Little Mermaid Trivia, Goofs and other movie facts

Little Mermaid Trivia, Goofs and other movie facts
  • This was the last Disney animated feature to use hand-painted cels and analog camera and film work (more info: Animation Cels). 1,000 different colors were used on 1,100 backgrounds. Over one million drawings were done in total.
  • Disney artists had considered an animated film of "The Little Mermaid" in the late 1930s, and illustrator Kay Nielsen prepared a number of striking story sketches in pastels and watercolors. For this film, the artists received inspiration from the Nielsen story sketches that were brought out of the Archives for them to study, and they gave Kay Nielsen a "visual development" credit on the film.
  • Another first for recent years: Live actors and actresses were filmed for reference material for the animators. Sherri Stoner acted out Ariel's key scenes. Not all of Disney's animators approved the use of live-action reference; Glen Keane said in an interview with the Orange County Register that one artist quit the project rather than work with live-action reference. Sherri Stoner was the live-action model for Ariel.
  • This film was the most effects-animation heavy Disney animated feature since Fantasia. The two minute storm sequence alone took 10 special effects animators over a year to finish.
  • The directors insisted that every one of the millions of bubbles should be hand-drawn, not Xeroxed. The sheer manpower for such an effort required Disney to farm out most of the bubble-drawing to Pacific Rim Productions, a China-based firm with production facilities in Beijing.
  • The student uprising in Beijing, China, threatened to delay production. Roughly one-third of the finished cel artwork used by the Chinese artists as underlays for drawing the bubbles, were in a vault only a few blocks away from the demonstration at Tienamin Square and the violence that followed.
We have some of the Hidden Mickeys in Little Mermaid on a separate page...
  • Ariel's liplines were created with hand-inking.
  • The last shot of the film where Ariel and Eric sail away into the sunset, is the first time the CAPS system is used on a Disney animated film. The CAPS system did away with hand inking the cells and let the filmmakers scan images into a computer and later place over a scanned -in painted background. Before this, both painted cell and background had to be shot simultaneously.
  • An attempt to use Disney's famed multi-plane camera for the first time in years for quality "depth" shots failed because the machine, always a monster to use because of its sheer size, is in dilapidated condition. The multi-plane shots were farmed out to another studio.
  • Some versions of the videotape had the likeness of a portion, male anatomy on the cover. It's the highest tower in the middle of the castle in the background.
  • Ariel's treasure cave includes the painting "Magdalene With the Smoking Flame" by 17th-century artist Georges de La Tour.
  • In the opening scene when King Triton arrives at the arena, you can briefly see Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck in the crowd of sea-people as mermen when he passes over them.
  • This movie marks Disney's comeback from a 10-year financial slump catalyzed by the failure of The Black Hole.
  • The character of Ursula was based on Divine.
  • When Ursula first shows Ariel the contract, it quickly scrolls through the body of the text. This is the actual text shown on the scroll: "I hereby grant unto Ursula, the witch of the sea... , one voice, in exchange for byon once high, Dinu*gihn thon Mueo serr on Puur-qurr I rehd moisn petn r m uenre urpti m srerp monk guaki ,Ch rich noy ri imm ro mund for all eternity. signed," All other instances clearly say: "I hereby grand unto Ursula, the witch of the sea... , one voice, for all eternity. signed,"
  • There was a widespread rumor in the early- to mid-'90s that the priest in the wedding scene has "less than pure" thoughts. He doesn't - in fact the shot is of the priest's knee moving underneath his tunic - but this didn't deter enraged moralists from strenuous protest (even to the extent of filing at least one lawsuit against Disney) and there are claims that the "offending" shot has been removed from newer releases of the film.
  • Sebastian the Crab's full name is Horatio Thelonius Ignatius Crustatious Sebastian.
    When Ben Wright got the part of Grimsby, Prince Eric's butler, the current Disney folks had no idea that he had been the voice of Roger in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He had to tell them.
  • Ariel's sisters names are Aquatta, Andrina, Arista, Adella, Alana and Attina.
  • In Greek mythology, the God of the Sea is Poseidon. Triton, however, is one of his sons.
  • The Little Mermaid is the last Disney film using the xerography process, invented by Ub Iwerks, which had been used since One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
  • This was the first Disney film to receive an Academy Award since Bedknobs and Broomsticks, though other films had been nominated.
  • Notice how Scuttle looks exactly like the Albatross in "The Rescuers"?
  • The name of the human woman that Ursula transforms herself into is Vanessa.
  • A few of the backgrounds used during the "Kiss the Girl" scene are
    Little Mermaid on rock
    taken from The Rescuers.
  • There are several shots of Ariel, forlornly sitting on a rock, in a pose reminiscent of the "Little Mermaid" statue that sits in Copenhagen harbor.

