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The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid logo.svg
Creator Walt Disney Animation Studios
Ron Clements
John Musker
Owner The Walt Disney Company
Films and television
Films The Little Mermaid (1989)
Animated series The Little Mermaid (1992–94)
Television specials The Little Mermaid Live! (2019)
Theatrical presentations
Musicals The Little Mermaid (2007)
Video games
Original music
Theme park attractions

The Little Mermaid is a Disney media franchise. The success of the 1989 American animated feature film The Little Mermaid led to a direct-to-video sequel, a prequel film, a spin-off television series, a musical, several video games, theme park attractions, and other merchandise. A live action remake of the film is in development. The Little Mermaid paved the way for what would become the Disney Renaissance, with the original film becoming the first film of that era.

Animated films

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is the original film of the franchise. It was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, and was released to theaters on November 17, 1989 by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and produced by Musker and Howard Ashman. The film was a critical and commercial success. The Little Mermaid is the 28th Disney animated feature film and belongs to an era known as the Disney Renaissance. It is based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 fairy tale of the same name.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is a direct-to-video sequel to the first film. It was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on VHS in the United States on September 19, 2000. It was directed by Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith, and produced by Leslie Hough and David Lovegren. In 2006, the film was bundled together with the original film in the Region 2 release. The original DVD release has been discontinued. A special edition DVD with a deleted song, "Gonna Get My Wish", and a new game was released on December 16, 2008. Unlike its predecessor, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea received generally negative reviews from critics, with the criticism reserved for the film being a repetition of the first film.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning is a direct-to-video prequel to the first film. The film was released on Region 1 DVD in the United States on August 26, 2008, and on Region 2 DVD in Europe on September 22, 2008. It was directed by Peggy Holmes and produced by Kendra Halland. The film contains special features including deleted scenes, a production featurette hosted by the director, games and activities, and a featurette hosted by Sierra Boggess about the Broadway musical. The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning received mixed-to-negative reviews, with praise given to the animation quality, but the film's music and new antagonist, Marina Del Rey, being criticised for being inferior to those found in the original film.

Live-action films

In May 2016, Deadline Hollywood reported that Disney was in early development for a live-action adaptation of the film. Three months later, it was announced that Alan Menken would return as the film's composer and write new songs alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, who will also co-produce the movie with Marc Platt. In December 2018, Rob Marshall was officially hired as director for the film.

In June 2019, it was announced that Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, and Nora "Awkwafina" Lum were in talks to portray Ursula, Flounder, and a gender-swapped Scuttle, respectively. By July, Halle Bailey was cast in the starring role as Ariel. It was also announced that same month that Javier Bardem was in talks to play King Triton. In October, Daveed Diggs entered talks to voice Sebastian. The following month, Jonah Hauer-King was officially cast in the role of Prince Eric.

Principal photography was originally scheduled to begin in April 2020, but production on the film was temporarily halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming was expected to begin as early as July or August 2020. However, it was delayed yet again to November/early-December 2020 in order to accommodate Melissa McCarthy's production schedule for the Hulu miniseries, Nine Perfect Strangers. At the end of January 2021, filming had officially begun at Pinewood Studios in Iver, England.


The Little Mermaid TV series

Disney's The Little Mermaid is an animated television series featuring the adventures of Ariel as a mermaid prior to the events of the first film. This series is the first Disney television series to be spun off from a major animated film. The Little Mermaid premiered in the fall of 1992 with the animated prime time special called "A Whale of a Tale", then moved to Saturday mornings. This series originally appeared on CBS, with an original run from 1992 to 1994. It was later shown in reruns on The Disney Channel and Toon Disney. Some of the episodes contain musical segments, featuring original songs written for the series. The opening theme to the show is a combination of the songs "Part of Your World", "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl".

Shorts featuring Sebastian

A series of shorts starring Sebastian were aired as part of another Disney Saturday morning series for CBS, Marsupilami, which ran from 1993 to 1995.

The Little Mermaid Live!

On May 16, 2017, ABC announced that it planned to air The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live, on October 3, 2017, which would have featured a broadcast of the film with a similar concert format (aiming to appeal to the recent trend of live made-for-TV productions of Broadway musicals on television). However, on August 3, 2017, it was announced that the special had been dropped due to budget issues. On August 5, 2019, ABC announced that the project was revived and would air November 5 of that year with Auliʻi Cravalho, Queen Latifah and Shaggy starring as Ariel, Ursula and Sebastian, respectively. The cast also included John Stamos as Chef Louis, Amber Riley as Daughters of Triton Emcee and Graham Phillips as Prince Eric. The special featured music from both the film and the Tony Award-nominated Broadway adaptation and would be performed in front of a live audience with giant projection surface. The show was produced by Done+Dusted with director-executive producer Hamish Hamilton and executive producer Richard Kraft and is still expected to be ABC's first live musical. The air date was selected to allow the program to have advertising for the November 12, 2019 launch of Disney+ streaming service and to mark the film's 30th anniversary. Jodi Benson introduced the special.

