Today In Disney History ~ June 2nd
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (stylized The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) is a dark ride attraction based on the 1989 Disney animated film The Little Mermaid, located in Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure and in Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, where it is titled Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid (stylized Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid). The ride opened on June 3, 2011 at Disney California Adventure, and on December 6, 2012 at Magic Kingdom.
In the early-to-mid-1990s, Walt Disney Imagineering attempted to develop a Little Mermaid dark ride for Disneyland Paris and Magic Kingdom parks. Early plans for Tokyo DisneySea and Hong Kong Disneyland also included this ride. None of these versions were actually built, although a computer-generated ride-through animatic was included on the Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid in 2006.
Disney later went on to design and build a different version of the attraction for Disney California Adventure, as part of an effort to revitalize that park in the 2000s. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure opened on June 3, 2011 in an area of Paradise Pier formerly occupied by Golden Dreams.
In September 2009, Disney announced that Mickey’s Toontown Fair at the Magic Kingdom would be demolished to make room for an expansion of Fantasyland. One of the new elements would be a Little Mermaid dark ride, much like the one slated for construction in California. Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid opened on December 6, 2012.
On March 20, 2014, the attraction at Disney California Adventure closed for maintenance. It reopened May 10, 2014 with several enhancements; new sea creature figures were added throughout the ride, a view of King Triton’s castle was added, the “Under the Sea” scene was given a blacklight treatment, and the Ariel and Prince Eric figures’ sculpted hair was replaced with realistic hair in the “kiss the girl” and “finale” scenes.
At Disney California Adventure, the building is modeled after a 20th-century aquarium. The Palace of Fine Arts rotunda replica that served as an entrance for Golden Dreams was kept as the entrance for the new attraction. The queue passes beneath a series of canopies and into the building itself. The loading area features a large, hand-painted mural depicting the story’s major characters.
The Magic Kingdom attraction has a different exterior and queue, featuring Prince Eric’s castle and the surrounding cliffs. Guests enter through an underground cavern at low tide, and part of the queue includes an interactive scavenger hunt with Scuttle. The mural in the loading area is also substantially different from the one at Disney California Adventure.
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