June 2011 – present
Imagineers conceptualized Little Mermaid dark rides for several of the parks worldwide, but none of the plans ever panned out. Disneyland didn’t really have space for Ariel and friends, but when California Adventure underwent its major expansion and renovation in the mid 2000’s, Imagineers finally found their opportunity to bring The Little Mermaid into the parks. The building once occupied by the Golden Dreams show was completely redone to resemble a 20th century aquarium, and in 2011, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure finally opened in California Adventure.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Ride Duration – 6:20
The Little Mermaid dark ride begins with an introduction from Scuttle, who invites you to listen in as he tells the tale of everyone’s favorite mermaid. Riders, seated in clam shells, descend into the ocean and follow Ariel as she proudly shows off her collection of treasures from the shore. Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian lead visitors all around Triton’s Kingdom, and eventually to Ursula’s Grotto. Helpless riders watch as Ursula takes Ariel’s voice, and then follow her as she grows legs and ventures onto the land. After a romantic boat ride with Prince Eric, Ariel fights off Ursula, regains her voice, and invites riders to join in her wedding celebration. The ride ends and guests depart from their clam shells, and Scuttle reminds them to come back again soon.
MY RATING: ★★★★★
This is one of the best dark rides at the Disneyland Resort, and it definitely has the best music. Each room winds around quite a bit, giving you a chance to soak in a lot of detail and hear large portions of your favorite songs. I also really appreciate the beginning of this ride; with lights and bubble effects, you feel like you’re actually going underwater. It’s a really simple but really cool visual trick, and it definitely sets the mood for the rest of your trip under the sea.
Because this ride uses a moving platform like the Haunted Mansion, it loads very quickly. With that in mind, the Little Mermaid almost never has a long line. I visit this ride when I’m waiting between fast passes, or if I just ate and want to digest a little before hitting a big ride again, but there’s really no bad time to go. Work Ariel into your touring plan wherever convenient, and you should have no problem getting on quickly.
The Little Mermaid is the longest dark ride in the park, running over 6 minutes.
Composer Danny Troob wrote a medley for the loading area based on Alan Menken’s original compositions for the 1989 film.
The only other park with a Little Mermaid dark ride is in the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The exterior of this ride is much cooler (in my opinion) because it’s Prince Eric’s castle!
In 2014, The Little Mermaid underwent its first major renovation. Imagineers added many more undersea creatures to prominent scenes, improved special effects and lighting, and gave Ariel “real” hair for the land scenes.