Could Race Blind Casting Save ‘Voyage of the Little Mermaid’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

performers from the voyage of the little mermaid show and halle baileys ariel

Is Walt Disney World planning to bring Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a popular live-show performance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, back?

Previously, Disney Dining reported on the permanent closure of the show, referencing evidence such as the show’s removal from the Disney Resort’s entertainment listings and the sale of puppets used in the performance, including the 12-foot-tall Ursula. Indeed, it seemed that this Little Mermaid’s voyage had truly come to an end.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney

Credit: Disney

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However, according to some reports, Walt Disney World previously confirmed the show would return this year as part of its 50th-anniversary celebration. Furthermore, Disney Parks Live Entertainment recently announced a casting call for character performers resembling Halle Bailey’s Ariel in the upcoming live-action version of the classic film.

Presumably, this means Disney intends to introduce Ariel’s new design, which has subtle changes in costume, as well as giving Ariel red-colored locs, a protective hairstyle worn by Bailey herself. Of course, it also likely means that for the first time, Black performers will be able to embody the Disney Princess within the Walt Disney World Resort.

The Little Mermaid

Credit: Disney

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Certainly, it seems like Disney has plans to invest in the 2023 movie, directed by Rob Marshall and with new original soundtrack additions from composers Alan Menken and Lin-Manual-Miranda, long-term. In fact, because the composer duo has announced intentions to write additional songs for the film, which will apparently adapt some of the storyline and character personalities like Prince Eric, it would be easy for Disney to bring this semi-new plot to a live stage setting.

The original Voyage of the Little Mermaid opened in 1992 within the Disney Park’s Animation Courtyard Theater. Spanning a 14-minute runtime, the show was set in an underwater grotto and featured live actors performing popular songs from Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) like “Under The Sea”, “Part of Your World”, and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” In addition, Guests experienced a pre-show centered around in-universe artifacts like King Triton’s famous trident, and where Disney could place real props from the live-action film on display, something which would help update the previous structure along with enticing Guests who are fans of the new film. Plus, it would fit right in with Hollywood Studios’ theme!

Let's Watch… Frozen Live at the Hyperion – WDW Therapy: A Disney State of Mind

Credit: Michael Greiner

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Moreover, Frozen! Live at the Hyperion in Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort utilized a race-blind casting, something which could work here to provide part of both worlds. While some fans may balk at changing the original show into the storyline of the 2023 film, a plot that follows the original cartoon could still be used, with a race-blind casting allowing fans of all ages and ethnicities to see themselves represented.

That way, Disney could invest in more inclusive casting, and bring Bailey’s depiction of Ariel into the Parks in a way that would make everyone live… happily ever after.

About Spencer Johnette

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the Walt Disney Family Museum halls and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @gothelsflower.