Sunday, January 9, 2011
Flounder's Lost Twin: Disney and Jim Henson Present Little Mermaid's Island
Flounder from Disney's The Little Mermaid has a twin sister named Sandy. Ariel and her friends rarely talk about her.
They also hardly ever mention their friend, Scales the Dragon. Scales lives in a cave and is a musician.
Sandy and Scales were new characters created for a 1990 Disney Channel series called "Little Mermaid's Island." This series featured a live actress playing Ariel and puppet versions of Sebastian, Flounder, Scuttle, and their friends. Puppet versions of Disney characters were not new to Disney Channel viewers. "Dumbo's Circus" and "Welcome to Pooh Corner" had been entertaining children for years. "Little Mermaid's Island," however, was a collaboration between Disney and Jim Henson.
"The Little Mermaid" was a big hit for Disney in 1989, so naturally, spin-off projects were considered. "Little Mermaid's Island" was not picked up by the Disney Channel. The stories developed for the series, however, were adapted for a collection of storybooks.
"The Little Mermaid's Treasure Chest" (really? Who approved that title?) brought Ariel's adventures with Sandy and Scales to young readers.
Ariel and Sebastian did end up getting their own television series, but it was a hand-drawn animated series. "The Little Mermaid" was launched as a CBS Saturday Morning series in 1992. This was a prequel to the animated film. It had nothing to do with "Little Mermaid's Island."
Sebastian the Crab was also featured in another 1992 CBS series, "Disney's Raw Toonage." Sebastian short cartoons were also seen in "Marsupilami," the 1993 Disney CBS Saturday Morning series.
A live action Ariel teamed with puppet versions of Sebastian, Flounder and the gang did show up in "The Voyage of the Little Mermaid" attraction at the Disney MGM Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida in 1992. The puppets used for this show had no connection to "Little Mermaid's Island."
This picture is from a big 1992 Walt Disney World advertising section from USA Today (USA Today always had such great pictures).
Flounder, Ariel and Sebastian from "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" can be seen here. The show is still running after all these years, though the park is now called "Disney's Hollywood Studios."
"Dinosaurs," which was a Disney/Jim Henson collaboration from 1991, were featured at The Disney MGM Studios. The versions of the characters seen here did not have moving mouths or eyes (that would have been impressive!).
"Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3D" debuted at the Disney MGM Studios in 1991. The show is still entertaining visitors in Florida. Muppetvision 3D can also be seen at Disney's California Adventure theme park at the Disneyland Resort (it opened there in 2001).
The Muppet versions of Sandy and Scales from "Little Mermaid's Island" look a bit different from the illustrations in the "Little Mermaid's Treasure Chest" books. Be sure to check out the Muppet Wiki Little Mermaid's Island page to see pictures of the puppets and learn more about the show.
It would be nice if this lost Little Mermaid project could be included as an extra on a DVD as a "Bonus Treasure."