It's a Good Year to Be a Little Mermaid Fan!

Disney has been very kind to my favorite fairy tale over the past few years. It had an impressive 30th anniversary reception at the D23 Expo, a live televised concert, and an upcoming live-action movie that has unfortunately struggled with a few unexpected setbacks. Now fans of the redheaded Disney Princess have even more treats to look forward to. The Disney Wish, the newest Disney cruise ship setting sail this summer, will feature an all-new Little Mermaid stage show. Details for the show have just been revealed along with an exciting new collection of Little Mermaid-printed merchandise from Vera Bradley. On top of that, Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel, recently announced she will release her autobiography, Part of My World: What I've Learned from The Little Mermaid about Love, Faith, and Finding My Voice, this September!

Preview of the upcoming Little Mermaid Stage show onboard the Disney Wish

Sometimes it's hard to please a superfan, and I found myself sorely disappointed with the 2007 Broadway production of Disney's The Little Mermaid. That said, I'm always willing to give the Disney creatives another chance, and this new Little Mermaid show onboard the upcoming Disney Wish might be just that. The show is described as a "modern-day retelling" in which "audiences will rediscover the iconic scenes, acclaimed music, and beloved characters of the film, as a cast of contemporary storytellers put their own spin on the timeless tale." Like most Little Mermaid stage shows, "Under the Sea" is planned to be a huge production with puppets resembling the ones used in Voyage of The Little Mermaid at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Many of the "modern twists" appear to draw inspiration from the upcoming live-action movie, such the actress in the concept art baring a resemblance to Halle Bailey, our newest Ariel. Another modern twist is that we will hear Ariel's thoughts during scenes where she has no voice. Her "inner voice" is reported to "play an important and meaningful role" in the "Kiss the Girl" sequence. With extra songs and dialogues for Ariel, this show has the potential to add an even deeper layer of meaning to the mermaid's burning passion that is so relatable to young people.

Little Mermaid Collection from Vera Bradley

Another recent announcement comes from an unlikely place. Vera Bradley, a company renowned for adding feminine prints to luggage and storage supplies, just released a limited edition Little Mermaid collection! These fun new prints featuring Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, and lots of pink sea flowers on an ocean blue background, are available for purchase on the vast majority of Vera Bradley's products. My personal favorite is the ID holder keychain, which comes in two different varieties--one that features a colorful splattering of fish and flowers from the show-stopping "Under the Sea" number, and another with a large embroidered print of Ariel and a seashell-shaped keychain. The collection also includes keychains, sandals, notebooks, and beach towels--everything you'll need to carry you belongings with you to your dream vacation destination! It's too bad this collection came out right after my trip to Hawaii or I would have invited Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian to join the fun.

Part of My World: What I've Learned from The Little Mermaid about Love, Faith, and Finding My Voice

Last but certainly not least, Jodi Benson, the woman who provided Ariel with her incredible voice, announced last week that she obtained a publishing deal with Tyndale Publishing to release a new book for all of her fans. She posted on her Instagram that fans have been asking questions "for 30+ years...about The Little Mermaid, about Broadway, about my life" and that this book is her "love letter" to those of us who have been inspired by Ariel since we were children. Her autobiography will encompass her roles on Broadway as well as her work in the recording booth with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, which can be seen in old production videos of The Little Mermaid. After being such a successful performer for so long, I wish Jodi Benson the best of luck in her new career as an author and look forward to reading Part of My World: What I've Learned from The Little Mermaid about Love, Faith, and Finding My Voice when it hits shelves on September 13th.

Ariel Nendroid figure

I feel very fortunate to be a fan of one of the most popular Disney Princess movies that gets loads of attention from the company. Ariel gave me the courage to chase after my dreams and the inspiration to continue forward even when things didn't go the way I planned. I always felt seen by the Walt Disney Company as a fan of this film and have countless ways to express my passion for it through clothing and merchandise such as this beautiful posable Nendroid that I received as a belated birthday gift. What's your favorite Disney movie? Do you feel like Disney gives it the attention it deserves? What princess show or product are you looking forward to the most this year? Let me know in the comments!


whitephoenix said…
Ariel is my favorite princess and The Little Mermaid my favorite Disney movie so I'm very excited for Jodi Benson's autobiography. Especially since it will also cover some of her other animated roles besides just Ariel. I'd especially love to hear what she has to say about playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid TV series and the sequel with Melody and if her own experience as a mother informed her performance of Ariel as a mother.

