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The "Little Mermaid" attraction that you never got to experience

The "Little Mermaid" attraction that you never got to experience

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And -- of course -- you know Ursula, the sea witch. Ariel's nemesis from "The Little Mermaid."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.

No one at Disney Feature Animation ever anticipated that Ursula would be such a break-out character. That movie-goers would respond so strongly to this heavy set half-woman/ half octopus. But -- according to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's book, "The Disney Villain" -- the sea witch is one of the studio's most popular villainous creations. Secondly only to Cruella De Vil in the audience's affection.

So -- given how popular Ursula was with Disneyana fans -- it only stood to reason that the sea witch would start popping up in parades and shows for the Disney theme parks. Her initial appearance came in October of 1991, as "SpectroMagic" first rolled through WDW's Magic Kingdom.


Photo by Jeff Lange

This was followed by Ursula's featured role in Disney-MGM's "Voyage of the Little Mermaid." Which had its world premiere at the studio theme park back in January of 1992.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Ursula made her West Coast debut in May of 1992 as part of the cast of Disneyland's "Fantasmic!"


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And -- since that time -- the sea witch has been featured in WDW's "Share a Dream Come True" parade at the Magic Kingdom ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

As well as Disneyland's "Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams" ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

And -- admittedly -- that's already an awful lot of Ursula. But -- truth be told -- the Imagineers had once planned to build a sea witch-themed spinner ride (I.E. Something quite similar to Disneyland's "Dumbo the Flying Elephant") directly underneath the "California Screamin' " coaster over in DCA's Paradise Pier area.

Which (admittedly) would have been pretty cool. But that Ursula spinner ride would have paled in comparison to what WDI had planned for Disneyland-Paris as part of that theme park's original expansion plan.

You see, the Imagineers wanted to build a full-fledged "Little Mermaid" dark ride. Where DLP guests would have traveled through an elaborately themed environment on board vehicles that were somewhat similar to the flying galleons used in "Peter Pan's Flight."

Anyway ... These seashell-shaped craft would have taken theme park visitors "Under the Sea" into a three dimensional recreation of the world that they first spied in this 1989 animated feature. And -- of course -- one of the stops on the tour would have been Ursula's cave ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And the climax of this proposed Fantasyland attraction would have been a close encounter with an oversized version of the sea witch.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Sounds like a truly snazzy ride, don't you think? Well, the Imagineers who worked on this project (I.E. Bruce Gordon & the late David Mumford) certainly thought so. But due to all the financial problems that dogged the Euro Disneyland Resort almost from its opening back in April of 1992 ... So many of this resort's grandiose expansion plans never quite made it off the drawing board. Including DLP's "Little Mermaid" dark ride.

But the upside is ... Good ideas never really die at WDI. And among the concepts that are reported being considered for possible installation in that vast expanse of recently reclaimed land at WDW's Magic Kingdom (You know? The spot that "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" used to occupy?) are that Ursula spinner that was originally proposed for DCA and/or the "Little Mermaid" dark ride that the Imagineers wanted to build at Disneyland-Paris.

So you may be seeing even more of this sea witch in the future. Which hopefully will please all you Ariel-aholics out there.

Jeff Lange is the staff photographer / archivist here at JHM. He recently released his very first DVD, "Jeff Lange's Trick or Treat." Which offers full coverage of last year's "Mickey's Not-so-Scary Halloween Party" at WDW's Magic Kingdom. If you'd like to learn more about this entertaining recording, we suggest that you follow this link.

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  • This is a cool article because now the imagineers did build a little mermaid ride. I can't to ride it!

  • Good read. I learn something totally new and difficult on articles I stumbleupon every day. It's always helpful to study content from their author`s and practice a little from other web pages.

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