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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!


  1. Good stuff Dan. I really like the artwork on the cover of The Disney Channel Magazine. And on the covers to the Disney Catalog.

    It's hard to beat that Laurenz sculpture. There are some nice Snow White pieces that were created by Enzo Arzenton, but this sure captures the moment!

  2. Thanks, A Snow White Sanctum!

    Yup, there's been some great Mermaid artwork and merchandise over the years.

    I agree, those Enzo Arzenton sculptures are amazing!

  3. ...and the Laurenz Ursula sculpture is spectacular, too!

  4. Once again, I really like your idea for a seasonal overlay on the Mermaid attraction. They should follow your plans right down to every detail!

    That Flounder character walking on Main St. looks pretty scary. Did they really have that character out for guest to interact with or do you think it was just used for publicity and advertising stuff?

  5. Thanks, TokyoMagic! I would love it if Disneyland in California would bring my Little Mermaid Holiday SEAson to life.

    Walking Flounder has been in parades, shows and parties at the parks, but I don't think he has done Meet and Greets. I have seen Nemo do a Meet and Greet at Epcot (Nemo is on wheels, sort of like a parade float).

  6. TokyoMagic!: Yeah, I don't think the wheels are visible, but the Meet and Greet Nemo is sort of like the Alice in Wonderland Snails and Turtles in the Electrical Parade.