The first brand new attraction since Toy Story: Midway Mania on Paradise Pier in 2008, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure continues the dark ride trend with this attraction. While not completely innovative in terms of ride vehicle technology, WDI has outdone themselves with these audio-animatronics here.
Rather than building the jaw-dropping figures as they have with Pirates and Mr. Lincoln, these characters look like the cartoons. Now, they do have some great pixar animatronics, but the animatronics in this ride are based upon a hand-drawn cell-animation style and they pull it off in spades.
We attended a soft-opening a week-or-so before the official opening day and were greeted by a short line. The first thing we noticed was how standard and uninspired the queue was. Just a back-and-forth just outside the ride. This could have come from some of the queues of Fantasyland but I don’t think the sea-life looking plant life between stantions reads as well as the poster art and wood carved railings of the “Pinnoccio” queue. We did notice some great detail in that the cement upon which you walk when in the queue is designed to look like sand with sea shells in it! This was a really nice touch and made us feel a little better about the ride ahead.
Upon entering the building, you are greeted by an impressively spansive mural depicting all of our favorite characters from the film. This is great looking and really harkins back to the Fantsyland dark rides. As your “shell-buggy” (maybe it will catch on?) approaches, you are whisked through a shipwreck and into the world of Ariel as narrated by none other than Scuttle! He starts to tell you about Ariel’s story as you start to go ‘under the sea’.
The ride’s biggest flaw is that’s the last time we see Scuttle until the end of the ride. Some of the biggest complaints about this ride are that it has no story and is just familiar scenes from the film. I argue that the scenes are great but there is enough down-time between them to have Scuttle guide us into the next scene. I suppose he wouldn’t possibly BE under the sea but don’t set it up that way and not follow through. There are plenty of times we are not under the sea.
I have no complaints about this ride beyond having Scuttle take us from scene to scene to tie it all together but it’s not that distracting to me, anyway. WDI really stepped up their game and this new tenchology they have created with the skin on these animatronics lends itself to the exciting possiblity for other classic Disney films withno rides like “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
I back it!