The Little Mermaid – Classic Disney Animated Film

The Little Mermaid

“The Little Mermaid” is a cherished Disney animated film from November 17, 1989. It’s inspired by a story from Hans Christian Andersen. It’s about a teenage mermaid named Ariel who dreams of life as a human. With Prince Eric, Sebastian, and Ursula as friends, Ariel starts a magical adventure under the sea.

Key Takeaways

  • “The Little Mermaid” is a classic Disney animated film that was released in 1989.
  • It tells the story of Ariel, a teenage mermaid who dreams of becoming human.
  • The film features a talented voice cast including Jodi Benson as Ariel, Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, and Pat Carroll as Ursula.
  • “The Little Mermaid” was a critical and commercial success, earning two Academy Awards and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 1989.
  • The film’s beloved characters, memorable music, and timeless story continue to captivate audiences to this day.

Production and Release

Disney made “The Little Mermaid” and it came out on November 17, 1989. The movie had a big budget of $40 million. It was made between January and July 2021. Most scenes were filmed at Pinewood Studios in England and on Sardinia, Italy.

The film marked a new start for Disney’s animated movies after some failures in the early 1980s. When it hit theaters, people loved it. It made $84 million just in the U.S. and $235 million all over the world. By the end of the year, it was the sixth most popular film, impressing everyone with its magic story and beautiful animation.

Ron Clements and John Musker directed the movie. It won two Oscars for its music. “Under the Sea” was a hit song from the film. Disney’s success with “The Little Mermaid” not only drew people back to animation but also inspired a new golden age for Disney movies called the Disney Renaissance.

Since then, “The Little Mermaid” has never lost its charm. It’s still loved worldwide. It brought in over $111 million in the U.S. and $99 million around the world. This shows how much people adore this timeless tale.

Release DatesBox Office EarningsRunning Time
November 17, 1989$235 million worldwideApproximately 83 minutes

Plot and Characters

In the enchanting tale of “The Little Mermaid,” Ariel, a young mermaid princess, is at the heart of the story. She is full of curiosity and dreams of the human world. Her journey is marked by love, sacrifice, and finding herself.

Ariel is the seventh daughter of King Triton and the late Queen Athena. She dreams of a life beyond the sea, fascinated by human artifacts. With her friend Flounder, she sets out on exciting adventures, sharing her dreams along the way.

Things take a turn when Ariel falls in love with a human prince, Eric. To be with him, she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula. This deal costs Ariel her voice but gives her a chance to be human and win Eric’s love with a kiss.

With Ursula’s schemes threatening Ariel’s chances, the story becomes a battle towards love. Sebastian, a crab and King Triton’s servant, joins in. He adds joy with the song “Under the Sea,” showing his love for music.

Ariel’s strong ties with her family and friends, like Flounder, highlight the importance of these bonds. King Triton learns to overcome his overprotectiveness for Ariel’s happiness. These relationships deepen the film’s story.

“The Little Mermaid” captivates with its story of love and self-discovery. It’s about Ariel’s courage to chase her dreams. This classic tale touches the hearts of people of all ages.

Film Facts

BudgetBox Office Revenue (Worldwide)Box Office Revenue (US and Canada)Running TimePremiere DateRelease Date (US)
$240.2 million$569.6 million$298 million135 minutesMay 8, 2023May 26, 2023

Music and Songs

The music from “The Little Mermaid” is loved by both young and old. It was composed by Alan Menken and the lyrics were written by Howard Ashman. These songs are a mix of beautiful melodies and touching words.

The songs in the movie include classics like “Part of Your World” and “Under the Sea.” They tell the story of Ariel’s dreams and her life underwater. These tunes have become favorites and are known by many.

The songs touched the hearts of many and became very popular. The album sold millions and won awards. It even got a Grammy for best music for children.

In 2010, Rhapsody named it one of the best Disney soundtracks ever. This shows how the music from “The Little Mermaid” is still loved today.

Songs from the Original Film and New Compositions

A new album with music from “The Little Mermaid” was released in 2023. It features both old favorites and new songs. This mix adds more depth to the story.

