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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Disney's The Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson

It's time to put the starfish on top of the coral tree. Santa Claws is swimming to town!

The publicity artwork shown on the cover of this issue of The Disney Channel Magazine featuring Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder is the first image I remember seeing of the characters. I first saw this artwork in the pages of The Disney Channel magazine prior to the film's November 1989 release.

When I saw Ariel and her friends for the first time, I thought of the 1987 mermaid episode of Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears TV show (called "Water Way to Go," featuring a mermaid named Aquarianne).

The Little Mermaid made a big splash when it debuted in November of 1989, and was a hit with film critics.

Much of the success of the movie can be attributed to the fantastic songs created by lyricist Howard Ashman (of "Little Shop of Horrors" fame) and composer Alan Menken.

At this time, I can remember watching the Tracey Ullman show specifically to see the hilarious short animated clips featuring The Simpsons. This article in USA Today about the animation industry in 1989 is a very interesting read.

In the early 1990s, I do remember hearing people say that someday hand drawn animated movies would be replaced by computer animation. That is sort of what happened.

As part of the release of The Little Mermaid, McDonald's had Happy Meal toys to promote the film, and they also sold plush ornaments of Sebastian and Flounder.

With his ear muffs, scarf and snowflake gloves, the Sebastian ornament is pretty elaborate, especially for a fast food plush item. This Sebastian ornament is missing a pink tongue (a decal like the snowflakes on his gloves) that cracked and flaked off years ago.

The ornament boxes feature some great artwork.

This image of Flounder was used frequently on merchandise.

McDonald's had previously sold plush ornaments for Disney's 1988 film, Oliver and Company. The plush Oliver and Dodger ornaments played music. Oliver played Jingle Bells and Dodger played Frosty the Snowman.

The Sebastian and Flounder ornaments should have played music! Sebastian should have played "Under the Sea" and Flounder could have played "Kiss The Girl."

Sebastian is such a great character. He can live in the water or on land and he sings!

Sebastian was also the spokes-character for a new McDonald's item called McCrab Cakes.

He wasn't really. Wouldn't that be twisted? It would sort of be like Foghorn Leghorn being the mascot for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Oh, wait. That actually DID happen!

I thought it was incredibly creative and fresh to see Christmas ornaments of a crab and a fish.

Macy's offered an exclusive plush toy of Prince Eric's dog, Max.

Back then, Premier Cruise Lines was the Official Cruise Line of Walt Disney World. My, how times have changed!

The Little Mermaid was a huge merchandising hit.

By 1990, there were all sorts of items featuring Ariel and her friends for sale in the Disney Catalog.

For 1994, Sebastian the crab played Santa Claws, the famous Snow Crab who delivers treasures to all the good fish folk.

Is Ariel on the Nice List or the Naughty List?

Santa Claws got many of his Little Mermaid gifts from the Disney Catalog, from 1990 to 2005.

It's time to go fathoms below into the world of Mermaid Merchandise Mania.

Santa Claws might bring you a music box, a watch, or a mermaid toothbrush.

It looks like Ariel fed Flounder some steroid-laced fish flakes.

Before you could play games on your phone, kids had Tiger Electronics hand-held games.

Don't laugh! This was high-tech. There's that image of Flounder seen on the McDonald's Christmas ornament Box.

There was even a collection of Pro Set Little Mermaid Baseball Cards. Did you get Sebastian D. Crab, short stop for the Devil Rays?

OK, they were not exactly baseball cards.

If a Loan Shark tells you he will make you sleep with the fishes, don't assume the worst.

That Loan Shark may have bought you some Little Mermaid bedding.

Here we see the official Disney Little Mermaid Plush Toys.

At the Disney Store, children would sometimes throw the smaller version of the Flounder toy like a football.

Ariel was featured on gadgets and gizmos aplenty.

She was on whosits and whatsits galore. Like this lamp!

To quote Sally's letter to Santa from "A Charlie Brown Christmas": "I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want. Please note the size and color of the items, and send as many as possible."

