Published: January 10, 2009 at 3:56 PM
I have been a Disney Theme Park geek forever and was one of the fortunate few to live my dream and become a Disney Animator. My second project was The Little Mermaid and when it became a big success we were all on pins and needles waiting to see if our creation would actually be translated into a park ride (the ultimate mark of success!).
At the time the animation studio was across the street from WDI and (since we shared their commissary) we would wander around after lunch and look at all the cool stuff being build (okay... that's ANOTHER dream come true). We were blown away one day to turn a corner and see a full sized, 'dark-ride', mock-up of the "Kiss the Girl" sequence with the boat spinning around, fish jumping and everything. There actually wasn't any water in the ride of course, it just looked that way due to the use of 'light ring' ripples giving the illusion of a water level. The scene was bi-leveled and you had to go up some stairs to view it because the underwater portion of the scene doubled as an Ursula scene later in the ride (you could see Flotsam and Jetsom right under the "surface". It was beautiful. It had been created for a Michael Eisner visit the day before that we heard had gone very well. We were going to actually have a Little Mermaid ride after all! Except that it never happened - and I don't remember hearing a really good reason why.
Meanwhile it seemed that my colleagues and I watched Pixar ride after Pixar ride come to fruition... and still no ride from our 2D side of things. Sure we had lots of great parades and shows that we were proud of... but that's not the same as a ride to this Theme Park Geek. As much as I love Finding Nemo, and even enjoy the way they overlayed them onto the Living Seas pavilion at Epcot, I often wondered why they didn't use Ariel and friends for the overlay years earlier. Sure, Mermaid didn't make as much money as Nemo did in theaters perhaps, but those characters are easily as "classic" as Nemo and Friends.
Wow! I really sound like a griping parent, don't I! "That boy played three innings and my Bobby only played one!"
Oh, well... all this to say that I'm thrilled that The Little Mermaid is finely going to be a ride! I'll be interested if it's the same version that I saw almost 20 years ago. It's been a long time coming. And I can't wait to check it out... right after I ride Toy Story Mania!