May 27, 2011

This Mermaid Has Legs

With soft openings the last few days, we've finally had to chance to see the debut of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure in Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure. OK, ok. Not in person but via several videos posted by the not so poor unfortunate souls who have had a chance to be there in person.

The consensus? It's a nice little "D" ticket ride full of Audio-Animatronics, special effects, and showstopping music by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. The building is stunning- "E Ticket" worthy, the queue fairly elaborate, but by all accounts, the attraction is a bit too short with a truncated story. Picture, if you will, an attraction more on par with Epcot's Living Seas with Nemo but with better animatronics, somewhat longer, and with award winning music. What's not to like?

Apparently, plenty. Objective critics and die-hard fans alike seem to point out flaws big and small. From the style of Ariel's hair, the clunky transitions between show sets, and the abundance of simpler animated characters in the Under the Sea scene, there are aspects of the attraction that look like they could have been better. Yet, without giving the Imagineers a pass, this is California Adventure's first real old school Disneyesque attraction and given the limited budget and space, looks like they did one heck of a job.

This style of attraction is light years beyond the awful Golden Dreams with its politically correct presentation of California's history, with Whoopi Goldberg and her face projected creepily onto statues in a cut-rate theater. Ariel's Undersea Adventure is much more in line with the beautiful renaissance of Paradise Pier and ultimately more satisfying. With so much to see at every turn, families will line up more than once for this show- probably making Mermaid a must-do with every return to the park. That is a good thing.

Admittedly, I have yet to see it myself. But I'll take it over another film or carnival iron ride any day. This is the style of attraction California Adventure has been missing since its hip and edgy opening days, and I'm glad Ariel is finally here. Bring on more.

(With thanks to MintCrocodile for the image.)


Annie said...

I think some people are too quick to point out all the flaws before they appreciate the attraction for what it is. It was not built to be a 10+ minute "Mansion" style storyline. It's taking cues from the original fantasyland shows and keeping the story short and simple. However, look at all the advances added to it! None of the original storybook attractions are so extensive in characters and still contain the lesser-advanced animatronics. They kept Ariel in the same style with brilliant design and color. I for one, love it already and can't wait to ride it in a week!

Mark Taft said...

I agree. I'd love to be riding it in a week- but Fall will have to do!