Bonggamom meets Ariel: Grand Opening of Disney's Little Mermaid ride

Yay!  Construction is beginning on The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure opening in 2011!photo on Flickr by Lauren Javier

I first found out that a new Little Mermaid attraction was being built at Disney's California Adventure early last year, when we went to Disneyland for spring break. I remember looking at the signs painted on the construction wall and thinking, This? Is going to be Huge.

Fast forward over one year later, and I found myself back at the Disneyland Resort, attending the opening ceremony of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Instead of construction walls, there now stood a building that vaguely reminded me of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco (the rotunda was originally the entrance to the former “Golden Dreams” attraction), and a stage to one side of it, with a beautiful sea-themed backdrop.

The opening ceremony was a star-studded affair, with Pat Carroll (the voice of Ursula), Sherie Rene Scott (who originated the role of Ursula on Broadway), Alan Menken (the composer), and Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel). Jodi and Sherie performed on stage, singing Part of Your World and Poor Unfortunate Souls.

Even more special was when Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks, joined Jodi and Sherie in the final musical number to open the ride amid a flurry of confetti and fanfare. My video of the final musical number turned out terrible, so I'm embedding a video taken by the folks at Inside the Magic:

It was a privilege to be able to watch such a special event, but the magic wasn't over yet. After the opening ceremony I joined a group of bloggers for a private audience with the Little Mermaid herself, Jodi Benson! She was so nice and sweet, dishing to us about her favorite song from the movie (Part of Your World), how her kids feel about mommy being Ariel (proud), how she feels when she saw her character in the ride (almost detached, but pleased and happy), and what she tells kids who ask why she isn't a redhead ("Ariel's hair is only red in the water"). I'm a huge Little Mermaid fan (I know all the words to all the songs from watching it hundreds of times when my little sister was a toddler) and I still cry when Ariel and her father embrace at the end of the movie, so meeting Jodi was such a great moment.

I saw so many new and exciting things on my latest Disney trip, I have so split them up into several posts! Stay tuned for my review of Disney's California Adventure's newest ride, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, as well as reviews of the new Star Tours ride, the new Disneyland summer parade, the renovated Disneyland Hotel, and all the newest ways the Disneyland Resort is making this summer the most Soundsational ever.

Disclosure: I received a media invitation to attend the opening of Star Tours and other events. Transportation, lodging and park tickets were provided by Disneyland Resort Public Relations. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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