Little Mermaid Animatronics Updated per New Movie

First look at updated Ariel animatronic on Little Mermaid ride

The Little Mermaid debuted in 1989 and continues to be a well-loved, classic movie. It’s an endearing story with an award-winning soundtrack. Because of this, Disney is making a live-action remake of the movie 34 years later. In fact, this remake will be released in theaters on May 26, 2023. Because of this new movie, Disney World and Disneyland are updating The Little Mermaid animatronics.

Little Mermaid animatronics being replaced at Disney World and Disneyland
Little Mermaid animatronics are being replaced at Disney World and Disneyland. Photo via Disney

Disney is always updating their attractions and theme parks to stay in touch with the times. For example, retheming Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to High School Musical as we reported here. Also, adding a new resort based on The Tipton Hotel. These changes are made to keep up with the current Disney consumer and appeal to a wider audience. But is that why Disney is updating the Ariel animatronic? Not really.

New Ariel Animatronic Coming to Disney World and Disneyland

Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid is The Little Mermaid ride at Disney World. At Disneyland, it’s The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. The rides are essentially the same, which is why Disney is updating the animatronics on both rides. According to Disney’s website, the ride is “filled with favorite characters and songs from the classic Disney film”. It’s a fun adventure through The Little Mermaid movie, accompanied by the amazing soundtrack from the movie.

First look at updated Ariel animatronic on Little Mermaid ride
A first look at the updated Ariel animatronic on the Little Mermaid ride

Currently, the Ariel animatronics are all based on the classic 1989 version of the movie that everyone knows and loves. In fact, if you ask anyone to describe Ariel they will say she has bright red hair, blue eyes, and a green fin, which is the classic Ariel. However, as we noted, a new movie is coming out. That movie is expected to change all of the perceptions people have of what Ariel looks like and who she is. This is due to diversity casting for the role.

Because of this drastic change in the appearance of Ariel, Disney is updating the animatronics of her on the rides. Ariel will now appear as the Halle Bailey version from the 2023 live-action movie. Any scenes where Ariel is an animatronic or even a video clip will be changed to reflect this new, 2023 version of Ariel as shown above. There are also rumors that Sebastian will be changed to reflect the new, extremely creepy version of the new live-action movie as well. However, that has not been confirmed yet.

Why is Disney Updating The Little Mermaid Animatronics?

This isn’t the first live-action remake of a Disney movie. We’ve seen it with The Lion King, Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, and more. However, none of the attractions at Disney World changed because of the new live-action remakes. So why is Disney only doing it with The Little Mermaid?

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Canceled, replaced by Qdoba
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is Canceled, and replaced by Qdoba

According to an internal source, Disney is changing the animatronics for two reasons. First off, to increase diversity in their parks. This is the typical Disney talking point of 2023. Everything they do is through a diversity lens, which makes it surprising that they canceled Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to replace it with a Qdoba as we reported here.

The other reason is speculation that The Little Mermaid live-action remake will tank at the box office. Disney remakes continue to struggle. Whether it’s because the characters look creepy or people want Disney to create new movies instead of just remaking classics that they love, they are struggling. There is already a gut feeling this movie will suffer at the box office. Disney is infusing this movie into their parks as soon as possible to increase marketing reach in an effort to get people excited about the movie.

What do you think of Disney updating the Ariel animatronic in their parks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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1 year ago

I think changing what has been is crazy. I’m all for diversity but create new princesses and/or stories to include diversity. So tired of this