Princess Ariel is a mermaid who first appeared in Disney's 1989 theatrical release, The Little Mermaid as the main protagonist. She reprises her role as the protagonist in its prequel television series, and prequel The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. She, however, isn't the main character in the sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, which her daughter takes over as; instead, there she is a secondary character. Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson in all the above animated material. She is the fourth Disney Princess.
The character is based on the protagonist of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" story, but was developed into a different personality for the 1989 animated film adaptation. Her distinct appearance consists of long, flowing red hair, a greenish-blue tail and a purple seashell bikini top. A stage musical version of the 1989 film debuted in 2007, in which the "live" role of Ariel was originated by Sierra Boggess and finalized by Chelsea Morgan Stock.
Ariel's original design was developed by animator Glen Keane, who reportedly said in an animation lecture that she was based on his own wife. Ariel's appearance was also based on model Sherri Stoner, who provided live-action references for the animators during the development of the film and also inspired the look for Belle. A challenge in animating Ariel for the 1989 film were the color required to show Ariel in the changing environments, both under the sea and on land, for which the animators required 32-color models, not including costume changes. The blue-green color of Ariel's fin was a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character. Ariel has been compared to past Disney Heroines but is more physically similar to Alice from Alice in Wonderland as they both have big eyes, a broad forehead and a small mouth and chin.
Jodi Benson, who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast, was the choice to voice Ariel because the directors felt "it was really important to have the same person doing the singing and speaking voice". Co-director Ron Clements remarked that Benson's voice had "sweetness" and "youthfulness" that was unique. When recording the vocals for Ariel's theme song "Part of Your World", Benson reportedly asked that the lights in the studio be dimmed, so to create the feeling of being deep under the sea.
Ariel is a bright, spirited mermaid who is also adventurous and stubborn. Her love for adventure sometimes gets her into trouble. Usually, however, Ariel overcomes any obstacle she faces. Her best friend is a fish named Flounder, and she develops a close relationship with a crab named Sebastian, the court's composer. Ariel is also impulsive, as striking the deal with Ursula and exploring whilst forgetting about the concert. In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel matures after becoming a mother. Due to the threat of Morgana, she becomes overprotective of Melody in the same manner she was treated by King Triton in the first film. She is shown to long for the sea, but keeps this hidden from Melody for her own safety.
As a mermaid, Ariel is strikingly beautiful (won an award for most beautiful disney heroine) and has an hourglass figure and warm and immaculate silken skin. As a teenager, her breasts, shoulders, hip and waist are perfect proportions. From the waist down, she has a green tail with paler green, translucent fins and wears a brassiere made out of purple sea shells. She has large, bright blue eyes and full red lips. Her most defining feature is her long, crimson red hair.
When she becomes a human, Ariel's lovely tail is turned into two beautiful, long, slender legs with small feet. At first, the only article of clothing she wore was her seashell bra, but wears an old sail with some rope to keep it closed fashioned by her friend Scuttle. After being taken in by Prince Eric, she wears a dress with light blue sleeves, a black bodice, and a blue shirt. She also wears a big blue bow in her hair and black heels.
As depicted in the 1989 film, Ariel is the youngest of King Triton's seven daughters, and is 16-years-old. Ariel has a vast fascination with the world of humans, despite contact being forbidden by her father, Triton, who hates humans. The beginning of the film shows Ariel salvaging human items, and taking them to Scuttle for identification. Ariel keeps them in a secret grotto as part of her collection, from books to other regular objects (such as globes, mugs and the like), but realized that collecting human objects wasn't enough and desires to actually live among the humans. During a storm, Ariel rescues Prince Eric, whose ship sinks. She sings to him on the shore, but is forced to leave when others approach. Ariel falls in love, and became determined to accomplish her dream of living alongside humanity.
