8 Things You Didn’t Know About The Little Mermaid

1. Ariel’s underwater motions are based on space travel.

To capture realistic gravity-free motion in underwater scenes, Disney animators based their sketches off of American astronaut Sally Ride’s motions in space.

Sally Ride

2. Before there was Sebastian, there was Clarence.

The character Sebastian began as an English butler named Clarence, but the character was revised after lyricist Howard Ashman suggested  a reggae feel for the score.


3. Ursala was drawn for the voice of Golden Girl‘s Bea Arthur.

The villain was drawn specifically for the voice of Bea Arthur, who eventually declined the part. Pat Caroll filled the role, although the character was left unaltered.

Bea Arthur

4. Ariel’s body was modeled after Alyssa Milano’s.

Animators looked to Alyssa Milano in Who’s the Boss? as a model of the youthful beauty they wanted Ariel to embody.

Alyssa Milano

5. The artists hired live-action actors to illustrate character motions.

Live-actions models were a staple of classic Disney films like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty but were less frequently used in later years. Disney hired Sherri Lynn Stoner from the Los Angeles Groundlings comedy improvisation group to exaggerate Ariel’s facial and body movements.

Sherri Lynn Stone

6. Over one million bubbles were drawn for the film.

Since The Little Mermaid was the last Disney film to use hand-painted cells, each new scene had to be created from scratch. Although stationary backgrounds were often reused, moving objects such as bubbles had to be redrawn with each new animation cell.


7. The soundtrack has been certified six-time platinum.

The Little Mermaid soundtrack sold over 6 million copies worldwide, an unprecedented feat at the time. The album also won two Oscars in 1990, one for Best Song from an Animated Feature Soundtrack (“Under the Sea”) and one for Best Album for Children.


8. The Little Mermaid pioneered the Disney Renaissance.

The Little Mermaid was the first of many highly successful films under new CEO Mike Eisner. The Disney Renaissance includes such blockbusters as The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Hercules.

Disney Renaissance

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