17 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Little Mermaid’

Lilian Min

The iconic tune "Part of Your World" is as memorable as that little mermaid herself. But did you know that the classic Disney tune was almost cut from the wildly popular 1989 animated film?

"The Little Mermaid" is back in theaters this weekend, but if you think you know the classic film through and through, think again. When you're not busy following the movie on your iPad, mull on these film factoids:

1. There are plenty of Disney canon cameos (and one Muppet).

You may already know about the smattering of hidden Mickey Mouses throughout the film, but less obvious are the many familiar Disney faces scattered in some of "The Little Mermaid's" crowd scenes. While the most obvious ones are Mickey, Goofy, and Donald Duck — during King Triton's entrance — there are also a couple of "Snow White" dwarfs and even Kermit the Frog!

Also, during the wedding between Eric and "Vanessa," when the camera pans around the crowd, you can find the King and Duke from "Cinderella."

2. Ursula was based on Madame Medusa from "The Rescuers" and cinema drag queen icon Divine.

One can only imagine that she's John Waters's favorite Disney villain.

3. The voice of Ursula was supposed to be Bea Arthur, but she dropped out of the film due to "Golden Girls" conflicts.

Fun fact: Pat Carroll, the woman who voiced Ursula, played evil sister Prunella in the TV movie adaptation of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella."

4. The voice of King Triton was supposed to be Patrick Stewart, but he dropped out of the film due to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" conflicts.

The eventual voice actor, Kenneth Mars, also voiced Littlefoot's grandfather in "The Land Before Time."

5. Sebastian was originally supposed to have an English accent.

Good thing they dropped that idea: The bubbly, Caribbean-inspired "Under the Sea" won an Oscar for Best Song.

6. While Ariel's body and personality were based on a young Alyssa Milano, her physical model inspired her movements.

The actual body model for Ariel was "Tiny Toons Adventures" script writer Sherri Stoner, who was also the body model for Belle in "Beauty and the Beast."

7. Ariel's mom's name is Queen Athena.

Neither Triton nor Athena are referenced properly from the original Greek gods after whom they're named. Triton is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, whereas Athena is the goddess of wisdom, civilization, mathematics, and strategy, among other things, and was never married nor did she live underwater.

8. In deleted scenes from the film, it's strongly suggested that Ursula is King Triton's sister.

In the "Little Mermaid" Broadway adaptation, this fact is included in the storyline.

9. Jodi Benson, who did both Ariel's speaking and singing voices, recorded "Part of Your World" with the studio lights turned down low to get a better underwater feel.

Yet, the song was almost cut from the final celluloid version because test audiences thought it slowed down the film.

10. The scenes where Ariel is on the rock in the ocean hearkens back to the famous "Little Mermaid" statue in Copenhagen's harbor.

Hans Christian Andersen, the man behind many popular fairy tales, including "The Little Mermaid," was Danish.

11. The voice actor for Prince Eric was only 16-years-old.

That almost makes it less creepy that Eric ended up marrying the very, very young Ariel.

12. Ariel was made a red head so that she wouldn't be confused with Daryl Hannah's mermaid in "Splash."

While Disney had the rights to the Little Mermaid story since the 1930s, the film still almost didn't get made because the studio was working on a "Splash" sequel.

13. If you think the film's famous storm sequence is fantastic, guess how long it took to make it.

It took a team of 10 animators an entire year to finish one 10 minute sequence.

14. Ariel's underwater hair animation was based on a video of astronaut Sally Ride's hair in space.

So that's why her head is in the clouds.

15. Ariel is only occasionally drawn with fingernails.

As a mermaid, she doesn't have any. When she gets on land, she only sporadically has them. Look closely next time you watch.

16. ABC's "Once Upon a Time," which draws from the Disney canon for its characters, is adding Ariel next season.

She'll be played by actress Joanna García.

17. Flounder is definitely not a flounder.

He's more like a juvenile Atlantic blue tang. (Hey, guess who else is a blue tang...)