When Scuttle is providing "vocal romantic stimulation" to Eric and Ariel while they are rowing in the lagoon, he is actually squawking his own version of Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet".


  • Just before Grim uncovers Eric's statue, the shirt of a sailor behind him changes color.
  • While in the castle of Prince Eric, Ariel lies down on a bed for the first time. Cut to Sebastian talking. Cut back to Ariel asleep on top of the covers. Next, Sebastian jumps on the bed, and Ariel is shown asleep under the covers.
  • Before jumping off the dock to swim to the boat, Ariel is barefoot. When she gets to the boat and climbs onto the deck she is wearing shoes.
  • After Sebastian discovers Ariel's treasure cove and gets tangled up in her assorted findings, he gets a thimble stuck on his feet. The thimble subsequently disappears and reappears between shots.
  • When Ursula is on the boat right before her wedding to Eric she steps on the makeup table while she talks to herself in the mirror. In doing so she cracks a round crystal ball with her foot. But in the previous scene there was no such ball on the table.
  • When King Triton discovers Ariel's treasure cove, he destroys the statue of Eric. While it is breaking apart, a close up of the face shows cracks crawling across the entire face. However, later, when Flotsam and Jetsam are in the cove, they flick the face - now completely intact - to Ariel.
  • After Ariel and flounder escape from the shark, Ariel has a bag over her shoulder but when Ursula is watching from her cave the bag is gone.
  • When Sebastian is trying to escape from Louie the chef, he runs under a shelf of glassware, pots, and bowls. When we see Louie running towards the shelf, he is holding a butcher knife in his right hand. Then when we his reflection in one of the bowls in front of him, the butcher knife is reflected in the wrong hand (his left hand).
  • When Ariel saved Eric and was singing in front of him, Eric starts to wake up and then the dog barks, and Ariel looks quickly at the left and goes away. But the dog comes from the right.
  • Just before Grim uncovers Eric's statue, one of the sailors behind of him has a striped shirt, but when Grim walks by him, it flashes to solid blue.
  • When Ariel is singing "Part of Your World", she is laying on the sand and when she gets up her hair parts on the right side of her head. Then all of a sudden it is parted on the left side.
  • At the end of the movie a rainbow is shown with the correct colors but with their order inverted.
  • The trim on Ariel's wedding dress goes from green to pink, then back to green and stays that color for the rest of the scene.
  • When Ariel first enters her grotto she closes the door behind her, but when she swims out the door is already open.
  • When Ariel is eating with Grim and Eric, her fork changes back and forth from three prongs to four prongs.
  • When Ariel is spying on Eric for the first time, at the unveiling of his birthday statue, his dog Max comes up and licks Ariel on the right side of her face. Moments later she wipes the slobber off the left side of her face.
  • When Ursula is talking to Ariel for the first time, she sits down at her mirror to apply some makeup - when she looks at Ariel, she has on lipstick, but in the next shot, she has none and is applying it from a clam.
  • When Ariel's voice is freed from the conch shell and floats over to her, she is barefoot. In the next full shot of her, she is wearing shoes.
  • As Ariel and Eric swim toward each other right before the enormous Ursula rises above the sea they exchange dialogue: "Eric, you've got to get away from here," "No, I won't leave you," but their lips never move.
  • When Ariel escapes through the porthole she does not have a bag on her shoulder. In the next shot she does. When Ariel drops the bag to save Flounder from the shark, we do not see the bag until she picks it up off the floor.
  • When Arial sees a fork in a sunken ship for the first time, the fork has four tines. When Arial takes it, it has only three.
  • During the song "Under the sea" a flower in Arial's hair disappears (after the yellow fish whirl around her) and reappears later.
  • When Arial sits down at the table and takes a fork, her nails are covered with pink varnish. Later no varnish is seen.
  • In the very beginning when king Triton comes to the hall for the celebration the chandelier is already lit but he lights it again.
  • When the crown falls off Trion's head it has eight prongs instead of usual five.
  • When Prince Eric and Max the dog are first seen, the ship's balustrade that Max's paws are resting on is clearly visible through his paws.
  • When Grimsby is talking to Eric at the dining table about taking Ariel out for a day on the town, there are plates in front of all of them. But when Carlotta brings the food they have no plates in front of them.

