animated film to be released to VHS just after its theatrical run. Other films had to wait longer.
  27. Voice actress Melissa Fahn had auditioned for the role of Ariel and was even called back several times. She now has over 180 acting credits to her name.
  28. At one point, Matthew Broderick was considered for the role of Eric. He would later voice adult Simba in The Lion King (2994).
  29. Prince Eric was named after Eric Larson, one of “Walt’s Nine Old Men,” who had passed away recently.
  30. The only time Ursula is called by the name Vanessa is during the wedding.
  31. This was the first Disney animated film to get a television series based on the movie. The setting of The Little Mermaid (1992-1994) is set before she meets Prince Eric.
  32. The songs “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea” were the only songs nominated for an Academy Award. Both were sung by Sam Wright, the voice of Sebastian.
  33. When Ursula creates the potion to turn her into Vanessa, she smashes a globe with a butterfly into her cauldron. There is a genus of butterfly is called a Vanessa and is of the brush-footed butterfly family, or the Nymphalidae. There are over 6,000 species in that group and can be found all over the planet.
  34. The live-action reimagining of this movie is set to be released in 2022. Unless you are reading this after, and it is already out. Actress/singer Halle Bailey is starring as Ariel, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Javier Bardem as King Triton.
  35. Before Jodi Benson landed the role in the movie, she was in the 1986 Broadway musical, Smile. Howard Ashman was the director, lyricist, and bookwriter for it. Because it ended so abruptly, Howard gave his cast a chance to audition for The Little Mermaid. Jodi Benson was the only one that landed a role.
  36. After The Little Mermaid, Jodi Benson would voice another lead female in a Hans Christian Andersen story. She was the voice of Thumbelina in the Don Bluth film Thumbelina (1994).
  37. Jodi Benson wasn’t just Ariel in the movie. She was also the voice for Vanessa, after all, she did have her voice. She is the only actress to voice a princess and a villain in the same movie.
  38. The shark that chases after Ariel and Flounder in the opening is named Glut. We don’t learn of his name until the animated series. Glut was originally going to have a larger part. In the end when Flounder is helping Ariel get to the ship to stop the wedding. Glut was going to interfere and Flounder was going to have to lead him away from Ariel as she climbed up onto the ship. The angry shark was going to get tangled on the barrel’s rope that Ariel was floating on. It was going to be revealed that it was a gunpowder barrel. It was going to then explode. The scene was to pay homage to the scene when Jaws blows up in the movie Jaws (1975).


  1. The opening scene with the “Fathom’s Below” musical number used to be longer with more dancing and in it the sailors explained to Eric about King Triton, his daughters, and his evil witch of a sister, Ursula. This little tidbit of information reveals to us that Ursula is actually Ariel’s aunt.
  2. A scene with Sebastian backstage talking with Ariel’s sisters revealed that he knew about Ariel’s absence before the performance. The sisters had extra dialogue and Sebastian referred to them by name, which would have been our first introduction to them before the concert.
  3. There was a nerdy spectacled mermaid named Harold who went to see Ursula after he couldn’t fulfill his end of a bargain with her. She gave him the strength to impress the ladies and he had to bring Ursula a water lily. Because he failed to do so, because they weren’t in season, and Ursula knew it, she turned him into one of her sea worms. This scene was cut for time. It was to give the audience an explanation as to what would happen if you didn’t follow up with your end of a bargain with Ursula.
  4. There was an extended scene with Sebastian lost in the castle. He takes a flying leap out a window to land in a fountain but misses and lands on the bricks. Max chases after him and Sebastian calls him a shark with fur while escaping, but then lands in the kitchen.
  5. In that same scene, one of the maids washing the clothes mentions that the girl is a princess, referring to the speechless Ariel.
  6. There was originally some extra dialog spoken by Sebastian to Ariel when she is going to bed in the castle.
  7. The whole ending with the death of Ursula was different. She never turned giant. She was just slightly larger than human size. Ursula tries to kill Eric and Ariel attacks her causing her to drop the trident. She manages to throw Ariel to a rock and knocks her out. Eric then attacks her, and she pins him under water to drown him. While he is trying to struggle free under water, Sebastian drags the trident to him. Ursula brings him up thinking that he is dead, but he throws the trident and her and kills her. Her shell necklace falls to the sea floor along with the broken trident. The shell opens and King Triton turns back into himself and at this point, Ariel’s voice returns to her.
  8. There was some extra dialogue between Ursula and Ariel before she sang the “Poor Unfortunate Souls” song. Ursula said she was banished because she was just trying to elevate her status. Ariel told her she was banished because she tried to overthrow her father. Ariel still ended up doing a deal with the sea witch anyway.


