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Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

How The Little Mermaid rescued the Walt Disney Studio’s

Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

On November 14th, 1989, Disney’s The Little Mermaid premiered and it was the hit that the Walt Disney Studio’s desperately needed.

In the 1980’s the Walt Disney Studios wasn’t what it was today. It was a sinking ship, on the verge of bankruptcy with tanked films such as The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), and Oliver and Company (1988).

So, the Walt Disney Studio’s brought in the creative forces of Michael Eisner as the new CEO and Jeffrey Katzenburg in charge of the Animation Division. Their mission was to bring the Walt Disney Studio’s back to life!

The idea to make an animated film of The Little Mermaid was from Ron Clements, who went to a bookstore and read the classic fairy of the same name, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837. He pitched the idea at Jeffrey Katazeberg’s ‘gong show’ for the screenwriters to share their idea. Initially, The Little Mermaid was rejected for being too similar to Touchstone’s Splash. But that all changed, when Jeffrey read the two page treatment (synopsis) and wanted to expand on the story.

Ron Clements teamed with John Musker to write the script, but they knew they were missing an essential element to any Disney film: Music!

So, Disney recruited Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to write the music for The Little Mermaid. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, both had a musical theatre background. They had written Little Shop of Horrors in 1982, which was a smash success!

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken started writing the music for The Little Mermaid in 1988. They wrote all the iconic music in the soundtrack and gave Disney a revitalized broadway-treatment to it’s music. Howard Ashman incorporated the “want song” for the Disney heroine, that is now a key-part of the Disney musical storytelling, conveying what the female lead wanted most in life and how the audience roots for her to get to happy ending!

The music, wasn’t Howard’s only forte when it came to storytelling. Upon Howard’s arrival to the Walt Disney Studio’s, he had a meeting with the animators about how musical theatre and the Disney film were very much alike. The animators were so energized and revitalized by Howard’s speech that they were ready to prove themselves.

It was Howard Ashman’s idea to change the Sebastian’s ethnicity from British to Pacific Islander. He collaborated with John Musker and Ron Clements on storytelling elements for The Little Mermaid, including the film’s ending.

Jodi Benson had worked with Howard on the Broadway musical, Smile in 1986. He thought that she would be perfect to voice The Little Mermaid‘s headstrong heroine, Ariel. She auditioned and got the iconic role of Ariel, a year later.

Shortly after hearing Jodi Benson sing Part of Your World, Glen Keane, went to the studio and demanded that he draw Ariel. At first, the studio was hesitant to give him the position, but after some pushing, the studio agreed.

During an early screening of The Little Mermaid, a child had spilled their popcorn during Part of Your World.  Jeffrey wanted to pull the song, thinking it would be a flop, Howard famously told him, “Over my dead body!” Yet, when Glen spoke to Jeffrey about keeping the song in the film,  Jeffrey listened to him and Part of Your World  stayed in the film.

The Little Mermaid tells the story of Ariel, a adventurous, strong-headed, fiercely independent mermaid whose fascinated with the human world. Her father, King Triton is the ruler of Atlantica. He has a deep hatred for the human world and is overly protective of his daughter, Ariel.

When Ariel goes to the surface and rescues the handsome Prince Eric from a terrible storm out at sea, she is more determined then ever before to be human, so she could be with him. She visits the conniving and sassy sea-witch Ursula, who makes a lofty deal with her, so she could be human. Ariel has three days on land to be with Prince Eric, but she must give Ursula her voice. The only way for Ariel to remain human and stay on land with Prince Eric is through the “kiss of true love”. Ariel agrees to the deal and becomes human.

Meanwhile, on land,  Eric is searching for the girl who rescued him and is disappointed that he hasn’t found her yet. Thankfully, his trusty dog, Max sniffs out Ariel in her human form and leads Eric to her.

Upon meeting Ariel, Eric is certain that’s met her before, but he can’t remember where. So, he invites her to his palace to stay. They have an instant connection and Eric is smitten with Ariel, despite the fact that she can’t speak.

Three days pass, and Ursula comes to land, disguised as Vanessa to collect Ariel and to steal her ever after. Eric is elated to discover that Ariel had rescued him and risks his life to save her. Ariel’s father, King Triton is alerted by Sebastian and Flounder of Ursula’s plan and he confronts her, demanding his daughter back. To save Ariel, King Triton trades his power to rescue his daughter. Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, and Flounder work together to try and defeat Ursula. With Eric’s quick-thinking, he impales Ursula.

Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) and Prince Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes) in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Shortly after the battle, King Triton is once again the ruler of the sea and he sees just how much Ariel and Eric love each other. So, he transforms Ariel into a human. Eric is elated that she’s returned him. They happy couple gets married and they lived happily ever after.

The Little Mermaid premiered in 1989 and was an instant success. It grossed $84 million dollars at the box office.The film went on to win two Academy Awards for Original Score and Original Song (Under the Sea) in 1990.

The Little Mermaid revitalized the Walt Disney Studio’s, bringing it back to life, and launching the Disney Renaissance! It’s astonishing to think, that if it wasn’t for The Little Mermaid, we wouldn’t be streaming Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian on Disney+ today!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Film Review: Howard on Disney+

Howard Documentary on Disney+

Howard was released on Disney+ on August 7th, 2020. For any fan of Disney, this film is a must watch.

The film opens, in the recording studio of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with Howard Ashman and the cast recording the soundtrack. His passion for music, storytelling, and directing are evident in the footage.

From there, Sarah Ashman Gillespie (Howard’s sister) candidly talks about how some of her most fond memories of Howard, were of the world’s he created.

The film portrays Howard as a true creative at heart, who understood his purpose in life was storytelling through music. Like most creative personalities, Howard was both confident and self-conscious, seeing his vision crystal clear, yet struggling to make it happen. He was stubborn, yet passionate and in many cases, it’s that combination that innovators and visionaries are made of.

Howard founded the off-broadway company WPAwhich years later, which impressed Jeffrey Katzenburg, who years later, would beg Howard to work with him at the Walt Disney Studios. Howard eventually said yes and brought his friend and fellow composer Alan Menken on board for a little project called The Little Mermaid.

Howard Ashman Credit: Disney +

Alan Menken, Jodi Benson, Glen Keane, Ron Clements, John Musker, Roy Disney, and Jeffrey Katzenburg in the documentary talk about their experiences working with Howard on The Little Mermaid. Howard at the time of film’s production had learned that he had AIDS, yet continued to work in spite of that. He had worked on two other Walt Disney Studio films prior to his death in 1991 that included Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

For any fan of Disney or of The Little Mermaid, Howard is a must-watch. It explores the life, struggles, career, and untimely death of a man who changed the Walt Disney Studios and musical theatre forever.

Thank you Howard for giving a mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul. We you and will remember you for your contribution to musical theatre and Disney. 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

Howard on Disney+

Howard Ashman

On July 16th, 2020 the Walt Disney Studios had announced that it would debut an original documentary on the life and music of Disney Legend, Howard Ashman titled Howard.

Howard is scheduled to be streamed on Disney+ on August 7th, 2020.

Howard Ashman’s influence on Disney is evident, even today. He used the storytelling formula, normally used in musical theater and Disneyfied it.

If it wasn’t for Howard Ashman, Ariel wouldn’t have her iconic “want song” of Part of Your World.

He was even referred as “Another Walt” by Roy E. Disney for his passion of music, drive for perfection, and love of storytelling.

The announcement of this documentary is very exciting for any Disney fan or fan of The Little Mermaid knowing that Howard’s contributions to The Walt Disney Studios goes beyond the storyboard and piano.

This documentary will give fans a chance to learn more about a man whose become nothing short of a Legend. Howard Ashman.

 

 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Whozit & Whatsit Pins

Whozit & Whatsit Pins Logo

Have you been exploring the seven seas, looking for incredible fantasy pins to add to your collection?

If you have, Whozit & Whatsit Pins is the place for you.

Kelly has been passionate about Disney’s The Little Mermaid her entire life and like many fans, has a growing collection of all things Ariel. How she got into pin making was an unexpected blessing in disguise.

A Mother's Love LE 35 pin
A Mother’s Love pin LE 35

It was difficult for Kelly to buy the official Disney’s The Little Mermaid pins from the Disney Parks and online in Ireland and she didn’t want to pay outrageous prices for pins on sites like eBay or Etsy. So, she decided to do, what every loyal and devoted fan does:

Kelly started to make her own little mermaid fantasy pins and they are gorgeous!

Underwater Lovers pin

Whozit & Whatsit Pins has quickly gained a lot of popularity for the unique style of pins. About 90% of the pins created by Whozit & Whatsit Pins are of Ariel and of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Dance with Me (Eric and Ariel Jumbo pin)

Whozit & Whatsit Pins are known for their large pins and for capturing fan-favorite scenes of The Little Mermaid. The pins are full of exquisite details, that truly make them one of a kind.

