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Under the Sea still the place to be

Let's be honest, we all love the latest and greatest things we can find in Walt Disney World.  The novelty of something new and the ability to see what Disney's Imagineers have been working on lately never ceases to capture our imagination as Disney World fans.  So what happens to the attractions we loved but are now "old"?

Voyage of the Little Mermaid is the theme park equivalent of the peanut that falls between the seat cushions.  Like the others before it, it would have tasted really good but we quickly lose sight of it because there are other, newer peanuts that aren't dusty ready to taste.  Basically, Voyage of the Little Mermaid is still a great attraction almost twenty years after it debuted in the Studios.

What I love about Voyage of the Little Mermaid is the mix of media, great songs and tremendous performances.  Stage shows can get tired quickly, especially ones that are live action but the cast of Voyage of the Little Mermaid seem to still be able to put on superb shows even today.

I mentioned the mix of media and Voyage of the Little Mermaid is more than just a stage show. We first have the story presented to us on a screen using video to bring us under the ocean. Then lasers display the title and before you know it, we're seeing some really great puppetry to get things going.  Unlike some other technical achievments that stopped working shortly after they debuted, the special effects here are still working and really convey that sense of "wow, this isn't like anything I've seen before" that Disney World atractions are so good at. 

There's no denying how great the soundtrack is to the Little Mermaid film.  Like so many Disney movies, I'll hear a song on the radio or on my iPod or somewhere else and say to myself "You know, that is a really good song. I forgot how good it was."  Voyage of the Little Mermaid has those great songs and if you get the right Ariel (some are better than others), you can really get a really moving performance.  

My absolute favorite part of this attraction is the puppetry.  I still don't know how the performers don't run into each other or slip and fall on that dark stage with no lighting. But they manage to give personality to each character we see and really make you believe these puppets are interacting with the human characters on stage.  The entire "Under the Sea" musical number is essentially what I'm talking about and it stands out as a great performance.  I love the dancing and performance in Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, but the puppetry here is far more difficult and the result still amazes me to this day.

Like many of you, I often write off seeing attractions I've done many times before because, well, I've done them so many times before.  It's not that I don't enjoy them, but I tend to gravitate towards the newer attractions I've done less to keep things fresh.  The reality is, seeing attractions like Voyage of the Little Mermaid never cease to remind me how good they were in the first place.  

It all goes to that perpetual question we get asked as Disney fans "You're going to Disney World again? Why? You were just there!".  When you can see something like Voyage of the Little Mermaid for the umpteenth time and still find it remarkable, that's why we love Disney World so much.  My advice to you on your next trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios and you're working on your touring plan for the day, stop by Voyage of the Little Mermaid and pay attention to the detail here and I think you too will come away impressed by something you've seen many times already.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 by