  1. Disney has had the rights to The Little Mermaid story since 1941. Because of WWII and the animator’s strike, the film ended up getting shelved in 1943 and would stay there for four decades.
  2. In the original story, the Little Mermaid sacrifices her life for the prince. She never does turn back into a mermaid and when she dies she turned into seafoam.
  3. Ron Clements came up with the idea to make The Little Mermaid after he saw the Hans Christian Andersen story in a book store. Ron pitched his two-page story idea to Disney, and they were a bit hesitant to do another movie with a mermaid as they had just finished Splash (1984) and were working on the sequel, Splash, Too (1988).
  4. This was the first theatrically-released Disney film that Alan Menken would write and score the songs for. He would later work on Beauty and the Beast (1991), Newsies (1992), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Home On the Range (2004), Enchanted (2007), Tangled (2010), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), and Aladdin (2019).
  5. The production team was able to dig up concept art from the Disney archives that were intended for the original project that Disney was going to make 50 years prior. Danish artist Kay Nielsen was the artist that worked on those concept sketches. He was the one that was the art director for the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Fantasia (1940). That’s the one with Chernabog. He received credit for his contribution to The Little Mermaid 32 after he died.
  6. The animators created the character of Ursula with the intention of having Bea Arthur provide the voice. By the time Arthur was approached, she was already well into the sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-1991) and declined the Disney offer.
  7. Originally, Sebastian was to have an English accent. It was lyricist/producer Howard Ashman who suggested he be Jamaican. This opened the door to calypso style numbers like “Under the Sea,” which won the Academy Award.
  8. Songwriting team Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were brought to the attention of Disney Animation Chair Jeffrey Katzenberg by longtime colleague (and future DreamWorks co-founder) David Geffen, who was producing the team’s off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors.
  9. While writing “Part of Your World,” Alan Menken and Howard Ashman discovered that the song shared contextual and rhythmic similarities with “Somewhere That’s Green,” a song from their earlier musical, Little Shop of Horrors (1986). Hence, leading the duo to humorously nickname “Part of Your World” as “Somewhere That’s Dry.”