Stage musical

A pre-Broadway stage version premiered in September 2007 in Denver, Colorado, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, with music by Alan Menken, new lyrics by Glenn Slater, and a book by Doug Wright. The musical began performances on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 3, 2007 and officially opened on January 10, 2008. The original cast featured Sierra Boggess as Ariel, Norm Lewis as King Triton, Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula, Eddie Korbich as Scuttle, Tituss Burgess as Sebastian, Sean Palmer as Prince Eric, Jonathan Freeman as Grimsby, Derrick Baskin as Jetsam, Tyler Maynard as Flotsam, Cody Hanford and J.J. Singleton as Flounder, and John Treacy Egan as Chef Louis. Notable replacements included Faith Prince as Ursula and Drew Seeley as Eric.

The show closed on Broadway August 30, 2009, after 685 performances and 50 previews.

Video games

There are several video games based on the films, and the characters have made appearances in other crossover video games.

The Little Mermaid video game

The Little Mermaid the video game was developed by Capcom for the NES and Game Boy, and published in 1991. It is a single player side-scrolling action game where the player controls Ariel on a quest to defeat Ursula. Ariel has already met Eric, and they plan to wed, but Ursula has taken control of the ocean. So Ariel (After explaining what's going on to Eric) becomes a mermaid once more and sets off to rescue the sea. The game takes place from a side view and Ariel (swimming most of the time, but hopping around on the land occasionally) can shoot bubbles to trap her foes and can then throw them at each other. She can also dig through sand to find treasure and pick up sea shells to break chests open with. The treasure she finds in the sand is usually just bonus points, but the treasure you find in chests will increase your bubble's power and range. The gameplay is similar to other Capcom games such as Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers and DuckTales in that Ariel shoots air bubbles from her tail that when they hit certain enemies, can be picked up and thrown at other enemies or bosses. Ariel can also collect icons scattered throughout the levels to restore health, gain extra lives, or increase the range/power of her air bubbles.

There are some differences between the NES and the Game Boy versions. When a stage begins, Ariel descends from the top of the screen to the recommended starting point in the NES version, but just starts out in the recommended position in the Game Boy version. The featured SFX are different in both versions. The start of the stage's BGM can be heard only once in the NES version; although the whole BGM can be repeated in the Game Boy version. The stage backgrounds were more restricted in the Game Boy version than in the NES version. When you lose a heart, the heart turns into a heart frame in the NES version, but disappears in the Game Boy version. The key scales of the Boss BGM are different in both versions. The BGM speed in the NES version is much faster than in the Game Boy version.

Ariel the Little Mermaid

Ariel the Little Mermaid is a video game published by Sega in 1992 for the Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Gear (a Sega Master System version was released by Tec Toy in Brazil). The game lets the player control either Ariel or King Triton to defeat Ursula. Rescuing requires the player to simply swim into the unfortunate little victims as they hang about at fixed places in the watery world; while fending off and dodging enemies like eels, clams, sharks, and several other sea meanies. Friends like Flounder and Sebastian can also be summoned for a little helping hand.

The Little Mermaid 2: Pinball Frenzy

The Little Mermaid 2: Pinball Frenzy is based on The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. It is a pinball video game developed by Left Field Productions and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Color handheld video game console. It was first released in North America, and was later released in PAL regions.

The Little Mermaid Pinball

The Little Mermaid Pinball is based on The Little Mermaid. It is a Windows pinball video game developed by Disney Online. It was released world wide in multiple languages, including English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

The Little Mermaid: Magic in Two Kingdoms

The Little Mermaid: Magic in Two Kingdoms, by Buena Vista Games, was released for the Game Boy Advance. A The Little Mermaid hand-held LCD game from Tiger Electronics was also released in 1993.

Disney's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Disney's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure was released on the Nintendo DS on October 2, 2006.

Kingdom Hearts series

Characters and the setting from the first film appear in Disney/Square's Kingdom Hearts series of video games. Ariel appears as a party member, while Ursula is the boss in the world of Atlantica and one of the members of Maleficent's inner circle. Other characters from the film also make appearances.

Ariel's Musical Surprise

Ariel's Musical Surprise, was released on iOS and published by Disney Mobile Studios on October 10, 2013.

The Little Mermaid: Undersea Treasures

The Little Mermaid: Undersea Treasures, a hidden object PC game by Microsoft Studios was released in a preview playable form on December 20, 2013, with plans for further game options in the future.

Other media

Several attractions based on The Little Mermaid have been released. Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea is a themed land made to look like the Palace of King Triton and features fanciful seashell-inspired architecture. It includes the meet-and-greet attraction Ariel's Grotto, as well as the parachute jump–style ride Jumpin' Jellyfish (also present in Disney California Adventure). King Triton's Carousel of the Sea is a Carousel at Disney California Adventure that uses sea horses, flying fish, whales, dolphins, sea lions, otters and garibaldi. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a live show attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida that features puppets and live actors. Other attractions based on the film include The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, a dark ride at Disney California Adventure in Paradise Pier and the Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland.