Whozit & Whatsit Pins most ambitious pin to date, is a seven piece pin series, depicting Ariel’s journey in The Little Mermaid. Kelly was inspired by AndrewsGrotto sketch for the pin collection and the results are absolutely breathtaking.

Tale of Land and Sea (pin set)

Whozit & Whatsit Pins are unique and defiantly worth collecting! A must for any fan of Ariel and The Little Mermaid.

Once you start collecting Whozit & Whatsit Pins, you’ll be wanting  a grotto full of them!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live (Performance)

The Little Mermaid Live! debuted on November 5th, 2019, as a special film-hybrid anniversary concert. It was filmed on location at the Walt Disney Studios.

A glowing Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel) opened the show, sharing some of her memories of making The Little Mermaid 30 years ago and how much, the film has been apart of her life.

The Little Mermaid Live! was directed by Ron Clements, John Musker, and Hamish Hamilton.

John Musker and Ron Clements wrote the original script for The Little Mermaid for Disney in the 80s. Like Jodi Benson, anything regarding The Little Mermaid, they’ve written it, such as the The Little Mermaid TV Series, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, and so much more. So, it’s no surprise, that they were involved in The Little Mermaid Live! as well as the new The Little Mermaid Live Action film starring Halle Bailey as Ariel.

The Little Mermaid Live! starred Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Shaggy as Sebastian, Graham Philips as Prince Eric, John Stamos as Chef Louis, and Queen Latifah as Ursula.

One of the best performances of the night, was Queen Latifah singing ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’. She added her own spin to the classic song, for the villain Ursula. Queen Latifah owned the stage and personified Ursula in every way.

Another fan favorite moment of the night was Auli’i (Ariel) and Graham (Eric) singing ‘If Only’. ‘If Only’ first made it’s debut in 2008, for The Little Mermaid on Broadway. It was a wonderful opportunity for fans, who had never heard the song for the very first time.

The Little Mermaid Live! overall, was filled with many magical moments, including John Stamos (Chef Louis) forgetting Prince Eric’s name.

It was definitely a wonderful blend of screen and stage, that many fans will remember as a wonderful way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid.

 

 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

 

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark by Edvard Erichsen

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, pays homage to the story that put Copenhagen on the map. All thanks to fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark by Edvard Erichsen

The idea for the statue, began in 1909, when Carl Jacobsen attended a a ballet performance of  The Little Mermaid with prima ballerina, Ellen Prince in the title role. He was instantly inspired to sculpt a statue, using Ellen Prince as the model. So, he hired a little known sculptor, by the name Edvard Erichsen to do the job for him.

Ballerina, Ellen Price modeled the head of the statue, while Edvard Erichsen’s wife, modeled the nude body of the little mermaid.

The sculpture, Edvard Erichsen decided to depict the little mermaid with legs and a fish tail, overlooking the sea, as a way for the mermaid to recall that she was a mermaid from the sea.

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark by Edvard Erichsen

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is the cities biggest tourist attraction and attracts more then a million visitors per year. The statue is a little over 4-feet high and weighs 386 pounds. It is Copenhagen’s smallest attraction, yet the most popular. It’s made of bronze and had resided along the Langelinie Pier since August 23, 1913.

Every year, on August 23rd in Copenhagen, the city holds a huge celebration in honor of the statue at Langelinie Pier. People dress up in mermaid costumes and swim near the statue.

Screenshot from Disney’s The Little Mermaid beside The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, also served as inspiration for Disney in the 1989 film of  The Little Mermaid.  In one of the final scenes of the film, after the final battle against Ursula, Ariel is sits on a rock, gazing the shore. This was the animators homage to the statue in Copenhagen and Hans Christian Andersen.

For over a century, this remarkable statue in Copenhagen has stood proudly on Langelinie Pier.

It is a must-see for any fan of The Little Mermaid!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Disney Legend and Icon: Jodi Benson

Disney Legend Jodi Benson at Walt Disney Studio’s in Burbank, California

This particular article is dedicated to Disney Legend: Jodi Benson, whose changed and inspired the lives of many.

Jodi is best-known for providing the talking and singing voice of Ariel in Disney’s 1989 film, The Little Mermaid.

For many of us, growing up in the 90’s, Ariel was a part of our childhood’s and memories. We danced to the unforgettable soundtrack on a cassette tape, pretended to be mermaid’s in the pool, and begged our parent’s to take us to Disney Parks,  just to catch a glimpse of Ariel or if we were lucky enough, to meet her.