  1. Because Ariel was given red hair instead of blonde, it was easier for animators to use various shades of red to have lighter or darker tones than it would be to do with blonde.
  2. This was the last Disney animated feature to use hand-painted cels an analog camera and film work.
  3. Because this was the last film to be hand-drawn, it was also the last movie to utilize the Xeroxing process created by animator Ub Iwerks for One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961).
  4. This was the last film to use the multiplane camera. All the following movies would use a computer to put the cels together. The multiplane camera was first created to work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). It was first used as a test run on the short The Old Mill (1937).
  5. When they first attempted to use the old multiplane camera, they found out it was too dilapidated to use because it was so old. So, they had to farm out the shots to another studio.
  6. One thousand different colors were used on 1,100 backgrounds. Over one million drawings were done in total.
  7. The inspiration for the design of Ariel was from the mermaids in Peter Pan (1953). They were animated by Freddie Moore. This is what has led people to believe that Ariel’s mom was the redhead on the rock in the Mermaid Lagoon. The same mermaid who said she wanted to drown Wendy.
  8. Extra fun fact, the red-haired mermaid in Peter Pan was voiced by Margaret Kerry. She was also the model for Tinker Bell and the red-haired mermaid.
  9. Before acting as the supervising animator of Ariel, Glen Keane got his start at Disney with the animation of Bernard and Penny in The Rescuers (1977) and in that same year the giant green dragon Elliott in the classic film Pete’s Dragon (1977). He would later be the supervising animator of Tod, Vixey, the bear, Copper, Badger, Porcupine, and Tod’s mother in The Fox and the Hound (1981), Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Sykes, Georgette, Fagin, and Jenny Foxworth in Oliver & Company (1988), Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Long John Silver, and Rapunzel in their respective films. In 1985, he was the character animator of Gurgi and Princess Eilonwy in the huge disappointment The Black Cauldron.
  10. Glen Keane is the son of comic artist Bil Keane, who drew The Family Circus comic strips from 1960-2011. Bil’s son Jeff, Glen’s younger brother, draws the comic strip now. It is the most published and well-known newspaper comic strip being printed in over 1,500 newspapers.
  11. Glen based the look of Ariel of television actress Alyssa Milano who was popularized at the time on the show Who’s The Boss? (1984-1992).
  12. It is said that in an interview, Gen stated that Ariel looked exactly like his wife, but with fins.
  13. Another first for recent years, live actors and actresses were filmed for reference material for the animators. Sherri Stoner acted out all of Ariel’s scenes. Sherri was part of a group from The Groundlings on Melrose Avenue in LA. The venue was used for improvisational and sketch comedy. Some other actors to come from The Groundlings are J.J. Abrams, Tyra Banks, Adam Corolla, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Dax Shepard, Will Farrell, Will Forte, Kathy Griffin, Phil Hartman, Lisa Kudrow, Phil LaMarr, Jon Lovitz, Melissa McCarthy, Michael McDonald, Pat Morita, Craig T. Nelson, Paul Reubens, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig to name a few. Daryl Hannah was also there, and she was also a mermaid for Disney in their movie Splash (1984).Image result for sherri stoner little mermaid gifImage result for sherri stoner little mermaid gifImage result for sherri stoner little mermaid gif
  14. Not all of Disney’s animators approved the use of live-action reference. Glen Keane, the co-supervising animator of Ariel, said in an interview with the Orange County Register that one artist quit the project rather than work with live-action reference.
  15. Not only was Sherri Stoner the model for Ariel, she was the model for Belle as well. Sherri was a writer and producer for shows like Tiny Toon Adventures (1990-1992) and Animaniacs (1993-1998). She was a co-writer of the Disney film My Favorite Martian (1999) and story editor for the Disney series The 7D (2014-2016). If you remember watching Animaniacs, she was the voice of Slappy Squirrel, the old squirrel that sounded like Penny Marshall.
  16. A lesser-known actor, Joshua Finkel, was brought in to act out the scenes for Prince Eric. Joshua had a background in musical theater and Broadway. He would later act in the Disney movie The Kid (2000) with Bruce Willis.
  17. This film made use of the most special effects since Fantasia (1940). It took 10 animators over a year to finish the storm sequence.
  18. The directors insisted that every one of the millions of bubbles should be hand-drawn, not Xeroxed. The sheer manpower for such an effort required Disney to farm out most of the bubble-drawing to Pacific Rim Productions, a China-based firm with production facilities in Beijing. They worked on other projects like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987–1996), An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990), Goof Troop (1992–1993), The Magic Voyage (1992), and Super Mario World (1991)
  19. Ariel’s lip lines were created with hand inking.
  20. To properly animate underwater flowing hair, the animators studied footage of astronaut Sally Ride while she was floating in space. She was the first American woman in space and the third woman in space. They also recorded footage of Sherri Stoner underwater in a swimming pool.
  21. To assist with all the animation that needed to be done, Disney animation opened a satellite studio in Florida at Disney-MGM Studios, now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This animation studio was created to animate the Roger Rabbit short Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990). After The Little Mermaid, the studio would animate Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Mulan (1998), and Lilo & Stitch (2002).
  22. Ariel was the first princess to be animated by Mark Henn. He would later animate, or supervise the animation of Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana. He is also known for his work on Basil, Oliver & Dodger, Bernard & Bianca (Rescuers Down Under), young Simba, and Winnie the Pooh & Christopher Robin in 2011.