After an argument with Triton regarding her love for the human world, her father destroys all of her human objects, including the statue of Prince Eric Flounder had given to her as a gift just before. Greif-striken, Ariel goes to Ursula, the sea witch. In exchange for Ariel's voice, Ursula makes Ariel human. However, if she cannot get Eric to kiss her within three days, Ariels would become Ursula's prisoner. (Unknown to Ariel, this is simply a part of Ursula's plot to take Triton's throne.) Though she is unable to speak, and thus unable to identify herself, Eric takes Ariel in. Ariel and Eric begin to fall in love, but Ursula intervenes, by turning herself human and hypnotizing Eric with Ariel's voice. The hypnotized Eric plans to marry "Vanessa", actually Ursula in disguise. Ariel is able to stop the wedding, and regain her voice. But before Eric and Ariel can kiss, the third day ends and Ariel becomes Ursula's prisoner. Triton offers himself in Ariel's replacement, allowing Ursula to gain control over the sea. Ariel and Eric have a final showdown, during which Ariel is trapped and left helpless at the bottom of a whirlpool. Ursula aims her newly aquired trident at the princess and fires bolts of pure destruction at her. Ariel fearfully manages to avoid her painful demise each time and is saved by Eric. At the end of the film, Ariel is made human by Triton, who has realized how much Ariel loves Eric. Ariel stays on land with Eric, and marries him. Ariel and Eric live happily ever after.
The prequel series, which first debuted in 1992, takes place an indeterminate time chronologically before the 1989 film, and revolves around Ariel's adventures as a mermaid living under the sea. Most Ariel's adventures involve her meeting various creatures, getting in trouble, and usually getting out of it successfully. Her friends Flounder and Sebastian are also featured prominently in the series. She is also shown to have a friend named Urchin, an orphaned merboy. The series also has her meeting Hans Christian Anderson, which also hints at both her possible birth year and the possible chronological events of the series, due to being a direct influence on the creation of the story (it was published in 1837, and written in 1836, which meant that Ariel was born in c. 1810-1811, and the series took place in 1835-1836.)
Ariel continues to be fascinated with human things in the series and is shown collecting items for her grotto. Many episodes show Ariel working to foil enemies who would do harm to Atlantica. Prince Eric is sometimes shown in the show, but Ariel always just misses seeing him, preserving the continuity that she sees him first in the 1989 film.
This 2000 direct-to-video sequel shows Ariel as having given birth to a daughter named Melody. When we first see Ariel playing with her newborn daughter, many toys of Flounder, Sebastion and other fish can be seen in the room, showing that she misses her old friends and family. When Melody's safety is threatened by a sea witch named Morgana (sister of Ursula, who died in the 1989 film), Ariel and her husband Eric decide they must keep Melody away from the sea, and to this effect, build a large wall separating the castle from it. Melody's love of the sea proves too strong, however, and when Melody falls into Morgana's clutches, Ariel is forced to temporarily resume her mermaid form in order to rescue her and save Melody from Morgana's scheme. In this time, Ariel breifly returns to her grotto as seen in the first film, and studies the objects,(which we are left to presume survived King Tritons anger in the first film) and keeps looking for Melody. This sequel features Ariel becoming an overprotective parent for her daughter, effectively taking over the role of her father in the 1989 film. Ariel is the first and only mother of the Disney Princesses.
This direct-to-video prequel features Ariel as a young mermaid. King Triton, her father, has banned music from Atlantica because it reminds him of his deceased wife. It is also shown that Ariel and her sisters were raised very strictly after their mother's death. She learns about music after stumbling onto a forbidden music club. Ariel vows to help her her father realize how wonderful music really is. At the same time, Ariel becomes a victim of a plot by Marina Del Rey, the girls' governess, who wishes to become Triton's attache. In the end, Ariel is successful in her quest, and Triton restores music to Atlantica.
Ariel appears as a regular guest in the animated television series House of Mouse and its specials. Her appearance alternates irregularly between her human form and her mermaid form, depending on what the situation requires. In the series, Ariel is repeatedly shown with Daisy Duck, who seems to be a big fan of Ariel and her films. In "Pluto Vs. Figaro", she tried to sing on stage, although the set ended up falling on top of her. Another time, Pete attempted to flood the club to run out the customers, as he could shut down the club if there were no guests. Though he succeeded in flooding the club, he was stopped from closing the club as Ariel was still present.