The new tracks are by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. They bring a fresh take on the story. The album also has a special score by Alan Menken.

This special score sets the scene perfectly. It helps tell the story of “The Little Mermaid” in a new way.

Digital Deluxe Edition and Outtake Performances

A deluxe version of the album is available for fans. It includes the full original score. This lets fans enjoy the music even more.

Halle Bailey, who plays Ariel in the live-action movie, sings “Part of Your World” beautifully. Her version is a sneak peek at the movie’s magic.

Javier Bardem, as King Triton, sings “Impossible Child” in an outtake. This song is about a father’s love and worry for his daughter. It shows a different side to the story.

Chart Successes and Enduring Legacy

The 2023 album did very well on music charts. It was at the top of the Top Soundtracks chart in the US. This shows how much people love this music.

It also did great on the Billboard 200, reaching #21. This success proves the music’s lasting appeal across all ages.

“The Little Mermaid” music is as loved as ever. Its songs tell an unforgettable story. They will continue to be cherished for a long time.

Impact and Legacy

In 1989, Disney released its 28th animated feature, The Little Mermaid. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, it had a huge effect on Disney animation. This success is seen as the start of the Disney Renaissance, a period of great creativity for Disney.

The film’s success opened the way for other iconic movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. It showed that animated films could touch people’s hearts and be massive hits.

The story and characters of The Little Mermaid won over more than just those who saw the film. It inspired a Broadway show where the magical underwater world came to life on stage.

Because of its lasting popularity, The Little Mermaid became more than a movie. It turned into a series of stories, with a sequel, prequel, and stage play. Fans got more chances to dive into the world and adventures of their favorite characters.

Even now, people love The Little Mermaid. It has made a big impact on how we see entertainment and life. The movie continues to be a huge success, with its own line of merchandise.

Ariel, the movie’s main character, is now an icon. She stands for bravery and curiosity. Some people talk about her role in gender representation. However, many still connect with Ariel’s story of courage and setting off to discover the world.

“The Little Mermaid” changed Disney animation forever, captivating people all over the world with its vibrant stories.

In honor of its cultural importance, The Little Mermaid has won many awards. It was recognized with Academy Awards for its music and the song “Under the Sea”. These awards show its place as a cherished musical treasure.

The Little Mermaid Impact and Legacy

Cast and Voice Actors

“The Little Mermaid”, we love it because of its amazing voice cast. First, there’s Jodi Benson, the voice of the curious Ariel. Her spirited performance shines, bringing Ariel’s dreams to life.

Then there’s Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, the crab with a heart of gold. Wright’s voice makes “Under the Sea” unforgettable. His performance is both funny and heartfelt.

Pat Carroll does an outstanding job voicing the cunning Ursula. Her powerful voice brings depth to the sea witch. Ursula is now one of Disney’s most famous villains thanks to Carroll.

The film also owes much to its many voice actors, a total of 49, who filled The Little Mermaid’s world with their talent. This varied cast truly made the ocean come alive on screen.

A few like Brian Cummings, Jim Cummings, and Kimmy Robertson played multiple roles without credit. They added more layers to already memorable characters.

“The Little Mermaid” Voice Cast

CharacterVoice Actor
ArielJodi Benson
SebastianSamuel E. Wright
UrsulaPat Carroll
Prince EricChristopher Daniel Barnes
Various CharactersAdditional Cast

The Little Mermaid’s voice cast truly made the movie magical. Their voices and emotion have made it a classic that we cherish.

Critical Reception

“The Little Mermaid” received mixed reviews when it first came out. Critics had different takes on the movie’s good and bad sides. We’ll dive deeper into what the critics said and liked most about the film.

Criticism and Praise

Clarisse Loughrey from The Independent only gave it two stars. She disliked the visuals and felt the movie didn’t take enough risks. Loughrey believed “The Little Mermaid” played it safe without innovating.

The Guardian’s Ellen E Jones also rated it two stars. She didn’t like how the CGI characters lacked emotion. Jones thought this made the movie less engaging for viewers.