  23. Andreas Deja was responsible for King Triton and Vanessa but is also known for his work on the Horned King, Roger Rabbit & Baby Herman, Gaston, Jafar, Scar, Hercules, Lilo, and Tigger in 2011.
  24. Ruben Aquino was responsible for the work on Ursula. He also worked on Francis in Oliver & Company (1988), Jake in The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Maurice, adult Simba, Chief Powhatan, Li Shang & Fa Li, and Pleakly & David in Lilo & Stitch (2002).
  25. During planning for the film, Ursula was not originally designed as a cecaelia. A cecaelia is a composite mythical being, combining the head, arms, and torso of a woman, and from the lower torso down, the tentacles of an octopus or squid as a form of mermaid or sea demon. It was thought that she would be another sea creature, such as a rockfish-like mermaid. The film’s animation director, Mike Peraza, saw a documentary about octopuses and decided that their multiple arms and overall imposing appearance would be perfect for the character they were creating. Pat Carroll, who was cast to voice Ursula, envisioned the character as “part Shakespearean actress, with all the flair, flamboyance, theatricality, and part used-car salesman with a touch of con artist.” Carroll, who is a contralto, purposefully deepened her voice for the role.
  26. Ursula was modeled after the drag performer and actress Divine.
  27. In the early stages, Ursula was to be based on Joan Collins’ outrageous character Alexis Carrington on the long-running television show Dynasty (1981-1989) because Howard Ashman was a fan of the show.
  28. Even though this movie was hand-drawn, the rainbow in the scene when Eric and Ariel are sailing away was done with computer graphics. Also, the scene when Ursula is bringing all the ships up from the bottom of the sea.
  29. The shot of Ariel reaching out through the skylight of her grotto was the last shot to be completed. It took four tries to get the optical effects just right.
  30. At one point, before deciding on a little red crab, it was planned that the character of Sebastian would be a turtle.
  31. Some of the look of Sebastian’s face was copied from his voice actor, Sam Wright.
  32. The stock sound “Castle Thunder” was used during the final battle against Ursula in the storm. The sound has been used in dozens of movies and television shows. It was originally a sound created for Frankenstein (1931) starring Boris Karloff. It is said that this is the last Disney animated film to use the stock sound.
  33. This movie was intended to be the first film to use CAPS, Computer Animation Production System, the digital process for coloring cells. It was developed by Pixar. The system wasn’t ready in time for this film to utilize the process with the exception of the background when Ariel is coming down the stairs in the palace, the sunken ships being stirred up by Ursula, and the ending scene with the ship sailing toward the rainbow. The following project, The Rescuers Down Under (1990) would be the first.
  34. The animators examined the animations from the underwater scene in Pinocchio (1940) for inspiration.
  35. The color of Ariel’s tail was mixed in the paint lab. The color was named “Ariel” in honor of her.
  36. They used green for her tail because on the color wheel the two colors of her hair and tail are complementary to each other.
  37. The opening scene had intentionally muted colors. The first time we see bright vibrant colors when we go under the sea.
  38. The scenes with Ariel first discovering her legs, Sebastian giving his speech about love to Ariel, and the scene when Triton is talking to Sebastian and giving Ariel legs while she was sitting on the rock were all added in or changed by Howard Ashman. Originally, Sebastian and Triton weren’t going to have dialogue in this scene. All the emotions of the scene were going to be conveyed with visuals.
  39. Sebastian was originally going to have a smaller role in the film. After the project was underway, he became a likable character and was given a larger part.
  40. Flounder wasn’t modeled after any specific type of fish. He was completely made of for the role. His name comes from a fish that lays flat along the seafloor with both eyes on top of its head.EASTER EGGS & HIDDEN MICKEYS
  41. In the opening scene when King Triton arrives at the arena, you can briefly see Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck in the crowd of sea-people as mermen when he passes over them. One mer-person upfront of the audience is wearing Mickey ears.
  42. Right before you see Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, you can see Kermit the Frog. He’s to the left of King Triton when he enters the palace in the opening of the movie.
  43. You can spot Henry Limpet from the Warner Brother’s film The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964) in the “Under the Sea” scene at the end of the musical number. The animators added him to pay homage to the late Disney animation director Vladimir “Bill” Tytla, whose last film was The Incredible Mr. Limpet. While directing and animating for Disney, he animated some of the most iconic characters of all time. Some of them included Stromboli, Yen Sid, Chernabog, Dumbo, and the popular dwarf Grumpy. He can also be seen in the same scene on The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure attraction in Disney’s California Adventure.
  44. There is a Hidden Mickey on the scroll that Ursula gets Ariel to sign. It is in the middle of the words when it pans over the scroll from top to bottom.
  45. When Eric is waiting for Ariel to arrive, one of the portraits is that of Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty (1959).
  46. During Eric’s alleged wedding to Vanessa, the King and Grand Duke from Cinderella (1950) both make appearances.
  47. There is a Hidden Mickey in the scene where the animals are trying to break up the wedding. It’s right as the seals are jumping onto the deck of the boat from the ocean. There is a woman with black hair in a red gown with her back to the camera. The shape of her hair clearly outlines a Mickey head until she turns sideways.