Ariel also appears in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. In the film, Ariel, along with Eric and other characters are snowed in and trapped inside the club. Ariel is the first to have faith in Mickey Mouse, who she believes will have a plan.
In a special trailer promoting the film Lilo & Stitch, Ariel was seen performing the reprise of Part of Your World, when Stitch surfs a giant wave towards her, ruining the song. In anger, Ariel throws a starfish at Stitch, exclaiming "I was singing here!!".
In the manga series Kilala Princess, Ariel plays a prominent role in Kilala's adventure to become a princess. She is the second Disney princess to be visited. While mistaking Kilala to be a fish, she helps her look for a young prince named Rei, who separated from her in a storm. After finding the prince and providing medicine, she becomes curious with love and hopes to find her own true love someday. It inspires her to sing.
After Rei was captured by the sea witch Ursula, Flounder comes to inform Ariel. On their way to the witch's lair, Flounder collapses due to exhaustion and injury. Ariel then inspires Kilala to fight using her singing voice to remind her of the strength of love. After the witch is defeated, Ariel gives Kilala an aquamarine gem. Ariel is last seen handing an emerald to Kilala's Magic Tiara.
The mermaid first appears in Power Play when she helps Willa escape Judge Claude Frollo. She then teams up with the Keepers to defeat The Overtakers. It is revealed at the end of the book that she is friends with the captain of the Disney Magic.
Ariel has been confirmed to appear on the second season of ABC's Once Upon a Time. Her backstory and the actress playing her is currently unknown.
Songs performed by Ariel
- Part of Your World
- One Dance
- Down to the Sea
- Here On The Land and Sea
- I Remember
- For A Moment
- If You Can Dream
Ariel makes regular appearances in the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, having a special location called Ariel's Grotto at most of them.
Ariel also makes a brief appearance in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Ursula briefly morphs into Ariel as an attempt to destroy Merlin the Wizard but is transformed back by the park guest. Later on however, the real Ariel arrives to celebrate the defeat of Ursula.
Ariel appears as the main star in the musical show in Disney's Hollywood Studios and Tokyo DisneySea. In the show, Ariel plays out her exact same role in the film. Ariel makes and deal with Urusla and ends up with her true love Prince Eric.
Ariel appears during the Princess Melody in the live nightime spectaculer and reappears in the end riding either Steamboat Willie or the Mark Twain Riverboat.
Ariel appears in the computer animated show in Disney's Magic Kingdom, Hong Kong Disneyland , and Tokyo Disneyland. In the show, Ariel sings "Part of Your World", while Donald Duck tries to obtain Mickey Mouse's sorcerer hat for a very important show. During the song, Donald shows that he has feelings for Ariel and even attempts to kiss her, but kisses an electric eel instead.
Ariel appears in the live nighttime spectaculer at Disney California Adventure in the Disneyland Resort. Ariel appears in the very beginning of the show along with Flounder singing Part of Your World followed by Sebastian singing Under the Sea.
Ariel makes a cameo appearance in Mermaid Lagoon.
Ariel makes a cameo appearance in the boat ride in Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.
A theme park ride based on the 1989 film opened on June 3rd, 2011 at Disney California Adventure. The ride exterior will be modeled after the Dragon Gorge Scenic railway at the long gone Ocean Park amusement zone in Southern California. In 2013 a similar attraction will open at Walt Disney World.
This version is re-named Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid and the ride exterior will be modeled after Prince Eric's castle. The ride will follow Ariel's adventure in the original film as she must win Eric's heart, make peace with her father and defeat Ursula the sea witch.
The Little Mermaid (NES)
Taking place after Eric skewered Ursula in the original film, Ariel and Eric are planning to wed, but the sea-witch Ursula (somehow resurrected) has taken control of the ocean. So Ariel becomes a mermaid once more and sets off to rescue the sea.