NPR’s Aisha Harris was very critical, lately giving it a poor review. She believed Disney’s remake fell short of the original, especially in the classic songs. Harris saw the film as lacking in new ideas.

On the flip side, Empire’s Helen O’Hara was more positive, awarding it three stars. She enjoyed the strong cast and new songs. O’Hara felt these elements were the movie’s highlights.

Variety’s Peter Dubruge particularly praised Halle Bailey, who played Ariel. He thought Bailey’s acting brought a fresh twist to the beloved character. Dubruge saw her as the bright spot in the film.

Lastly, The Telegraph’s Alex Diggins gave it a four-star review. He focused on Bailey’s charm and strong voice. Diggins found Bailey’s performance dazzling and key to the movie’s success.

Impact and Commercial Success

Even though critics differed in their opinions, “The Little Mermaid” did well at the box office. Its beautiful animation, catchy music, and charismatic characters won over the audience. These factors all played a part in its success.


Critical Reception Table

The Independent2 starsClarisse LoughreyCriticized visuals and lack of creative risk
The Guardian2 starsEllen E JonesHighlighted issues with CGI character expressiveness
NPRNot specifiedAisha HarrisCritical of subpar renditions of classic songs
Empire3 starsHelen O’HaraAppreciated solid cast and catchy new songs
VarietyNot specifiedPeter DubrugePraised Halle Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel
The Telegraph4 starsAlex DigginsEmphasized Bailey’s charm and vocal power

Franchise and Adaptations

“The Little Mermaid” paved the way for a big franchise with sequels, prequels, and a musical. These additions go beyond the original film, creating new stories and experiences for fans.

Sequels and Prequel

Several sequels have been released, letting fans join Ariel and her friends on new journeys. They keep the spirit of the first film alive. Viewers dive deeper into the ocean world and see their favorite characters grow.

“The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” is a prequel that focuses on Ariel’s early life. It explores her family ties and key life events.

Stage Musical Adaptation

The stage adaptation premiered in 2007 and was a hit on Broadway until 2009. It had 685 performances and 50 previews, showing the story’s lasting appeal. The musical brought new life to the tale, enchanting all who saw it.

Theatergoers got to see an underwater world come to life, complete with magical music and stunning sets. The musical kept the original’s heart while adding its own sparkle.

The stage musical truly makes the characters and songs of “The Little Mermaid” come alive. Audiences are left entranced by the performances and visuals. It’s an experience that brings joy to both young and old.

Expanding the World

The franchise has inspired video games, TV shows, and theme park attractions. These projects offer fans interactive ways to enjoy Ariel’s world.

Video games and live shows at Disney parks keep the story fresh for fans. They make Ariel’s adventures accessible and fun for people worldwide.

“The Little Mermaid” reimagines the sea world in many ways. Its success shows that people of all ages love its magical stories. Fans get to experience new adventures, keeping the fairytale’s charm alive.

Reception Among Audiences

“The Little Mermaid” is a story with fantastic characters and songs. Since its release, people have loved it. It’s one of Disney’s most popular movies, loved by both kids and adults.

It takes us to a magical underwater world. We follow Ariel, a mermaid who wants to be human. This story of self-discovery touches the hearts of many.

The movie’s characters are unforgettable. Ariel is a brave and curious princess loved by all. Sebastian, the singing crab, adds fun and Ursula, the sea witch, is a beloved villain.

Its music, like “Part of Your World,” is full of heart. These songs are favorites worldwide. They help make the movie a classic.

“The Little Mermaid” keeps enchanting new and old audiences, as its Rotten Tomatoes score shows. Its magic and beautiful story are adored by many, keeping it a favorite Disney film.

Critic ScoreAudience Score

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

Awards and Recognitions

Alan Menken has had an incredible career in film, theater, TV, and music. Over the years, he’s won many awards for his work. These honors show his huge impact on the entertainment world.

Menken’s work in film stands out with 8 Academy Awards. This is quite a feat, considering he’s been nominated 19 times. He’s also received many Golden Globes, a testament to his ability to enchant audiences with his music. Adding to his achievements are 10 BMI Film & TV Awards, proving he’s a legend in his field.

