CONFIRMED: Original Ariel Returns to ‘The Little Mermaid’

in Disney, Movies

The live action and animated Ariel next to each other.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

An iconic Disney Princess is returning to her original form for an all-new project. According to a social media post on Thursday, a new project is underway featuring Jodi Benson, the original voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989).

The Alan Menken and Howard Ashman classic returned to theaters in a new way last year with the live-action The Little Mermaid (2023). Directed by Rob Marshall with additional music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film starred Halle Bailey (Ariel), Jonah Hauer-King (Prince Eric), Melissa McCarthy (Ursula), Daveed Diggs (Sebastian), Awkwafina (Scuttle), and Javier Bardem (King Triton).

Halle Bailey gazing upwards as Ariel in The Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

Despite intense racist backlash when Walt Disney Studios cast a Black actress as the white animated mermaid, The Little Mermaid dominated the box office. It was the fifth-highest Memorial Day opening in history, making roughly $118.8 million. Months later, it became the most-watched Disney+ premiere ever, beating Hocus Pocus 2 (2022).

In 2024, Disney is capitalizing on the popularity of The Little Mermaid once again. In an Instagram story on Thursday, Jodi Benson revealed she was back in a recording studio for a return “Under the Sea!”

Jodi Benson reveals in an Instagram story that she's back in the recording studio to voice Ariel.
Credit: Jodi Benson via Instagram

“Working on a new surprise project,” Benson wrote. “Always thankful to be in the studio with my incredible engineer of 19 yrs.”

The legendary singer cleverly disguised classified information with pictures of Ariel and blue hearts but left a sneak peek at a script headlined “Ariel.”

Ariel gasping in The Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

Though Benson hasn’t revealed what she’s working on, it may be related to the Disney theme parks. Walt Disney World Resort recently announced that it would revive “Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” a live-action show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that never reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Walt Disney Imagineers are completely revitalizing the show, meaning there’s a chance Benson is playing a part in the updated Disney Park attraction.

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Would you like to see Jodi Benson return as the animated Ariel? In the comments, share your ideas for a new The Little Mermaid project with Inside the Magic. 

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