Sally continues, "If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself. Send money. How about tens and twenties?" Or a Sebastian medallion.

Were you an angelfish this year? If so, Santa Claws might bring you something shiny.

If you were shellfish or naughty, Santa Claws will bring you a lump of coral.

It's time to go Under Da Sea!

This snow globe is a bit different. Instead of snow, this has tiny plastic fish and dolphins!

The Walt Disney Classics Collection brought some of the Under the Sea characters to life as detailed sculptures.

These are prototypes of the figures.

Here's what the finished figures looked like.

These look like they jumped off the movie screen. They also give you an idea of what a 3D CGI version of The Little Mermaid might look like.

These sculptures are not cheap!

These look similar to the animated figures seen in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction at California Adventure in the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

If you were really good this year, maybe you'll see The Little Mermaid Car in your driveway.

Look, there's Flounder in the background! He's walking on Main Street and he's the size of Herbie the Love Bug, so he must be at Disneyland in California!

Here's some great stuff with some fishes! Don't believe me? Ask the dishes! Wait a minute, wrong movie...

These collector plates happen to show the four main segments of the Little Mermaid dark ride at California Adventure.

Tip the Penguin and Dash the Walrus would be the perfect hosts for a special Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson Christmas overlay for California Adventure's Mermaid attraction.

In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Tip the Penguin is voiced by Max Casella (from TV's Doogie Howser, M.D.) and Dash the Walrus is voiced by Stephen Furst (from TV's St. Elsewhere).

Tip and Dash could be featured with Scuttle in a snow-covered setting at the start of Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson. Like Haunted Mansion Holiday and Small World Holiday at Disneyland in California, the ride itself would not be changed, but the decor would be different.

Up first is Ariel's Grotto, filled with Christmas toys and Nutcrackers.

In the "Part of Your World" section of the Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson ride, the song is replaced by "Walking in a Winter Wonderland."

Ariel sings, "Later on, we'll conspire, as we dream by the---what's that word again?---fire!"

Flounder and Sebastian are dressed as elves in this scene.

Up next, it's time to go "Under the Sea."

This section of the ride is lit up by colorful jellyfish and a new seahorse carousel.

For the Under the Sea room, Sebastian the crab is dressed up as Santa Claws.

Instead of "Under the Sea," Sebastian sings the Andy Williams "The Holiday Season" song.

Up next, it's time to visit Ursula's Lair.

Instead of "Poor Unfortunate Souls," Ursula sings Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby." Imagine Ursula crooning "I've been an awful good girl!"

For the "Kiss the Girl" section, the song is now the Burl Ives classic, "A Holly Jolly Christmas."

Sebastian sings, "Oh, ho, the mistletoe, hung where you can see. Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me!"

The ride ends with the finale, featuring King Triton dressed as Santa Claus, being pulled in his chariot by 8 dolphins.

In the background, we hear "The Holiday Season" song playing again. Tip, Dash and Scuttle wish us a Happy Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson.

At Walt Disney World in Florida, the Little Mermaid dark ride ("Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid") will be opening in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Florida doesn't seem to do Christmas overlays, so I don't imagine they would participate with a Little Mermaid Holiday.

If they ever did, they could put Christmas twinkle lights and seashells all over Prince Eric's Castle and the grottos there.

Hopefully Santa Claws left something you can use in the summertime.

Summer is another big SEAson for Ariel.

Bring Ariel to life on the beach!

Make a Sandcastle of Triton's Castle! It's so easy, even a really lazy person can make one.

How about a game of Flounder Paddleball?

There's that image of Flounder from the Christmas Ornament Box again!

Summer Seas Ariel is probably the best three dimensional version of The Little Mermaid that I've seen.

She's got flowing hair and a crown made of utensils!

For Disney, The Little Mermaid is like a generous grama. She keeps giving them money!

I guess every SEAson is big for Ariel merchandise sales.

If you are really lucky, maybe Santa Claws will bring you the rare, original VHS tape of The Little Mermaid.