The game takes place from a side view and Ariel (swimming most of the time, but hopping around on the land occasionally) can shoot bubbles to trap her foes and can then throw them at each other. She can also dig through sand to find treasure and pick up sea shells to break chests open with.
After Ursula is defeated for good, Ariel attempts to return to the surface and become human, but she cannot return to being a human. Triton then attempts to help Ariel out by transforming her back into a human, and their wedding continues as planned.
Although this game is not canon, this exact situation where Ariel had to be turned back into a mermaid would be duplicated in The Little Mermaid II where she dives off a much larger boat (Eric's lead fleet ship) rather than his rowboat in the NES game.
In this game, Ariel is first seen sitting on a rock near the harbor awaiting for the blond-haired heroine of the game who has a bow on her head to befriend her. She convinces her that the land and the sea had lost their music so she took her under the sea to get the singing voices of the merpeople back and keep her human treasures from being broken.
Ariel appears as a meet-and-greet character in front of It's a Small World as well as a participant in the Mickey's Soundsational Parade gameplay. Ariel asks the player to complete several task as well. One includes finding seashells for a collection. Another involves finding some decor to decorate the parade floats with. At one point, Scuttle loses a load of dinglehoppers and Ariel asks the player to return them to her so that she may return them to Scuttle.
Ariel appears in the Kingdom Hearts series and is voiced by her original voice actress Jodi Benson. She is featured in the game not as one the seven Princesses of Heart (her spot is taken by Alice from "Alice in Wonderland") but as one of two female warriors, along with Mulan, to join Sora, Donald and Goofy in the fight against the Heartless
Ariel makes her Kingdom Hearts debut in the first game in the series. She meets Sora, Donald, and Goofy when she is running away from the Heartless with Sebastian and Flounder. They teach the player how to move around in their new forms, and Sora, Donald, and Goofy cover up the fact that they are from another world by claiming that they are from a distant ocean. When she hears Goofy talking to her father about a Keyhole, she decides to help them find it and manages to find the crystal, that resembles her father's trident, that has the power to reveal the Keyhole. King Triton arrives in time to destroy it, and Ariel leaves in tears.
The sea witch Ursula lures her into helping her steal the Trident from her father, with the promise of helping her get to other worlds, while also revealing that Sora, Donald, and Goofy are in fact from another world. However, things don't go as Ariel planned, as Ursula makes off with the trident and injures Triton. With Sora's help, they defeat Ursula.
After sealing the Keyhole, Sora apologizes to Ariel for lying to her, but she lets it slide, confident that, if they could find a way to travel to different worlds, then so can she.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, she appears as a memory of Sora. She roams around Atlantica though when she sees Sora and friends she runs away for no reason. Sora and company find out she was running away because she stole her father's Trident to save Flounder from Ursula's clutches. Sora and his friends help Ariel confront Ursula and save Flounder. After Ursula's defeat Sebastian arrives and Ariel decides to face the consequences for taking the Trident.
In Kingdom Hearts II, she has an unusual role, as Atlantica sets a musical stage about Ariel and Prince Eric. She saves the Prince from drowning and takes him to shore. There she sings to him until he awakes.
Unable to forget about the Prince, she falls into deep depression, and so Sora and the others decide to help her. When her father finds out that she has fallen in love with a human, he tries to make her forget about him by destroying the statue of him that Flounder gave to her as a gift to cheer her up. But then Ursula reappears and makes a deal with her: to make her human for three days in exchange for her voice. In addition, she must make the prince kiss her willingly before sunset on the 3rd day, otherwise she will become hers forever. Despite the hardship, she signs the contract and finally gets to meet Eric in person, although he does not recognize her at first.
On the third day, Ariel gets her voice back with Sora's help, and they all battle the sea witch again. Once Ursula is defeated, Ariel reveals to Eric that she is a mermaid and says goodbye to him, but he does not change his feelings about her. Seeing how much they are in love, King Triton's view of humans changes and he lets his daughter be with a human prince. After the final song, "A New Day is Dawning", is sung, Ariel is disappointed to learn that Sora, Donald, and Goofy are leaving, but they refuse to say goodbye and assure her in song that they will meet again, to which she happily agrees. In the ending credits, Ariel is seen in human form and marries Eric.