His influence in theater is just as significant. Though he’s been nominated for five Tony Awards, he has won once. He’s also the proud recipient of two Laurence Olivier Awards. These are big accolades in the theater world.

Turning to TV, Menken’s talent shines with two Emmy Awards. This recognition shows that his music crosses platforms seamlessly.

Much of Menken’s acclaim comes from his work on beloved films and shows. For instance, in 1989, he won an Academy Award for The Little Mermaid. Another highlight is his Grammy win in 1996 for “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. In 2020, Menken was celebrated at the Daytime Emmys for his work on Tangled: The Series. There, he won for Outstanding Original Song.

In total, Alan Menken boasts 8 Oscars. This makes him the person with the most competitive Oscar wins alive. Plus, Menken might soon join the exclusive EGOT club with an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony already in hand, leaving only an Oscar to achieve this rare feat.

PETA OSCAT Award2024Best Original Song
Howard Ashman Award2024Recognition
NAACP Image Award2024Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album
Saturn Awards nomination2023Best Music in a Film
Hollywood Music In Media Awards2023Recognition
Max Steiner Award2022Celebrated exceptional achievements in film music
Music Awards Foundation2022Best Music, Lyrics, and Arrangements in the theater category
Family Film Awards nomination2021Outstanding Original Song
Grammy Award nomination2021Best Musical Theater Album
Hollywood Critics Association nomination2020Best Original Song
Emmy Awards2020Outstanding Original Song
Annie Awards nomination2019Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production
Beauty and the Beast nomination2018Various categories: Best Original Song, Best Music, Adapted Song
Frederick Loewe Award2013Best Musical Score
Broadway Junior Award2013Acknowledgment for contributing to the advancement of musical theater for young people
Audience Choice Award2012Favorited songs: “Something to Believe In”
Tony Awards2012Best Original Musical Score


“The Little Mermaid” is more than a Disney film. It’s a story loved by all for years. It tells of Ariel, a mermaid who dreams of becoming human. This dream leads her to learn about sacrifice, love, and pursuing dreams.

Ariel faces stereotypes by choosing her own path. She lives under the sea but longs to be part of the human world. Ursula, the sea witch, warns about the dangers of not being true to oneself.

Kids love Disney movies for their magic. These films, like “The Little Mermaid,” can shape how children see the world. Psychologist Dr. Marry Hancock says Disney can teach kids about themselves and society. But, it depends on how adults talk to kids about these films.

As parents, we can guide our children about what they watch. This includes Disney films like “The Little Mermaid.” We should explain the deep themes and messages. This can help our kids think critically about what they see. We can help them look deeper into the world of the film.


What is “The Little Mermaid?”

It’s a beloved Disney movie. The story follows Ariel, a mermaid. She wishes to be human and fells in love with Prince Eric.

When was “The Little Mermaid” released?

“The Little Mermaid” came out on November 17, 1989.

Who directed “The Little Mermaid”?

John Musker and Ron Clements were the directors of this film.

Who are the main characters in “The Little Mermaid”?

Ariel, Ursula, Prince Eric, and Sebastian are the main cast.

Who provided the voices for the characters in “The Little Mermaid”?

Jodi Benson was Ariel’s voice. Pat Carroll voiced Ursula. Prince Eric was voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes. Samuel E. Wright brought Sebastian to life.

What are some of the memorable songs from “The Little Mermaid”?

Memorable songs are “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl.”

How was “The Little Mermaid” received by audiences?

Audiences loved “The Little Mermaid.” It’s a favorite Disney movie.

Did “The Little Mermaid” receive any awards?

It won two Academy Awards. These were for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

Has “The Little Mermaid” had any sequels or adaptations?

Yes, there were sequels, a prequel, and a stage musical of “The Little Mermaid.”

Why is “The Little Mermaid” considered a classic Disney film?

It’s a classic due to its captivating story, characters, and music.

What is the legacy of “The Little Mermaid”?

It helped reinvigorate Disney animated films. It started the Disney Renaissance.

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