These are tough to find now. And I have one, and I think it' s probably worth something.

Santa Claws has a lot of work to do!

Treasure your Happy Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson, Mon!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas: Mickey Mouse For Your House

I've never been to Walt Disney World in Florida in December (one of the busiest times of the year for the Magic Kingdom) but I did grow up watching the Very Merry Christmas Parade on Christmas Day.

In 1993, I got a Holiday Flyer from Walt Disney World, which featured some great items that were exclusive to the Florida parks.

The arms and legs on the very animated Nutcracker Mickey ornament move when you pull his tail.

Back in 1993, Disney's Hollywood Studios was called Disney MGM Studios, and Santa visited Epcot for an International Holiday.

What's in the box that Mickey and Minnie are opening on the Disney MGM Studios ornament? I bet it's a giant Sorcerer's Hat.

Nothing oozes sex appeal quite like Candy Cane striped Ebenezer Scrooge pajamas with Mickey Mouse Ears.

Mickey, Goofy and Minnie entertain Walt Disney World Guests every single day of the year.

I was able see Walt Disney World decorated for the holidays for the first time in November of 2009. It really is amazing. It's a great time to see some Disney characters that are only at the parks during Christmas, including the famous Disney theme park Reindeer.

Walt Disney World features the ultra-rare White Reindeer! I never saw these variants of the goofy Reindeer during the Very Merry Christmas Parade on TV. Maybe they were only featured during the Jolly Holidays Dinner Show. I can't believe Disney hasn't made plush toys of these Reindeer.

The artist that created this 1993 Walt Disney World Pluto tie did a great job capturing the look of 1930s Disney cartoons.

Most cartoon Reindeer tend to look like Bambi-type deer. Not these guys! I think these are my favorite Disney Reindeer.

Mickey and Goofy pilot some less interesting looking reindeer for these decorations.

It's too bad someone in the merchandising department did not use the 1930s-looking Reindeer for these items, or the Reindeer characters used in the Christmas Parade.

Show your neighbors you are a Disney fanatic and put this stuff all over your house.

Vermin decorations are popular at Christmas.

The Walt Disney World parks show up on ornaments, too.

It's curious that there wasn't a Magic Kingdom Disc Ceramic Ornament, considering it's the most popular park in Florida.

Mickey and the Gang would love to decorate your tree.

Not shown is a "Donald on a Sleigh" ornament. I guess we'll never know what it looks like.

In 1993, there were no Pixar characters yet to be featured on Walt Disney World ornaments. It is rare for a character like Baloo to show up on much merchandise these days.

Get your Walt Disney World mug ready for Santa. Fill it with milk, or hot cocoa. Or maybe even Rum (Santa's had a long night).

Check your watch---Christmas is almost here.

Santa is messy. Better leave him a napkin so he doesn't get crumbs all over your house and attract some mice that are not as nice as Mickey.

Hang up your stockings and put on your Santa Mouse Ears.

Give Santa Claus a big Welcome and he'll leave you something cool.

Don't forget those cookies for Santa!

Mickey is a method actor, so he gains 30 pounds to play Santa.

Kids, you better grab a stuffed animal and get to bed, or Santa might pass you by.

Winnie the Pooh asked Santa Claus to bring the ride system from Tokyo Disneyland's "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" attraction to Walt Disney World in Florida. Naughty Winnie the Pooh stole some honey from some bees, so don't count on that gift!

Not a creature was stirring, except Santa Mickey and Minnie.

The world's largest mice are in your home. Don't worry, that is a good thing.

Soldier Mickey leads his troops to a victorious holiday celebration.

You can even have a VHS tape of a Walt Disney World Christmas. Hey, it's the White Reindeer on the cover!

Soldier Mickey Mouse battles the cold weather to make a cool Mickey Mouse Snowman.

I believe some of the Snowman Mickey plush toys played music.

Over the years (1990-2005), the Disney Catalog offered some great Christmas merchandise.

