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Review of The Little Mermaid Ride at Disneyland Resort
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
“The Little Mermaid Ride isn’t working,” said one of the two Disney cast members guarding the guarding the stanchioned entrance.
I was still hoping for an explanation. But both of them added nothing to their annoyed expressions.
“When will it be ready?”
“We don’t know,” said the other before looking away.
The theme park used to be a place where the attendants were all happy, or at least, helpful. My partner and I were there to celebrate my birthday and this was one of the new rides we hadn’t ridden yet.
“Check later.” The first cast member said before looking away.
Their petulance could be blamed on frustration with a ride that wasn’t functioning as it should on a fairly crowded October morning.
Still, Disney himself would have fired them for their attitudes.
We did keep checking throughout the day since we were spending the whole morning at the California Adventure part of the Disneyland. Eventually, we encountered two different attendants who were overly joyful in welcoming us into a Victorian building reminiscent of San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. The entryway floor was covered with mosaics and ornate globular lamps led us into the loading area.
We grabbed one of the pastel-colored clamshells floating by a mural of scenes from the movie. It entered the rear of an old-fashioned warship until we faced a talking seagull promising to relate the story of the Little Mermaid. We then “descended” into a flurry of bubbles until we entered the heroine’s undersea kingdom.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll recognize the main characters as they sing and dance the highlights. If you haven’t, the colorful animatronics and the Menken/Ashman soundtrack will amuse and delight. The centerpiece is the calypso-tinged “Under the Sea,” which seems to have as many performing fishes, crabs, octopi, eels and seahorses as in the movie.
Acting as a counterpoint almost immediately afterward is “Poor Unfortunate Souls” rendered with gleeful evil by the multi-tentacled Ursula over a smoky crystal ball with a live feed to Ariel’s and the Prince’s life. As the villainess, she portends evil that is fully realized in the film but only hinted at during the ride. Those who haven’t seen the film may be puzzled by her unfulfilled malevolence.
Your shell eventually rises to the surface again so you can witness the couple live happily ever after with the blessings of Papa Neptune and all the undersea denizens. Strangely enough, Ursula’s shadow haunts the background of this occasion even though I believe she was killed in the original film. Perhaps they’re planning on bringing her back in a sequel?
While lacking any thrills and spills, this ride is a wonderful five-minute journey into another world and a refreshing escape from the California heat and crowds. The animated characters are first rate and the soundtrack was good enough to earn the Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, “Under the Sea.” You can bring the little ones on board because there are no height restrictions. But be aware that most of the ride is in the dark though I didn’t here any screams or weeping from the many kids brought in.