The idea to give Ursula a pair of sneaky, identical pets as henchmen was inspired by Madame Medusa's two alligators (also identical and with similar personality traits), Brutus and Nero from Disney's The Rescuers (1977).

Scheduling conflicts with Star Trek: The Next Generation forced Patrick Stewart to turn down the role of King Triton.

Carlotta, Eric's maid at the castle who bathes Ariel and serves dinner is wearing the same outfit from Cinderella (1950), except for the scarf on her head.

When Eric is waiting for Ariel to arrive one of the portraits is that of Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty (1959).

During Eric's alleged wedding to Vanessa, the King and Grand Duke from Cinderella (1950) both make appearances.
While writing "Part of Your World", Alan Menken and Howard Ashman discovered that the song shared contextual and rhythmic similarities between "Somewhere That's Green"; a song from their earlier musical, Little Shop of Horrors (1986). Afterward, they nicknamed "Part of Your World" as "Somewhere That's Dry".


  • Scuttle: I haven't seen this in years, this is wonderful.
    Ariel: What is it?
    Scuttle: A banded, bulbous snarfblatt.
    Ariel & Flounder: Ooooooh.
    Scuttle: Now the snarfblatt dates back to prehysterical times when humans used to sit around and stare at each other all day. Got very boring. So they invented this snarfblatt to make fine music.

  • Ursula: Yeeeeeees, hurry home, princess. We wouldn't want to miss old Daddy's celebration, now, would we? Huh! Celebration indeed. Bah! In *my* day, we had fantastical feasts when I lived in the palace. And now, look at me - wasted away to practically nothing - banished and exiled and practically starving, while he and his flimsy fish-folk celebrate. Well, I'll give 'em something to celebrate soon enough. Flotsam! Jetsam! I want you to keep an extra close watch on this pretty little daughter of his. She may be the key to Triton's undoing. . . .

  • Triton: And *you* are just the crab to do it.

  • [Ariel's turned herself into a human]
    Sebastian: Just look at her! On legs! On human legs!
    Sebastian: My nerves are shot. This is a catastrophe! What would her father say? I'll tell you what her father'd say. He'd say he's gonna kill himself a crab, that's what her father'd say! I'm gonna march meself home and tell him right this minute
    [Ariel scoops him up and starts shaking her head frantically]
    Sebastian: and *don't* you shake your head at me, young lady! Maybe there's still time. If we could get that witch to give you back your voice, you could go home with all the normal fish and just be...
    [Ariel's face falls]
    Sebastian: just be... just be miserable for the rest of your life.
    [sighs, defeated]
    Sebastian: Alright, alright, I'll try to help you find that prince.
    [Ariel, overjoyed, kisses him]
    Sebastian: Boy. What a softshell I'm turning out to be.

  • Sebastian: Will you get your head out of the clouds and back in the water where it belongs.