Snow in Florida? At Walt Disney World, anything can happen.

Whether you live in a house, an apartment, or in a van down by the river, you can celebrate Christmas at Walt Disney World in your home.

The Walt Disney World Railroad doesn't operate during the Parades, nor does it operate here.

At Disneyland in California, the It's a Small World attraction gets a holiday makeover. These ornaments represent Disneyland's version of the ride. This is California's hippo (yes, there is a difference!).

The Christmas Parade at Walt Disney World is full of toys, reindeer, gingerbread people and more.

Before Disney Pixar's Planes movie, there was Pedro the Plane, who has been featured on toys and on items like this Snowglobe.

Over the years, there have been many versions of the Mickey Mouse Nutcracker.

I know that at Disneyland in California, there was a Mickey's Nutcracker stage show, which at one point featured Ratigan from the animated film "The Great Mouse Detective" as the Mouse King (one of the best bits of casting ever, as Ratigan was a rat who called himself a mouse).

Mickey Mouse leads a Parade of Nutcrackers. No, it's not a mob of overly aggressive women, it's a cavalcade of Christmas decorations!

I guess Daisy Duck did not make the cut. She's probably too high-maintenance to be a soldier.

Nutcracker Minnie has had some wardrobe changes over the years as well.

All those years of Minnie dancing to the Mickey Mouse Club March song have paid off!

Goofy celebrates the holidays with son, Max.

Goofy leads the K-9 Unit of the Disney Nutcracker Soldiers.

Pluto is second in command.

Pluto would probably be the leader if he could talk.

Geppetto and Pinocchio represent Fantasyland.

If Geppetto carved Pinocchio, who carved Geppetto?

Even though Pinocchio is a compulsive liar, he will probably get something for Christmas.

Don't get too excited, Pinocchio. You'll be getting a Terminix Termite Bond.

Tinkerbell and Nutcracker Captain Hook make a truce for the holidays.

How are Santa's Reindeer able to fly? With Tink's help, of course!

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger make sure the Hundred Acre Wood is decorated for the holidays.

Nutcracker Pooh enjoys Honey Roasted Almonds.

Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey is very busy at Walt Disney World.

Sorcerer Mickey hosts the Mickey's Philharmagic 3D attraction at the Magic Kingdom, and the Fantasmic! night time show at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Scrooge McDuck and Mickey star in "Mickey's Christmas Carol," based on the Charles Dickens classic haunted holiday story.

Before the film debuted in 1983, there was a "Mickey's Christmas Carol" record album. This featured songs not used in the film.

Even though they are softies, Tigger and Pooh became soldiers, too!

The Parade of Disney Nutcrackers is ending.

A small group of the soldiers have decided to take over the Christmas Tree by force.

Don't let their cuteness fool you. These characters possess an awesome power.

Now that the Parade on Main Street is over, it is time to go window shopping.

The windows on Main Street are home to some animated Christmas displays.

Tigger, Pooh and Goofy entertain us with their wacky antics.

Pooh is eating cookies in bed. Those cookies were for Santa, Pooh!

It's now time to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Why isn't there a Main Street Electrical Christmas Parade?

Mickey and Minnie have been really busy, and are ready to relax with a few bottles of wine.

They'll have to leave the Magic Kingdom and go to Epcot.

Check your watch, because it looks like it's time for the Disney Parks to close.

Get back to your hotel and get to sleep, because soon it will be Christmas Day at Walt Disney World.

On Christmas Eve, Santa has a long night ahead of him. He's also got lots of hotels and parks to visit in Orlando.

Luckily, Mickey has set up a satellite toy shop in Florida for Santa.

Don't worry, Santa, Mickey has volunteered to help deliver Christmas presents, too!

This year, if you hear a creature stirring on Christmas Eve, know that it may be a mouse. And that mouse could be Mickey. So be sure to leave out a plate of cheese. Unless you live in an apartment in New York City. I hear rats can be a problem there.