Can you ever have too much mermaid? That is the very question we’re asking today. The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been a staple of the park since 1992. Three years after Ariel swam into our hearts, Disney brought the live-action show to the area formerly known as Animation Courtyard at Hollywood Studios. Combining live actors, puppets, and an array of special effects, the show retold the story of the animated classic. Fast-forward twenty-eight years the question comes will The Voyage of the Mermaid show exit stage-left?
For years, rumors circled around The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show making way for something “new”. We’ve heard everything from it being the potential location of the interchangeable ride concept to part of a potential Pixar Land. The rumor started poping again in April 2020 when it was reported Disney was taking pictures of the show props to catalog everything for the archives. When the show did not reopen with the rest of Hollywood Studios in July of 2020 it just furthered the rumor.
By fall The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show billboard was removed from the building. All signs pointed to a change ahead. Well, at least for a few days. Less than a week later, a new billboard was installed and it raised the question of whether or not the show would return on a future date. What changed?
The Potential Change
Live-action. For the past decade-plus, Disney has been making its way through its catalog of animated movies to remake them as “live-action”. Which movie is next on the filming docket? Drumroll please, The Little Mermaid. As of writing, the movie is in pre-production with filming scheduled to start December 2020 in London. From our understanding, the film crew is already on set and ready to begin. It’s unknown when the movie will be released to theaters, especially, with all the shifting of release dates due to COVID.
With an all-star cast, the movie is a buzz. Rumors around the film have been popping up at a feverish rate. This could be an indication of how the movie could do in theaters. It may follow in the footsteps of the live-action Lion King and be a billion-dollar earner.
What It Could Mean
Return of the mermaid? That very well may be the case. According to Jim Hill, of Jim Hill Media, the idea around updating The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show to reflect the live-action version is under consideration. A lot, if not everything, could hinge on the overall success of the movie, as well as the soundtrack. With R&B singer Halle Bailey set to play Ariel, we could see a soundtrack on par with the likes of Frozen. It would be hard for Disney to ignore that type of success, especially, at the parks.
To further the idea of an updated version of The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show is the current state of Disney. As the company looks to rebound from the financial impact of COVID it would be easier to update the show over building a new attraction or land. While the long-term plans may have the show making way for a larger concept, there could be a short-term win with an updated show. It’s well-known that Hollywood Studios would benefit from more shows to help alleviate the long lines of the headline attractions. Based on the overall success of A Frozen Singalong, Disney could do a similar concept with The Little Mermaid.
Most importantly, if live-action Little Mermaid is a success it would make the movie a multi-generationally fan favorite. As the parents of the current generation of little ones also grew up singing along with Ariel. Even more reason for more mermaid.
The time has come. For what? That’s what we’ll have to wait to find out. Doing a quick review of Disney’s release schedule, there’s a slot for a live-action movie premiere on November 19, 2021. Whether or not it’s for the Little Mermaid is unknown. It may have to be used for the live-action version of Cruella, starring Emma Stone. A lot will depend on how Disney handles theatrical releases in 2021. Ultimately, there are many moving parts as it relates to The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show. We would be excited to at least see an updated version in the near term. All we know is once the movie has its day in the sun, we should have a better idea of what to expect.
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