I hope this sets a trend for some of the other iconic princesses to write about their own experiences as well. Such as Paige O'Hara, Linda Larkin, or Irene Bedard (who I hope is doing alright since the last couple of years she's had some unfortunate personal incidents made public). I know Jodi and Paige were friends even before Disney so I'd love to hear more about their friendship in Jodi's book as well as the groupchat that Jodi, Paige, and Linda keep up.
Lisa Dawn said…
I agree that it would be very neat to read about some of Jodi's roles on Broadway such as performing in Smile The Musical! I was also a big fan of the TV series and don't feel like it gets talked about nearly enough.

I think of the actresses you mentioned, Jodi and Paige have been the most passionate about staying connected with Disney. Linda and Irene put forth less of active role in remaining part of the fan community, which is fine if that's not what they're interested in. Ming-Na Wen is still very much involved with Disney and has gone on to play several live-action roles for both the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, which I think is awesome for her! Paige still contributes through artwork for Disney Fine Arts. She has made several paintings of Belle and one for Ariel as a limited edition cover of the 30th anniversary blu-ray of The Little Mermaid.

I wish all of these actresses luck in whatever they choose to do next, whether it's writing, artwork, acting, or something else entirely.
whitephoenix said…
I've always been hoping the TV show would get a DVD or Blu-ray release but Disney doesn't seem interested in that for some reason.

I think Jodi and Paige also get more exposure because they are both the speaking and singing voices so there are a lot more opportunities for them to keep coming back. Musical concerts won't be able to feature Linda or Irene or even Ming-Na. Jodi and Paige also play leads for their movies which is why they come up a lot in Disney bonus features, whereas while Linda does show up, bonus features for Aladdin usually focus on Scott Weinger instead since Aladdin was the lead. And Pocahontas in general doesn't get as much attention as the movies before it so I think that's also a factor as to why we don't see Irene as much. There's no new Platinum/Diamond/Signature collection release for Pocahontas every 7 years or so that gets press attention or new bonus material. I do love how Ming-Na has worked for both Marvel and is now part of the Star Wars family as well! She's such a talent! I've also seen Paige's artwork as well as the painting she did for Ariel as a Blu-Ray cover, and I would love to maybe own one of her paintings one day.

I know Disney hasn't always treated Paige that well in the past, like not letting her play Belle in the Broadway show (I presume they felt she was too old for the part) or when they replaced her with Susan Egan (again) as the voice for Belle because they felt her voice had aged too much. So it was nice that they allowed Paige to continue to collaborate with them in other ways through her painting so she is still part of the Disney family. I think I remember from one of the BATB bonus features that Paige said painting was her original love, even before acting and singing.
Lisa Dawn said…
I've seen some fan-made DVD releases of The Little Mermaid: The Animated Series, although it's kind of irrelevant now that it's on Disney Plus. I also have a two-disc special edition of Pocahontas that's just as good as the Platinum Editions. I don't remember what year it came out. I don't usually get the Diamond Editions because I don't see any point in buying the same movie twice.

Susan Egan still plays Belle sometimes, but it's inconsistent. I love that she's doing the Disney Princess concert now since it's a great way to remind people who she is. Plus, she has so much personality and is a pleasure to watch even when she's not singing!
whitephoenix said…
I've seen those DVD releases as well although I never picked any of them up. Like you said, thankfully Disney+ has the show now. I have the same Pocahontas DVD but the majority of its bonus features were carryovers from the 90s laserdisc. The only new material was reinserting If I Never Knew You and some games. Platinum/Diamond Editions tend to create new making-of-documentaries and unearth new deleted scenes from the Disney Vault but Pocahontas only got all the old features that were created a decade earlier.

I remember Susan Egan was replaced with Julie Nathanson as the voice of Belle but I didn't realize they switched back to Susan. I adore Susan!
Lisa Dawn said…
I don't know. A lot of people don't have laserdisc players, and I learned a lot from the Pocahontas DVD such as how all the animators thought it would be a bigger hit than The Lion King and were disappointed if they got stuck on that project instead of Pocahontas and seeing the big outdoor screening they planned.

As far as Belle goes, I believe Paige was actually the last person to play her since I don't think she has appeared in anything since Ralph Breaks the Internet. Susan still has a pretty big presence with Disney as the only original member left in the Broadway Princess Party for the new Disney Princess concert. Sometimes it feels like she carries the entire show herself. I adore her too. :)

Take care!
whitephoenix said…
In case it sounded that way, I'm not criticizing that they ported over most of the laserdisc features to DVD because I've never used laserdisc either. However there's definitely a noticeable difference between how Platinum vs non-Platinum movies are treated on home video. The Platinum movies got most of their old bonus features ported over plus new material which wasn't the case for Pocahontas.

I think RBTI was an exception because the emphasis was on bringing back all the original princesses like it was a special event, hence why Paige was asked back. I don't see Disney making her the official voice of Belle again in products and merchandise though.

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