  48. People have said that Ariel’s wedding dress is designed after Princess Diana’s wedding dress from 1981 when she married Prince Charles. But her dress had a laced collar and poofy long sleeves whereas Ariel’s dress had a tight neckline and skin-tight sleeves, with the exception of the poofy shoulders.WHO DOES THAT VOICE
  49. Jodi Benson did the voice of Ariel and this was her first movie. She would voice Ariel in all three Little Mermaid movies, The Little Mermaid TV series (1992-1994), Sofia the First (2013-2018), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018). At the time she recorded the first Little Mermaid, she was about 27 years old. Jodi has done voices for other characters such as Tour Guide Barbie in Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010), Aquagirl in Batman Beyond (1999-2001), Jenna from Balto 2: Wolf Quest (2002), Lady from Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamps Adventure (2001), Princess Atta from A Bug’s Life (1998) the video game, Lastelle’s Mother in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), but the 2004 English dub, Thumbelina in Thumbelina (1994), and Weebo from the movie Flubber (1997). You can see her as Sam (the secretary) in the movie Enchanted (2007).
  50. When Ben Wright got the part of Grimsby, Prince Eric’s butler, the current Disney folks had no idea that he had been the voice of Roger in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). He had to tell them. He also voiced Rama in The Jungle Book (1967).
  51. As I had said earlier, Pat Carroll was the voice of Ursula. Pat returned to Disney to voice Ursula’s sister, Morgana, in the sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000). You can also hear her as Koo-Koo the gorilla in Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (1988-1990) and recently as Old Lady Crowley in Tangled: The Series (2017-present). In 1965, she was Prunella, one of Cinderella’s step-sisters in Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
  52. Pat Carroll wasn’t the first one hired to voice Ursula. Elaine Stritch was brought in to perform as Ursula, but her music style clashed with Howard Ashman’s style and so she was replaced.
  53. Pat Carroll had said that Tallulah Bankhead and Maurice Evans were the inspiration behind her Ursula voice.
  54. Roseanne Barr was considered for the role of Ursula.
  55. Jim Carrey auditioned for the role of Prince Eric.
  56. The role of Prince Eric was given to Christopher Daniel Barnes an actor known for his roles in Starman (1986-1987) and Day by Day (1988-1989). The Little Mermaid would be his first theatrically-released movie. In the 90s, he would play Greg Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) and A Very Brady Sequel (1996). If you were like me and grew up watching Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994-1998), you might recognize Christopher as the voice of Spider-Man. He would do voice work in several Spider-Man projects for the following three decades. Eric isn’t the only prince voice he has provided for Disney. He was the voice of The Prince in Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True (2001) and Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time (2007).
  57. At the time of recording, Christopher Daniel Barnes was only 17 years old.
  58. When Samuel E. Wright auditioned for the role of Sebastian, he didn’t know it was for a Caribbean crab. He was told Disney wanted a Sammy Davis Jr. type of a character.
  59. In 1998, The Lion King Musical won Best Musical at the Tony Awards. Sam Wright was nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his role of Mufasa.
  60. The Norwegian dubbing for Ariel was done by Froydis Armand and Sebastian was done by Helge Jordal. Both the Norwegian actors are married to each other.IN THE PARKS
  61. You can hop aboard a seashell omnimover system in The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure attraction in Disney’s California Adventure which opened in 2011. The identical attraction, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, opened in Magic Kingdom in 2012.
  62. As of 2019, there is a live show attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios called Voyage of the Little Mermaid. It is basically a stage musical.
  63. Not in the Disney parks, but you can see the Broadway musical of The Little Mermaid that started in 2007 and has been touring around the world ever since.



Thank you for reading my article. It spent every waking hour this past week writing it.

If you enjoyed it, you need to get a copy of my book that has over 3,700 fun facts in it about Disneyland and Disney Movies.


About the Author

Joshua Shaffer
I am a two time published author of Disneyland history and fun fact books. My second edition has over 3,700 fun facts in it about Disneyland and Disney movies. In my spare time, I work on my next book. I also design Disney Fantasy Pins. For a brief time, I was a co-host on the Magic Behind The Ears podcast. I am also the Public Relations Manager for Gina Rock, the longest flying Tinker Bell in Disneyland history. She flew across the skies for the nightly fireworks from 1983-2005. I had a booth at D23 in 2017 where I premiered my books 2nd edition. It was nicknamed "The Disney Bible" because it is 700 pages long. I basically stood from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm every day for 3 days straight just talking about Disney stuff. I love all things Disney. If you have any questions about Disneyland or Disney Movies feel free to contact me and I will try to answer all your questions. If you haven’t already picked up a copy of my book, you need to do so. www.DisneyGuy.org [email protected]

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