A stage musical version of the 1989 film had its world premiere in Denver, Colorado in 2007 for its pre-Broadway tryout, and on January 10, 2008 debuted on Broadway. The character of Ariel for the stage adaptation was originated by Sierra Boggess. Jodi Benson, the original voice actor for Ariel, attended the musical's opening night.
A few new songs were added to the score, accompanying the songs in the film that were moved to the stage. "The World Above" is Ariel's introductory song, replacing the entire shark-chase sequence in the film. In Act 2, although Ariel has become mute, she sings two songs expressing her thoughts and feelings, these songs being "Beyond My Wildest Dreams", where Ariel explores the human world for the first time, and "If Only", in which Ariel bemoans that she cannot express her feelings to Eric. Additionally, Ariel's voice can be heard in the extended opening of "Fathoms Below", although she is not seen on-stage.
The stage musical features new plot elements not present in the film. It is explained through dialogue that Ariel inherited her mother's singing voice, adding another layer to Triton's protectiveness of her. Ariel and Eric's romance is expanded from the film, as explored in a musical sequence "One Step Closer" where the pair dance together. In the climatic battle, it is Ariel, not Eric, who destroys Ursula by smashing the magic shell. The reason for this change was that the musical's creative team did not want Ariel to come off as passive. It is to be noted that she also is labelled as Ursula's niece in the musical, based on a deleted concept on the film.
While she is a Mermaid, Ariel has a few abilities. She is known to have at least a certain degree Superhuman strength, as she was able to move away an underwater boulder blocking her grotto with relative ease in the original film (which, in real life, an underwater object blocking an object with an unbalanced volume would result in the door being sealed shut and virtually impossible to open, which doesn't even take into account Water Pressure and other related factors.). Also, according to a slightly alternate version of the Ending to the original film, Ariel slams into Ursula damaging her enough to knock the Trident off of her. The fact that she can give an Octopid Sea Witch who is at least 300 pounds and far larger than her a degree of damage by bumping into her implies that she has superhuman strength. In Ariel's Beginning, she seemed to be able to knock down a door to free her friends (This is especially telling as Sebastian stated immediately prior that Ariel was "a weak helpless girl"). It's debatable if she ever retained her superhuman strength by the time she became a human.
She may also have Superhuman endurance, as during the final battle with Ursula in the film, Ariel was at one point knocked into a whirlpool that is several miles deep and survived with barely any injuries. Such a feat would kill a normal person if not completely destroy the body of said person. Like her superhuman strength, it's debatable if she ever retained her Superhuman Endurance when she turned into a Human, although her first transformation implied that it was retained as her body was not being crushed while trying to swim for air (in real life, a human who is at that depth would be crushed into oblivion in a matter of seconds due to the immense water pressure).
As a mermaid, she is also able to metabolize Oxygen from the water, which negates the need to surface, though she is certainly more than capable of breathing on land. Also, she is capable of swimming at a much faster rate than humans or even certain marine creatures in terms of undersea travel, or sea travel as a whole due to her half-marine status. Like Dolphins, she is capable of leaping out of water at great heights. For example, She was able to get to Triton's Greenland Palace from Sicily, Italy (the implied location of Eric's kingdom) in less than a day, as well as getting from Atlantica to Norway in the episode "Metal Fish" in a similar time fashion. Because of her being a mermaid, she is also capable of speaking with aquatic fauna.
While in human form, she seems to at least have some knowledge of swordplay, which is evident when she used one to cut the rope of a mast to save Melody from Morgana. Also, her ability to speak with Marine Fauna is retained in her human form. Whether her abilities of Superhuman Strength/Superhuman Endurance were retained upon becoming human is debatable.
