The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (stylized The Little Mermaid Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) is a dark ride attraction situated in Paradise Gardens Park at Disney California Adventure based on the 1989 Disney animated picture The Little Mermaid.
Guests board one of 105 Omnimover vehicles designed to look like enormous, colorful clamshells (Similar to the ones found at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot). These pass through a hole in the shattered hull of Prince Eric’s ship. While the instrumental version of “Fathoms Below” plays behind him, Scuttle greets the Guests and makes a jumbled attempt to tell them Ariel’s narrative. The clamshells then twist reverse as they travel down the beach and “underwater” (an effect achieved through projections and blasts of cold air). The clamshells continue their plunge through rocky underwater tunnels teeming with seaweed and coral (in Disney California Adventure, clams, fish, seahorses, and starfish can be seen in the passages as well.) Ariel and Flounder are momentarily visible through an opening in the ceiling.
The underwater passage opens to see Ariel singing “Part of Your World” in her grotto. She is surrounded by her collection of human-made treasures. Flounder glides with her, while Sebastian appears from time to time among the bric-à-brac. King Triton’s castle can be seen in the distance as he tells Ariel of the wonders of being under the sea, and the picture opens out to a magnificent underwater garden where Sebastian conducts dozens of singing, dancing sea creatures through the song “Under the Sea.”
The joy fades as Ursula’s pet eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, welcome the Guests to the sea witch’s lair. The clamshells enter the jaws of a giant beast’s bones, where they discover Ursula singing “Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” standing at her crystal ball, surrounded by her collection of lost souls. Ariel is surrounded by a whirlwind of light as she trades her voice for a set of human legs.
Clamshells ascend among projected bubbles and splash upon a lagoon’s coast. While Sebastian sings “Kiss the Girl,” Eric and Ariel sit in a boat together, leaning in to kiss each other before backing away awkwardly. After leaving the lagoon, the clamshells pass in front of a doorway leading to Prince Eric’s castle, where silhouettes of Ariel and Eric are finally seen kissing. A golden orb shines from Ariel’s neck, indicating that she has regained her voice. As Ariel and Eric kiss, the orb encircles them, forming a heart shape. On the horizon, a smoldering shadow of a vanquished Ursula may be seen.
The clamshells continue throughout the attraction’s final scene, when King Triton, Sebastian, Flounder, and other sea animals celebrate Ariel and Eric’s wedding. The pair says their goodbyes from a gazebo on the beach. Fireworks erupt in the sky above. Scuttle concludes his story as the clamshells enter the unloading area, declaring that he’s “not such a bird-brain after all.”
For Guests who are unable to transfer from their wheelchair, the attraction provides 103 regular clamshells as well as two wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs).
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