The Little Mermaid dark ride is now officially open in the Magic Kingdom. Today I will be taking a look at the differences between this version and the one that opened a year and a half earlier in Disney California Adventure. Both attractions are mostly the same, but they each have minor differences that make each one unique.
DCA: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure - Magic Kingdom: Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
For some reason, the name for the attraction was changed for East coast version. Personally I think both names are a bit long. But each convey the same idea: You’re joining Ariel and going under the sea.
The DCA exterior features 20th-century architecture to match the area of the park the attraction is located in, Paradise Pier. The building has many beautiful details such as mermaids sculpted in to the walls and a brass King Triton on the highest point of the building. The Magic Kingdom exterior is made up of a recreation of Prince Eric’s castle surrounded by rocks, flowing water and a ship wreck. The Magic Kingdom’s exterior is much better looking than the one found in DCA but luckily both match their surroundings perfectly.
The DCA attraction features a short, no frills queue that takes place mostly indoors. It also has a covered overflow queue outside that is rarely used. The Magic Kingdom version resembles a cave and features beautiful rock work to match the exterior of the attraction. It’s a good thing the Magic Kingdom has such a nice queue because you will be spending a lot of time in it. Due to MK’s higher attendance and the use of Fastpass we’ve seen waits of over 90 minutes on busy days. Compare this to the attraction in Disney California Adventure where you’ll probably wait less than 10 minutes on most days.
There are only minor differences between the actual ride portions of the attraction. Both use the same omnimover ride vehicles (shaped like clams), both have a duration of a little over 6 minutes, and both feature the same animatronics and scenes in the same locations.
The minor differences:
In Disney California Adventure there is a hidden character in the Under the Sea scene not found in the Magic Kingdom version. Just after you see Ariel in this portion of the ride you will see a single fish with glasses hidden behind some seaweed. This fish is Mr. Limpet, from the 1964 film “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.” The Magic Kingdom version of the ride features a slightly different Ursula death scene. Physically the two Ursulas appear the same (where Ursula has her hands clutched and is screaming). The Ursula that appears in MK has a new lighting effect that adds extra emphasis to the fact that she has been defeated.
Overall you can’t go wrong with the Little Mermaid attraction in either park. As I said before, both match their surroundings, whether it be the 20th-century boardwalk in DCA, or the storybook village in Magic Kingdom. While it may not be the biggest or most impressive ride in Disney’s line up, it is another quality dark ride with appeal to most ages and a huge hourly capacity.