She also seems to be capable of rapid adaptability. This is especially evident in terms of her becoming a temporary human, where she learned how to stand in a few minutes, and move in presumably the same timespan (whereas the average human seems to need a few months at the very least to learn how to walk), as well as quickly learning about the true human customs and abandoning her original beliefs about how human artifacts work, or at the very least not doing it in public) In the Kingdom Hearts timeline, she also seems to excel at Lightning Magic (presumably due to her father wielding the Trident). It's also implied that she was capable of reading advanced literature, as during Part of Your World, she is seen reading an immense book in the grotto. And in one of her episodes, she became a sea-witch and used her magic to grant Sebastien's wish of being bigger but unfortunately, the spell continuously worked, making Sebastien continue to grow to the point where he surfaced while standing, and Ariel's magic was fueled by the light of the full moon. She lost her magic and status as a sea-witch when she wished the whole entire mess never happened, and her magic did just that, erasing the entire event and influencing Ariel so it wouldn't happen in the re-set timeline.
Ariel is one of Disney's most iconic animated characters, and her specific color combination of red hair, purple sea shells, and green tail make her distinctly identifiable. She is also thought of as being the first Disney princess to break free from the traditional princesses of the 30's through 50's, as she is a very proactive character, whilst earlier heroines were more reactive. Ariel makes the choice to exchange her voice for legs, and fights to achieve her dream. Earlier Disney heroines often had dreams, but they did little about them, and they usually only involved finding a prince and living happily ever after. Although Ariel wishes to be with Eric, her desire to be human also adds a dimension to the story. Many see her as being the first contemporary Disney princess, since she is independent and proactive about making her dreams a reality instead of simply waiting for them to come true.
Ariel is one of ten characters of the Disney Princess line, a prominent franchise directed to young girls. The franchise covers a wide variety of merchandise, including but not limited to magazines, music albums, toys, clothes and stationery. Ariel is usually depicted in her mermaid form on the merchandise, but also appears in human form wearing her blue dress, white wedding dress or pink dress. The Disney Princess magazine features comics and posters of Ariel, usually in mermaid form. She is the second Disney Princess that is shown naked (the others are Cinderella and Fa Mulan). Ariel is the only Disney Princess who is not human to begin with because she was born as a mermaid.
- Ariel is the only Disney Princess to not be born a human.
- Ariel is the only Disney Princess to have a child of her own.
- Ariel is the second youngest princess (being sixteen years old) while Snow White is the youngest.
- Ariel is the second Disney Princess to be tempted by the villain's offer to make her wish come true (the first being Snow White and the third being Tiana), and yet, the last to give in to the temptation.
- Unlike her sisters, as a mermaid Ariel doesn't wear hair accessories.
- Although all of Ariel's sister's names begin with the letter "A", Ariel is the only one to be of Roman instead of Greek origin, and the only one to not end with the letter "a", as in Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella and Alana. This could have been in an attempt to draw more attention to Ariel and emphasize how original she is.
- In Hebrew terms, Ariel translates to English as "lion of God".
- Although Ariel and Athena bare a striking resemblance, her personality is more similar to that of her father, King Triton's. This is especially noticeable in The Little Mermaid II, when Ariel reprimands her daughter Melody for disobeying orders and venturing out into the sea, the same way Ariel disobeyed her father's rules in the first film.
- Ariel's daughter Melody shares almost all of Ariel's personality traits from the first film. However, Ariel dreamt of becoming human and living on land while Melody's dream was to swim beneath the waves.
- Ariel is the first (and currently the only) Disney Princess to have red hair.
- Ariel was the first Disney Princess to expose her midriff, and the second to be portrayed naked, after Cinderella. However, in Ariel's case, she was at least partially naked, as she retained her bra.
- Ariel is the first and currently the only Disney Princess to have biological siblings (the other Disney Princesses are only children).
- Ariel is the only Disney princess to not speak for most of the original film having traded her voice for legs. Aurora is an exception as she doesn't utter a word after her last speaking scene with the three fairies.
- In Return of Jafar, Genie briefly transformed into Ariel near the film's climax.
- In A Goofy Movie, a mermaid lamp with Ariel's trademark colors was seen in Goofy and Max's motel room.
- For more pictures and screenshots of Ariel, click here.