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Walt Disney Imagineers Take ‘The Little Mermaid’ To New Depths

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Today, I’m happy to present our Disney Parks Blog readers with an update on the progress of the Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction, which is currently under construction as part of the Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom Park.

Rendering of Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid Attraction

In case you aren’t familiar, this new attraction will allow guests to journey to the ocean floor to accompany Ariel and her friends on their exciting – and daring – undersea adventures. To make this experience as magical as possible, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has been working hard to design advanced Audio-Animatronics figures and other special effects to enable families to truly become a part of Ariel’s world.

Construction of Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid Attraction

WDI has already begun laying the attraction’s internal ride track, which will whisk guests in an Omnimover clamshell vehicle through colorful scenes above and below the surface of the sea.

The expanded Fantasyland – and its many new offerings – are scheduled to open in phases beginning in late 2012.

TIP: To check out the progress being made on a similar attraction, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which is set to open June 3 at Disney California Adventure park, check out any of these earlier blog posts and videos:


  • I’m so excited to see this! I’ve already watched all the videos and read all the articles on the attraction in dca! Im definitely going to the park next year!

  • when do we expect the one in wdw to open..

  • I can not wait to see it finished!! 🙂

  • I realize this may be a bit too much to ask but does anyone have anything a bit more specific than “Late 2012”? Taking my girlfriend to WDW for the first time sometime in October of next year and I can’t help but wonder if this will be available yet.

  • I can NOT wait until my first trip to Disneyland and I can NOT wait to ride this attraction!!! I hope both will happen shortly 🙂 I just LOVE disney sooo much 🙂 amazing 🙂

  • Jennifer: in the artist’s rendering, there is a small sign on the lefthand side that reads “Ariel’s Grotto.” Is this a gift shop or a restaurant like the one at DLR?

  • Jennifer, thank you so much for this post. I hope it’s the first of many updates on the new Little Mermaid ride being built in WDW.

    Actually, while DLR’s Little Mermaid ride may open first, I believe the ride itself was developed in partnership between the Imagineers in DLR and WDW with the intent of the ride being built for both coasts, just at different times.

    Jennifer, I do have one question. It was my understanding that the Little Mermaid rides in DLR and WDW were going to be exactly the same in terms of the ride itself (the ride interior) and that the only difference in the two would be the ride exteriors. Is that not correct? Are the two rides going to have differences besides just their exteriors? Thanks.

    • To the best of my knowledge, that is the only difference planned at this point.

  • Hi! I have a question about the preview for the ride. A friend of mine got an email saying all pass holders were able to preview it starting on the 3rd however I never received it. Or is that only sent to random pass holders? I was hoping to preview that and Star Tours but I haven’t heard anything about either one. Thanks!

    • Here are the details you need: May 31 – June 1 during regular DCA park operating hours, all DLR Passholders may ride Little Mermaid by showing their valid Annual Passport at the entrance to the queue.

      -On May 31 and June 1 Passholders are also invited to Embarcadero Gifts (across from the entrance) to purchase both AP exclusive and General Mermaid and Goofy’s Sky School Merchandise.
      -Only Passholders will be allowed into Embarcadero Gifts
      -The location opens to Day Guests beginning June 3
      -May 31 and June 1 are not blockout dates for any pass types
      -This is not a sweepstakes and all interested valid Annual Passholders may attend
      -This is not being positioned as “exclusive” but rather as a special opportunity for Passholders to be among the first to ride the attraction

      Club 33 Member are also welcome to attend this preview by showing their Membership Card at the queue entrance
      -Club members have all the benefits and entitlements of Premium Passholders
      -They did not receive the attached email. Jeannie Villarreal manages all Club communication
      -The Attractions team is prepared to admit Club members who show their card

      -No non-Passholder friends, family, or other Guests will be allowed on the attraction (other than Club members)

      -Preview opportunity is subject to long waits and possible unexpected closures

      -Passholders may re-ride as many times as they like (though the queue may be long)

      -Guests with disabilities will be accommodated just as they will be when the attraction officially opens

      -Passholders delinquent on their contract payments must settle the unpaid amount before entering DCA (e.g. no change to the way this is handled on any other day)

  • Krista–
    I do not think that WDW’s building is necessarily “better”. Its just has a different theme. The Prince Eric castle facade would NOT have fit in Paradise Pier.

    I think that the Little Mermaid building in Paradise Pier looks great. Does anyone agree?

  • So nice that DLR is getting Ariel first, since we always get things last but it seems WDW get a better outside :(. Oh well i’m happy either way!

    • There are great things about both WDW and DLR. If there’s one thing at DLR I’m jealous of it’s the World of Color night-time show. I can’t wait to see that on my next trip! I wish we had that here.

  • I am so excited about the new fantasyland expansion.. thats whats so great about disney its ever evoling changing more incredible with each day. we have been to both WDW and WDL and each park is wonderful each in its own way.. my family and I go to both parks rotating each year..keep up the excellent work disney.. thanks for the love and the lifetime of memories for me and my family!!!

  • Thank you for posting this! I love the updates on Fantasyland and can’t wait to see it all for myself in 2013! Keep the updates coming!

  • Also, since Animal Kingdom has so many attractions with different land animals “The Seas” at Epcot should really expand and become more like Sea World to compete with them. That is about the only area of Disney World that I think is not living up to its potential. It could be SO much better than it is.”The Land” could add a learning center where families are taught how start compost piles, recycling centers, grow food better & greener, better products to use, etc in their homes. It is kind of lacking in interest too & that would be a neat way for education, family involvement, & help with Disney Channel’s environmental push.

  • I saw that there is an attraction for Snow White, Ariel, & Belle. Is there going to be one for Cinderella & Sleeping Beauty? It seems kind of stupid to neglect the two most well known princesses. I understand that Cinderella has a castle, but no real attraction. You just walk through a tunnel.

    • Disney princesses will receive a new home as part of the Fantasyland expansion called Princess Fairytale Hall. This new building will be themed as an elegant royal court and will give guests the opportunity to meet several princesses – Sleeping Beauty, Tiana, etc.

  • This is exactly what I love about Disney… they’re always thinking of new ways to stimulate our senses! My mom and I made a pact to visit WDW every year, as long as we have health. We even have a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas scheduled for May of 2012. Thank you, Disney, for such wonderful memories. Knowing we have trips scheduled gives us that burst of energy to get through those long, cold, wintery nights! See you soon…

  • Alodine–
    I don’t think it necessarily has to do with space. (Although DCA’s ride is in the spot of the former Golden Dreams theater.) I think it has more to do with the fact that the ride is in Paradise Pier, and Prince Eric’s Castle would definitely NOT fit in.

    I think that ride building at Disney California Adventure is beautiful. Its inspired by the Dragon Gorge Coaster that existed at Venice Boardwalk, and fits in perfectly with the rest of Paradise Pier.

  • I’m just jealous that WDW has lots of space compared to DCA. I am thankful for DCA’s version but I just wish I could see something like this there.

  • Finally, Disney World’s fantasyland is getting some help. Will Disney World’s Ariel ride be any different than Disneyland?

    • It will be very similar. They’re doing tons of work in Fantasyland at Walt Disney World right now. They’ve got a lot of exciting things in the works.

  • I cannot wait to see Eric’s castle come to life!

  • Ha Ha, DLR gets Arial First!

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