Ariel is part of the Disney Princess franchise, an extensive line of merchandise that includes dolls, sing-along videos, and a variety of other children's products, apparel, and even adhesive bandages. Ursula, on the other hand, is part of the official line-up of the Disney Villains franchise.

Many characters from the franchise appear in the Disney Channel series Disney's House of Mouse. Some of them also appear in the series' spin-off film Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse, and Ursula appears as one of the main villains in Mickey's House of Villains. The characters also appear at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meet and greet characters.

Ariel appears in Sofia the First: The Floating Palace, a television special that was aired as part of the series Sofia the First and released on Region 1 DVD on November 24, 2013.

Printed adaptations

Disney Comics released a four-issue "The Little Mermaid Limited Series" comic series and two issues of "Sebastian from The Little Mermaid" comics in 1992. Marvel Comics released its own title, "Disney's The Little Mermaid" in 1994, which ran for twelve issues. All the comics are prequels to the film, and feature Ariel still a mermaid living under the sea.

A series of twelve prequel novels were published in 1994, following the adventures of young Ariel living under the sea with her sisters and father. The titles are: "Green-Eyed Pearl" and "Nefazia Visits the Palace" by Suzanne Weyn; "Reflections of Arsulu" and "The Same Old Song" by Marilyn Kaye; "Arista's New Boyfriend" and "Ariel the Spy" by M. J. Carr; "King Triton, Beware!", "The Haunted Palace" and "The Boyfriend Mix-Up" by Katherine Applegate; "The Practical-Joke War" by Stephanie St. Pierre; "The Dolphins of Coral Cove" by K. S. Rodriguez; and "Alana's Secret Friend" by Jess Christopher. Also published in 1994 is "Tales from Under the Sea", an illustrated book containing 22 stories and poems about the characters from the film.

In 2009 Disney Press started a young adult novel series retelling various films of the animated Disney canon but set from the point of view of its villains. The novels are written by Serena Valentino, and the third entry in the series was Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch, which was released in July 2016.

Common elements

Cast and characters

Characters Films Television series Live-action film
The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea The Little Mermaid:
Ariel's Beginning
The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid
Season 1 Season 2 Season 3
1989 2000 2008 1992 1993 1994 0TBA
Princess Ariel Jodi Benson Halle Bailey
Sebastian Samuel E. Wright Daveed Diggs
King Triton Kenneth Mars Jim Cummings Kenneth Mars Javier Bardem
Flounder Jason Marin Cam Clarke Parker Goris Edan Gross Bradley Pierce Jacob Tremblay
Prince Eric Christopher Daniel Barnes Rob Paulsen Jeff Bennett Jeff Bennett Jonah Hauer-King
Ursula Pat Carroll Painting Pat Carroll Melissa McCarthy
Jodi Benson
(Vanessa voice)
Buddy Hackett Silent cameo Maurice LaMarche Awkwafina
Grimsby Ben Wright Kay E. Kuter Kay E. Kuter
Chef Louis René Auberjonois René Auberjonois
Carlotta Edie McClurg
Flotsam and Jetsam Paddi Edwards Paddi Edwards
Alana Kimmy Robertson Jennifer Hale Kimmy Robertson
Arista Grey DeLisle Mary Kay Bergman
Adella Silent cameo Tara Strong Sherry Lynn
Andrina Cathy Cavadini
Attina Caroline Vasicek Kari Wahlgren Kath Soucie
Aquata Grey DeLisle Mona Marshall
Seahorse Will Ryan Uncredited voice actor Charlie Adler
Princess Melody Tara Strong
Morgana Pat Carroll
Tip Max Casella
Dash Stephen Furst
Undertow Clancy Brown
Marina Del Ray Sally Field
Benjamin Jeff Bennett
Ray-Ray Kevin Michael Richardson
Ink Spot Rob Paulsen
Shelbow Jim Cummings
Swifty Rob Paulsen
Queen Athena Lorelei Hill Butters
Andrea Robinson
(singing voice)
Swordfish Guards Jeff Bennett
Urchin Danny Cooksey
Evil Manta Tim Curry
Moray Dave Coulier
Emperor Sharga Jim Cummings Jim Cummings
Spot Frank Welker
Lobster Mobster Joe Alaskey
Da Shrimp David Lander
Gabriella Character is mute, uses sign language
Ollie Whitby Hertford


Occupation Film
The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea The Little Mermaid:
Ariel's Beginning
The Little Mermaid
Director(s) Ron Clements
John Musker
Jim Kammerud
Brian Smith
Bill Speers
Peggy Holmes Rob Marshall
Producer(s) John Musker
Howard Ashman
Leslie Hough
David Lovegren
Kendra Halland Rob Marshall
John DeLuca
Marc Platt
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Writer(s) Ron Clements
John Musker
Elizabeth Anderson
Temple Mathews
Elise D'Haene
Eddie Guzelian
Jule Selbo
Jenny Wingfield
Composer(s) Alan Menken Danny Troob James Dooley Alan Menken
Editor(s) Mark Hester N/A John Royer Wyatt Smith
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