  • Ariel: You're not getting cold fins now, are you?

  • Ariel: I've never seen a human this close before. Oh - he's very handsome, isn't he?
    [Looking at Max, Eric's dog] Scuttle: I dunno, he looks kinda hairy and slobbery to me.

  • Ariel: Is he - dead?
    [Opens Eric's eyelid] Scuttle: It's hard to say.
    [Puts his ear against Eric's foot]
    Scuttle: Oh, I - I can't make out a heartbeat.

  • [singing] Sebastian: The seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake.

  • Sebastian: Somebody's got to nail that girl's fins to the floor.

  • [Adoring a statue of Eric]
    Ariel: It looks just like him. It even has his eyes. "Why, Eric, run away with you? This is all so - so *sudden*..."

  • Ariel: If I become human, I'll never be with my father or sisters again.
    Ursula: That's *right*. But - you'll have your man. Life's full of tough choices, innit?

  • Sebastian: Jeez, man, I'm surrounded by amateurs. You want something done, you've got to do it yourself.

  • Sebastian: Are you sure about this?
    Scuttle: Have I ever been wrong? I mean when it's important.

  • Sebastian: Hm. Teenagers. They think they know everything. You give them an inch, they swim all over you.

  • [Ariel wants to know how she'll talk once she's given Ursula her voice]
    Ursula: You've got your looks... your pretty face... and don't underestimate the importance of "bo-dy lan-guage."

  • Sebastian: Like I always say, Your Majesty, "children have got to be free to lead their own lives."
    Triton: *You* always say that, Sebastian?
    [nervous] Sebastian: Tee-hee.
    Triton: Well... I guess there's one problem left.
    Sebastian: And what's that, Your Majesty?
    Triton: How much I'm going to miss her.

  • Scuttle: It's a dinglehopper. Humans use these little babies... to straighten their hair out. See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You've got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.

  • Ariel: Flounder, don't be such a guppy.

  • [breathlessly] Scuttle: I was flyin' - of course I was flyin' - and I saw the... the watch - the witch, was watchin' a mirror and she was singin' with a stolen set of pipes. Do you hear what I'm tellin' you?
    [picks up Sebastian and slams him down on every word]
    Scuttle: The prince... is marryin'... the sea witch... in disguise.

  • Scuttle: We're out to discover.

  • [singing] Ariel: Up where they walk/up where they run/up where they stay all day in the sun/Wanderin' free/wish I could be/Part of that world...

  • Sebastian: This has got to be, without a doubt, the single most humiliating day of my life!
    [Ariel pats him on the head]
    Sebastian: I hope that you appreciate what I go through for you, young lady! Now, we got to make a plan to get that boy to kiss you. Tomorrow, when he takes you for that ride, you gotta look your best! You gotta bat your eyes like this
    [does so]
    Sebastian: , you gotta pucker up your lips like this...
    [does so, notices that Ariel has fallen asleep. He sighs, and blows out the candle]
    Sebastian: You are hopeless, child. You know that. Completely hopeless.

  • Ariel: There he is! Isn't he handsome?
    [Scuttle looks at the dog and scratches his neck]
    Scuttle: I don't know, he looks kind of hairy and slobbery.
    Ariel: No, not that one. The one playing the snarfblatt.

  • [first lines]
    Prince Eric: Isn't this great? The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face... aaah, the perfect day to be at sea!
    [leaning over rail] Grimsby: Oh, yes... urp... delightful.

  • [last lines]
    Ariel: I love you, Daddy.

  • Ursula: Now, here's the deal. I will make you a potion that will turn you into a human for three days. Got that? Three days. Now listen, this is important. Before the sun sets on the third day, you've got to get dear ol' princey to fall in love with you. That is, he's got to kiss you. Not just any kiss - the kiss of true love. If he does kiss you before the sun sets on the third day, you'll remain human, permanently, but - if he doesn't, you turn back into a mermaid, and - you belong to me.