The original 1989 version of The Little Mermaid isn’t just an absolute classic Disney film, it’s actually a cultural touchstone, both for the Walt Disney Company and for the culture at large.
For starters, the original Little Mermaid film kicked off the Disney Renaissance as we know it, while simultaneously revitalizing the world’s interest in Disney Princess movies and musical theater as a genre (thank you, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman).
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Not only that, but this Disney Princess movie also coincided with the third wave of feminism, which began in the 1990s. Princess Ariel’s agency, defiance, and overall spunky personality were unlike anything audiences had seen when it came to Disney Princess movies. In fact, Ariel’s personality may have created a pattern we can still see today in Disney Princess movies.
In short, The Little Mermaid is, in our opinion, a bit of a national treasure.
So when a live-action version was announced, there were mixed reactions…more mixed reactions than usual.
There’s No Doubt About It, Reactions Were Mixed For Live-Action Little Mermaid
Some diehard fans were simply more excited for new Little Mermaid content at any cost. Others thought the original film was perfect as it was, and that it didn’t need to be updated or touched upon.
Others were excited to see a new version of Ariel (played by Halle Bailey) that little girls with darker skin tones could look up to and see themselves represented by.
In any case, fans of both Jodi Benson and Halle Bailey’s versions of the Disney Princess hate to see the two pitted against each other, especially when Jodi Benson quite literally passed the torch (or trident) to Halle Bailey.
While we would love to see both the animated and the live-action versions of the Disney film celebrated equally, it seems that Walt Disney World may have a different agenda up its sleeve…
You’ve Probably Seen The Little Mermaid All Over Walt Disney World, But That May Change…
If you’ve ever visited Walt Disney World and stayed on property, then you know that Disney Resort hotels have a special Disney Classics channel, which plays music videos from the very best Disney movies.
However, according to Inside the Magic, all traces of the original Little Mermaid film have been eradicated from this channel, replaced entirely with music videos from the new Little Mermaid film.
Want to See Even More Princess Ariel?
If you’re devastated by this erasure, you’re not alone. But the good news is that the classic version of the Little Mermaid is still very much present at Walt Disney World.
Guests visiting Magic Kingdom can meet Princess Ariel in her iconic Grotto, as well as experience the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction in the same exact spot. Not to mention, the classic version of Princess Ariel can still be seen during certain parades, character dining experiences, and nighttime spectaculars.