Little Mermaid Ride Premiere & Interview with Jodi Benson, the Voice of Ariel

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Ariel, one of Disney’s most beloved princesses, is being immortalized in her very own ride at Disney’s California Adventure Park. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure opened on June 3, 2011 amid much excitement and very long lines. I was lucky to take a spin on this new attraction and even luckier to meet with Jodi Benson, who plays the voice of Ariel in both the movies and the ride.

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The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure Ride

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Ride

Take a Ride with the Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is located along the edge of Paradise Pier, across from the “World of Color” nighttime show and Ariel’s Grotto restaurant. Riders take off on a make-believe journey aboard a clamshell. Physically challenged riders can choose to stay seated in wheelchairs, boarding specially designed, fancy schmancy King Triton chariots instead of transferring.

Ursula the Sea Witch in Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Ursula the Sea Witch in Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Old and New School with Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

I was half-expecting there to be a fish-filled aquarium similar to Disney World’s the Seas with Nemo and Friends. However, the water on this ride is imaginary. Ariel’s Undersea Adventure has an old school feel like the dark rides in Fantasyland, but with modern technology and touches. The movie’s characters all make appearances. You’ll see Ursula, Flounder, Sebastian, and Ariel’s father, King Triton. Little girls will swoon over the ride’s final scene, the wedding of Ariel and her Prince Eric.

Ariel's Undersea Adventure Opening Ceremony

Broadway’s Original Ursula, Sherie Rene Scott singing “Poor Unfortunate Souls”

An Opening Ceremony to Sing About

At the rides opening ceremony, Jodi Benson sweetly sang the cartoon movie’s wistful song, “Part of Your World”. Jodi looks somewhat similar to Ariel, with long curls and a petite frame. Sherie Rene Scott, the original Broadway voice of the evil Sea Witch, Ursula, belted out “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. Sherie is the antithesis to the scary octopus character. She’s a svelte blond beauty with a killer voice. The movie’s original voice of Ursula, Pat Carroll, was also in attendance.

Ariel's Undersea Adventure Opening Ceremony Finale

Jodi Benson, Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Skaggs, and Sheri Rene Scott in the Opening Ceremony Finale

Jodi Benson – Bringing Ariel to Life

After the ceremony, I got the opportunity to interview Jodi Benson. She plays the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid movies, the voice of Barbie in the Toy Story movies, and Sam in Enchanted. As a child, Jody, “always, always, always” dreamed of being a professional singer. She insisted her debut ride aboard Ariel’s Undersea Adventure be with her husband and two children. She said, “I wanted to experience this for the first time with my family.”

Jodi Benson - Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel

When asked about her gown, Jodi said she bought it from a local dress maker in her small hometown in Georgia. She told the shop owner she needed a dress for the opening of the new Disney Little Mermaid ride, and he told her, “I think I have just the thing.” You would think it was made specifically for this event. It’s a full-length gown swirling with ocean-inspired colors and adorned with crystals fit for a princess.

On the day of the ride’s opening ceremony Jodi’s daughter, Delaney, was dressed up in her Ariel costume and sporting an “It’s my birthday” Disney pin in honor of her upcoming tenth birthday. When I asked what her kids think about their mom being the voice of Ariel, she said, “It’s unbelievable to them. They get it. They know they are so incredibly blessed.” Jodi also bubbled about her role as homeschool teacher to Delaney and her 12-year-old son, McKinley.

Colleen Lanin and Jodi Benson - Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Here I am posing with Jodi Benson (Note to self: wear more makeup when taking photos with beautiful Hollywood types!)

A Dream Day for Little Mermaid Fanatics

As a birthday bonanza for the the Little Mermaid fan in your life, take your princess to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disneyland’s Fantasyland for an Ariel makeover complete with red hair extensions and glitter galore. Then set sail on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure to ooh and ahh at the romantic scenes and darling undersea characters.

Next, dine at Ariel’s Grotto with a royal selection of Disney princesses like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle. All diners get a chance to meet Ariel and pose for a photo with the Little Mermaid. Top off the evening with a viewing of “World of Color” ~ which includes music and images from the movie,The Little Mermaid.

Ariel's Grotto - Ariel's Undersea Adventure

My daughter with the namesake character at Ariel’s Grotto

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Who is your favorite character from The Little Mermaid? Let us know in the comments!

A Note from The Travel Mama: I received complimentary entrance to the Disneyland Resort Parks and accommodations to participate in a two-day media event surrounding the opening of The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and other new Disney attractions. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Joni Grossfield says

    This is wonderful and so much fun to read. I hope we can go there again when we come to California next year!

  2. It sounds like Disney has made a wonderful addition to the “happiest place on earth.”

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