Fan criticism sparks minor makeover for The Little Mermaid ride as Disneyland replaces ‘soft serve’ hair and CG animation

in Disney, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Theme Parks

Since The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure first debuted at Disney California Adventure in it’s been met with both praise and criticism by Disney fans, excited to finally have a dark ride dedicated to Ariel and friends, but also disappointed by a few of its visual elements.

This week, Disneyland Resort is addressing a pair of those concerns during a temporary closure of the attraction, beginning today and wrapping up Friday.

The Little Mermaid herself is featured throughout the attraction sporting a variety of hairstyles, which appear to sway and float while guests are “under the sea.” But during the scene featuring that famous song, Ariel’s swirly hair style is often misinterpreted by guests as a beehive or likened to a soft serve ice cream cone rather than simply representing hair floating underwater.

Whether it’s realized by guests or not, the controversial hair style is straight out of Disney’s 1989 animated film:



That moment takes place at the beginning of the “Under the Sea” song, when a few fish swim circles around Ariel causing her hair to rise up. It’s one that many fans of the film instantly recognize in the attraction and enjoy seeing represented there, but confuses those who don’t make the connection.

Take a closer look at the “soft serve” hair beginning 3:20 into the full ride video below:

It was Ariel’s lifelike features, including her hair, that Disney touted during previews of the attraction in the park’s Blue Sky Cellar:

But fans have few complains about Ariel’s long, flowing red hair seen in her first appearance in the ride. It’s only the “soft serve” style that’s getting a makeover. (I personally think it looks fine as is and is a fun variation.)

Another widely-criticised element of The Little Mermaid ride has been its use of computer-generated animation in two places, depicting Ariel and Flounder swimming overhead near the beginning of the ride and later showing Ariel’s transformation from having a mermaid tail to legs.

This week these sequences will be replaced by traditional 2D animation, matching the style of the original film.

The Orange County Register quotes Disneyland Resort spokeman Kevin Rafferty Jr. about the ongoing changes:

“Ariel will receive a new, floating hairdo in the ‘Under the Sea’ scene, and two instances of computer-generated animation in the descent and ascent scenes of the attraction will be replaced with animation sequences from Walt Disney Animation Studios, depicting Ariel as guests remember seeing her in the motion picture – the way they know and love her. With every new attraction, we listen to guest feedback and are always looking at the best ways to tell a great story.”

When The Little Mermaid ride opens later this year at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, it will also feature these same updated elements. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure will reopen at Disney California Adventure on Friday, May 4, 2012.

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