I’m going to tackle my first attraction review today with one of Disney’s newer rides: Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
Park: Magic Kingdom
Location in Park: New Fantasyland
Soft Opening Date: October 12, 2012
Opening Date: December 6, 2012
Vehicle Type: Omnimover
Riders per Clamshell: 2 or 3
Ride duration: 6 minutes 15 seconds
My family and I had the ability to ride this during the soft open period in November 2012. We went during a period that was only open to annual passholders. Even still, the ride had a 20 minute wait when we got into the queue. This gave us plenty of time to take pictures of the queue and inside the ride.
After taking pictures of the sign, we headed into the queue. The Imagineers put a lot of work into the queue. Guests start at the surface with a beach and waterfalls before heading further and further “under the sea.”
Once you get under the sea, Ariel does have some ground rules for her guests about littering – written as only Ariel can put them.
Once guest pass this sign, they are Under the Sea and there is a mix of video and animatronic displays for the guests to entertain them while they are waiting.
The video images do not have sound but still provide a few moments of entertainment as you pass them.
A word of warning for those who enter the ride. And finally, guests get their first glimpse of Ariel.
Once guests reach this point, they are almost on the ride. Like all Disney omnimover rides, there is a cast member asking how many people. My wife rode in her own clam shell while daughter and I rode in another. She is the better picture taker especially on a ride and gets the credit for all the pictures in this review.
Guests go past a brief reintroduction/introduction of The Little Mermaid story told by Scuttle. After that brief introductions, guests are taken into what can best be described as a big under sea party jamming out to the Under the Sea song from the movie.
The ride takes a dark turn as Ursula comes in to make Ariel a deal to meet her true love and walk on the land in exchange for her voice.
The part can be a little scary for the very little guests as the ride gets really dark at this point. For those who aren’t afraid of the dark can look over and see a video depiction of the transformation of Ariel from mermaid to human.
From here, guests move on to Ariel and Eric taking the boat ride where Ariel tries to convince Eric to kiss her without the ability to use her voice.
After this King Triton gives his approval of the marriage and the ride closes with wedding of Ariel and Eric.
Note: No flash photography was used in any of these pictures as to not take away from the enjoyment of the other guests on the ride.
The attraction is one of the centerpieces of the New Fantasyland expansion project and it does not disappoint. The ride is fast paced and stays true to the story. It has a party theme throughout the ride minus the section where Ursula appears to make the deal to take Ariel’s voice. Adults will enjoy the ride as they remember a movie from Disney’s not to distant past – The Little Mermaid will be 25 this year – let that thought work through your head today. Kids will enjoy seeing a story that they have only seen on a TV screen since the re-release in 3D was cancelled last year.
However, it is no longer the newest attraction in New Fantasyland. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fully opened this weekend. However, Under the Sea does have an advantage over Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Under the Sea is a omnimover while Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a roller coaster. This means that Under the Sea can move more people through ride than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This leads to shorter wait times which is a huge plus if you have younger guests who want to go on an attraction rather than wait in a line.
For guests with older kids or no kids, as New Fantasyland empties out later in the evening, the wait times for Under the Sea become almost non-existent. Cast members during these times will let guests stay on the ride for a second or a third time without having to get off the ride.
As the ride ages, I can see Under the Sea turning into a The Seas with Nemo & Friends where it is a popular attraction but not most guests first choice. That being said, Under the Sea will still be a popular attraction that will have a lot of staying power in New Fantasyland
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