Ariel was one of our earliest role models, before many of us knew, what a role model was. We desired Ariel’s life, the same way, Ariel desired to explore the human world and to be on land.  Jodi’s influence has transcended for a lot of fans, beyond childhood. We see Jodi Benson as an icon, inspiration, friend, and mentor. She’s helped shape the lives of many, by being as vocal, strong, and determined as Ariel. We are forever blessed to have Jodi be a part of our world. There are many of us, who are eternally grateful to Jodi, in ways, that mere words cannot describe.

If it wasn’t for Jodi Benson voicing Ariel, this blog, wouldn’t exist. It’s because of Ariel, that I became interested in mermaid’s.  Ariel was and forever will be, my favorite Disney Princess and will continue to inspire me in all aspects of my life. For me, no trip to any Disney Park is complete without visiting Ariel. And there are many other fans, who would say the exact same thing.

So, how did Jodi land the iconic role of Ariel?

Howard Ashman and Jodi Benson
Howard Ashman and Jodi Benson

Short answer. Howard Ashman.

Back in 1986, Jodi Benson starred in the ill-fated musical Smile at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, that only ran for 48 performances and closed January 1987. The lyrics and book for Smile were written by Howard Ashman.

After the show closed, Howard offered an audition to Jodi and the other girl’s in Smile for another project he was working on with Alan Menken. That film was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. He gave Jodi a snippet of the script and a cassette recording of him singing Part of Your World.

A year later, Jodi would get a phone call that would change her life forever. She got the part of Ariel.

The Little Mermaid would be Disney’s first fairy tale film in 30 years. The film is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Little Mermaid that was published in 1837. Many fans, would consider Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid as their introduction to the classic fairy tale and to mermaids.

As we grew up, so did Disney’s The Little Mermaid franchise. Jodi voiced Ariel in video games, TV Shows, sequels and prequels, and so much more. The franchise itself, would be nothing without her.

Thanks Jodi for being Part of Our World! We love you!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live (Cast)

Disney’s The Little Mermaid 30th Anniversary Logo

2019 marked a big milestone for Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” The film had celebrated it’s 30th anniversary and in honor of that anniversary, Disney had decided to host a live-hybrid event titled: “The Little Mermaid Live”.  Disney had announced that they would be using puppets, Disney magic, and star-studded cast to bring this Disney Classic back to life. 

Disney was wise in it’s casting for this event, by selecting Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastion, and John Stamos as Chef Louis.  

“The Little Mermaid Live” is Auli’i Cravalho’s second project with Disney. She originated the singing and acting voice for the Disney-Pixar film “Moana” in 2016. Her voice is soft, yet powerful, which is why she was perfectly cast for the role of Ariel. 

Auli'i Cravalho (Photo by JSquared Photography/Contour by Getty Images)
Auli’i Cravalho (Photo by JSquared Photography/Contour by Getty Images)
Graham Phillips (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
Graham Phillips (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
Queen Latifah (Photo by Jim Spellman/FilmMagic)
Queen Latifah (Photo by Jim Spellman/FilmMagic)
Shaggy (Photo by JSquared Photography/Contour by Getty Images)
Shaggy (Photo by JSquared Photography/Contour by Getty Images)
John Stamos (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
John Stamos (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

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There was no doubt, to many fans however, that Queen Latifah would steal the show as the sassy and villainess, Ursula. Queen Latifah, is a female rapper, actress, and entrepreneur. 

A few changes that Disney made in the hybrid production would be to include a few songs from Disney’s Broadway Production of “The Little Mermaid” such as ‘Her Voice’ and ‘If Only’. Giving fans, who had never seen or heard the Broadway soundtrack, the chance to discover it for the very first time. 

For all fans of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, it is a must to watch “The Little Mermaid Live” to experience film and live theater merge together for a unique experience. 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

WhatDoYouSuppose

Whatdoyousuppose
Whatdoyousuppse profile picture on Instagram

One of my favorite accounts on Instagram, is Whatdoyousuppose, founded by Logan in 2018.

Logan’s fans connected with him, for his raw honesty, love for all things Disney, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Logan has openly shared on Instagram, that his obsession with Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Ariel, started as a child.

Logan at the Walt Disney Studio’s, where he took a picture with Ariel’s handprints (Jodi Benson) on the Disney Legends wall.

Logan’s dream is to one day meet Jodi Benson (Original voice of Ariel).

Logan with animated Ariel at D23 in 2019 at the H2O Photo Booth
Logan with animated Ariel at D23 in 2019 at the H2O Photo Booth

Whatdoyousuppose is truly a unique, fun-loving fan account for Disney’s The Little Mermaid,  that I encourage all fans to follow.  You’ll have a fintastic time following Logan and his enthralling adventures of all things Ariel!