Without a doubt she is the princess with the best hair, but what else can we expect from our favourite half fish-half teenager, Ariel at DisneyWorld?
Since The Little Mermaid swam into our lives in 1989, she has been a staple of the Disney magic. Her tale is a familiar one, stroppy teen defies father and sneaks off to meet a boy. But ends of course in tragedy when she visits the sea witch and she swaps her voice for legs, vital if she is going to chase him around on dry land, and it all goes wrong for her.
Leaving daddio to come and clear up the mess.
Along the way we meet no end of heartwarming characters, from Sebastian the Caribbean crab to the handsome Prince Eric. All good fairytales need a sinister baddie and Ursula does not disappoint. Her evil laugh is the sound of childhood nightmares.
Talking of sound, you can’t escape the number one pulling point of The Little Mermaid is the music. Composed by Alan Menken, it was the start of the Disney golden era seeing him going onto win an Oscar for Under The Sea. A soundtrack that takes you on the journey in a way that hadn’t been done before.
With that in mind, I wanted to share my favourite Little Mermaid experiences at Disneyworld, Florida.
Her official home is fantasyland within The Magic Kingdom.. In 2009, fantasyland was extended, and they included a brand new dark ride- Under the Sea- Journey of the little mermaid. The best part for me is Prince Eric's castle and the surrounding cliffs, you are instantly there on the beach being rescued by him. You enter through a cavern at low tide, the path is embedded with shells and part of the queue includes an interactive scavenger hunt with Scuttle.
You climb aboard a clam shell you turn backwards to dive under the sea, it’s very magical and my favourite part of the ride. Then follows a musical adventure touching on some of the keys scenes of the movie. Basic animatronics and glow in the dark effects are fun and lively. You see gadgets and gizmos aplenty before Ursula comes roaring in with her “poor unfortunate souls” complete with tentacles thrashing. The final scene is the wedding being watched over from the water by King Triton which always make me smile as we had a Ariel and Eric Wedding cake at our big day.
From there, you can meet Ariel in mermaid form at her grotto. We queued for around 15 minutes for this. The theming continues with shell handles and a cavern feel. You are ushered in quickly to come face to face with Ariel in her giant clam shell throne. She has a lovely tail and wears a flower in her hair. She took the time to interact with us, chatting animatedly and sharing stories about Flounder. The room is cute and it makes it a nice meet and greet experience.
Before I move onto the final fling, other places to spot our finned princess...
She’s currently in the Festival of Fantasy parade, which runs daily in Magic Kingdom . She’s in mermaid form, sitting up high In yet another clam shell brushing her hair with her dinglehopper surrounded by colourful under the sea characters.
You can also sometimes catch her at Akershus Royal Dining. This Princess storybook experience also features her pals Snow White, Cinderella, Bella and Aurora. We were lucky enough to catch her in our 2017 trip in human form. This is based over in Epcot although there’s no guarantee which three princesses you could get to meet.
If you head over to Disney Studios, she has a stage show, The Voyage of The Little Mermaid. Luminescent puppetry and live actors bring this mini show to life. If I’m honest it’s very short and it feels a little tired now. The use a laser show makes it feel dated but it sort of fits with a 90s vibe. It’s a cute show but it’s no where near top of my Ariel experiences.
You will see Ariel in both her mermaid and human form in the show, with a not too swift change over. She does sing live though and the bubbles add a fun effect.
And for one more bonus spot whilst your at the Studios...check out Fantasmic, obviously. (My number one Disney pick of all time) She and Eric feature in the finale, on the barge that is full to burst with characters.
On this trip we did a first! Hooray! Whilst there we were celebrating our children’s birthdays so we choose a new for us dining experience. The Bon Voyage Breakfast, is served daily at the Trattoria al Forno.
It’s an opportunity to meet some rare characters as you dine with Ariel, Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn. With a selection of themed pastries and bakes served to start, you then choose from a great menu with everything from steaks to omelettes. This is only available for breakfast but good tip- we booked for 11.50am and we made it a lunch date. We didn’t get seated til 12.20pm so it was perfect.
The restaurant is based at the Disney Boardwalk Hotel. We got free parking with our dining reservation so took the opportunity to then walk into Epcot for the rest of the afternoon.
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The interaction at the meal was one of the best we’ve had. Eric especially was so animated and the children were enchanted by him. Flynn was funny and cheeky. We all joined in with a parade around with the characters before we got to meet Ariel in human form in her green dress, my favourite. We had bought along a matching doll which was a nice touch.
There’s no denying her magical presence throughout Disneyworld, with so many opportunities to meet her, you won’t be disappointed. She really has become part of our world.