The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Review – Disney California Adventure – Disneyland California

When we first rode the Little Mermaid ~ Ariels Undersea Adventure we had no idea the Rides Age, it felt like a real Disney classic and the sort of ride that would have been built for the Disneylands opening day back in 1955, but then the film was not released until 1989 and Disney California Adventure not opened until 2001 so it was clearly not a classic ride!

The ride actually only dates back to 2011 and was part of Disney’s re-opening of the California Adventure after the Parks dismal opening reception. So instead of an all-singing all-dancing super ride, Disney went back to their roots for a real old-School Dark Ride. Find out if Disney can still pull these rides off or if a boring old Dark ride just can’t cut it anymore with our The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Review.

The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure Review
  • Location – Disney California Adventure – Paradise Gardens Park
  • Type – Dark Ride
  • Duration – 6+ Mins
  • Height Restriction – None
  • Average Queue Time – 5 Mins – 45 Mins
  • Fastpass – No
  • Single Rider – No
  • Additional Info – Classically Styled Dark Ride, Without a Modern Twist!
  • Thrill Rating
  • Fun
  • Uniqueness and Theming
  • Smoothness And Comfort
  • Value For Time

What is The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Review

Ariels Undersea Adventure is a Disney Dark Ride themed on the Disney Favourite the Little Mermaid, a real favorite of ours. The ride follows the events of the original film more or less exactly and it does so in the format of a traditional Disney Dark ride. Large animated sets and scenes simply re-tell the story in an old-fashioned Disney Style. It is nice to see Disney going back to its roots with new rides and not just relying on tech and innovation to wow its guests but using some real old-school Imagineering to bring the story to life.

We get the feeling this ride is about to get a whole load more popular with the impending remake of The Little Mermaid

Queue And Theme

The Outside of the ride is themed around an Aquarium and you enter the ride through the aquarium entrance when you get to the ride itself you board a Clam-Shell ride vehicle on a continuous conveyor ride system and head off on to your undersea adventure.

Ride Experience

Little Mermaid - Ursala

Disney has used a few lighting and projection effects to modernize the Dark Ride experience but on the whole, what you are getting is old-school Disney Imagineering. The ride slowly moves around the different set pieces to the soundtrack of the film. The scenes are colorful and energetic.

The story is simply a retelling of the film and allows you to relive the tale in a different way. Do not expect any real dazzling effects of blow-you-away moments, just a really fun and upbeat presentation of the Little Mermaid story.

Fans of the film will love the ride, but if you are not a Little Mermaid fan this may be one to skip. It will certainly split opinions with younger audiences and boys may find this altogether too girly. Younger Riders may also struggle if they are not familiar with the film. Without context, this ride makes little sense really and could leave them baffled! However, if you or your kids are fans of the film it will bring a lot of smiles and happiness.

And Yes you can sing along, in fact, it is practically compulsory!

Some of the Models, especially Ariel are a bit, erm, stiff. Some of her facial features can just appear a little weird and awkward, often actually just because of the shadows. Lifelike she isn’t, this is definitely a cartoon rendering. While most of the other characters are non-human they all work fantastically, even Ursula works far better than some of the Ariel moments. There are certain other effects that are well wide of the mark too, such as the fish fountains!

Little Mermaid - Kiss the Girl

This detracts little from the overall fun however and the fun and uplifting theme of the film shines through to paste over the odd cracks in the facade.


While the fact Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is so modern may be surprising as the ride is pure classic Disney in both nature and execution this takes nothing away from the really fun and well-executed ride experience. We come away with the same sort of delight we get from any of the really old Disney classics over in Disneyland.

The Imagineers really seemed to get this one right, with the Little Mermaid story anything too flashy, advanced, or dramatic would detract from the story, but they didn’t cheap out with a tea-cup ride or some other glorified Fairground attraction. They went back to Disney’s roots and came up with a heartwarming and joyful ride that leaves you feeling the way anything Disney should…with a small glow inside!

Little Mermaid Finale

Have Yor Say

Over to you guys! How did you find Ariels Undersea Adventure? Does it bring back find memories of childhood, of the film, and of Disney rides of old? Or does the Modern age require more than a few jerky and slightly creepy models to get you excited? Let us know in the comments below. We would also love to hear what your kids made of the ride. Did they enjoy the experience or was it all a bit bewildering? Please let us know in the comments below if you have anything to add.

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