Easter Eggs in The Little Mermaid (1989)

Walt Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is a timeless animated classic released in 1989, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name. Like many Disney films, it is filled with hidden references, inside jokes, and subtle details that make it a delight for both casual viewers and die-hard fans.

In this extensive exploration of Easter eggs and hidden gems in “The Little Mermaid,” we’ll dive deep into the film’s rich tapestry of storytelling and animation.

  1. Hidden Mickeys: Disney is famous for incorporating hidden Mickey Mouse shapes throughout their films, and “The Little Mermaid” is no exception. You can spot several of these iconic three-circle shapes subtly placed throughout the movie.
  2. King Triton’s Court: In the opening scene of the film, during the concert in Triton’s court, one of the attendees in the crowd is wearing a Goofy hat. This is a playful nod to another beloved Disney character.
  3. Books in Ariel’s Grotto: When Ariel gives a tour of her hidden grotto filled with human artifacts, you can spot a few references to other Disney films. Look closely, and you’ll see a copy of “Peter Pan” on one of the shelves.
  4. Sebastian as a Court Composer: The character Sebastian is voiced by Samuel E. Wright and plays the role of King Triton’s composer and advisor. Samuel Wright also voiced Kron in Disney’s “Dinosaurs” television series.
  5. Shipwrecks: Throughout the film, you’ll notice several shipwrecks in the underwater world. Some of these shipwrecks are believed to be the remains of ships from other Disney films, including Captain Hook’s ship from “Peter Pan” and the ship from “The Rescuers.”
  6. Scuttle’s Knowledge: Scuttle, the seagull who serves as Ariel’s friend and advisor on human objects, comically misidentifies various items. This humorous portrayal of a bird with limited knowledge about the human world adds a layer of fun to the film.
  7. A Painting in the Castle: In one scene, you can spot a painting hanging in King Triton’s palace that resembles Cinderella’s Castle from “Cinderella,” another Disney classic.
  8. A Recipe for Seafood: During the “Kiss the Girl” sequence, Chef Louis, who is attempting to cook Sebastian, sings about his love for seafood. In his song, he mentions various seafood dishes, including fish, lobster bisque, and clam chowder.
  9. The Mickey Mouse Watch: In the scene where Prince Eric is on the ship, he is briefly shown wearing a Mickey Mouse wristwatch. This is another subtle nod to the Disney icon.
  10. Characters from “The Little Mermaid” in Other Disney Works: Characters from “The Little Mermaid” have made appearances in other Disney films and shows. For example, Flounder appears in the television series “The Little Mermaid,” and Ariel herself has appeared in various Disney merchandise, theme park attractions, and crossover media.
  11. Voice Actor Cameos: The film features the voice talents of several renowned actors. Pat Carroll, who voices Ursula, is known for her distinctive and memorable portrayal of the character. Additionally, Kenneth Mars, who provides the voice for King Triton, has had a long and successful career in both film and television.
  12. Character Development Through Music: The music in “The Little Mermaid” plays a significant role in character development. Ariel’s longing for the human world is beautifully expressed through the song “Part of Your World,” while Sebastian’s humorous personality shines in “Under the Sea.”
  13. The Real Ariel: The character of Ariel was partially inspired by Alyssa Milano’s portrayal of the young witch in the 1988 TV show “The Canterville Ghost.” This connection between the actress and the character adds an interesting layer to Ariel’s creation.
  14. A Classic Love Story: “The Little Mermaid” follows the classic Disney trope of love overcoming obstacles. Ariel and Eric’s love story is reminiscent of earlier Disney couples like Cinderella and Prince Charming.
  15. Animation References: Disney animators often draw inspiration from real-life actors when creating characters’ expressions and movements. In “The Little Mermaid,” animators studied the movements of actress Sherri Stoner to create Ariel’s fluid and graceful motions.
  16. The Ursula Controversy: Ursula’s character design has sparked discussions and debates over the years. Some have suggested that she was inspired by the famous drag queen Divine. The character’s larger-than-life personality and extravagant appearance have made her an iconic Disney villain.
  17. Sebastian’s Hidden Song: There’s a hidden song in the film that most viewers might miss. During the “Kiss the Girl” sequence, Sebastian starts to sing “Les Poissons,” but it’s drowned out by the romantic melody. It’s a fun hidden detail for those who pay close attention.
  18. Hidden Messages in the Sea: If you look closely during the underwater scenes, you’ll notice that the seaweed and coral formations often resemble letters. Some believe that these formations spell out secret messages or initials, but it’s mostly up to interpretation.
  19. Sebastian’s Friends: During the “Under the Sea” sequence, Sebastian is shown interacting with various underwater creatures, many of which are other Disney characters. You can spot characters like Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck among the sea life.
  20. Awards and Achievements: “The Little Mermaid” marked a turning point for Disney animation and kick-started the Disney Renaissance of the late 1980s and 1990s. It won two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Under the Sea”) and was nominated for Best Original Song (“Kiss the Girl”). Its success paved the way for subsequent Disney classics like “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.”
  21. Historical References: The film is set in a fictional underwater kingdom, but it incorporates elements of various architectural styles, including Roman and Greek influences. King Triton’s palace, in particular, features grand columns and statues reminiscent of ancient civilizations.
  22. Ariel’s Collection: Ariel’s collection of human objects is a key plot point in the film. It includes a wide range of items, from a dinglehopper (fork) to a snarfblatt (pipe). Each of these objects has its own humorous moment in the film.
  23. Eric’s Ship: Prince Eric’s ship is called the “Wetterhorn,” a reference to the Matterhorn mountain in Disneyland. This nod to a beloved Disney theme park attraction is a subtle Easter egg for park enthusiasts.
  24. Sebastian’s Cameo in “Aladdin”: In Disney’s “Aladdin,” there’s a brief cameo of Sebastian during the “Prince Ali” song sequence. He’s seen pinching the Sultan’s rear end. This is a fun crossover moment between Disney films.
  25. The Little Mermaid on Broadway: The success of the animated film led to a Broadway adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” in 2008. The stage production featured new songs and expanded character development, giving fans even more to enjoy.
  26. Ariel’s Appearance in “Ralph Breaks the Internet”: Ariel and her fellow Disney princesses make a memorable appearance in “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (2018). In this film, Ariel’s character is voiced by actress and singer Jodi Benson, who also voiced her in the original film.
  27. Sebastian’s Spin-Off: Sebastian, the lovable crab, had his own spin-off series titled “Sebastian: The Crab’s Journey,” which aired on Disney Channel in the early 1990s. The show focused on his underwater adventures.
  28. References in Disney Theme Parks: Disney theme parks around the world pay tribute to “The Little Mermaid.” You can find Ariel’s Grotto in various Disney parks, including Disneyland and Walt Disney World, where visitors can meet and take photos with the beloved character.
  29. Ariel’s Hair Color Change: Ariel’s vibrant red hair is one of her most iconic features. Interestingly, her hair color was chosen as a contrast to her underwater environment. Red hair stands out beautifully against the blue-green hues of the ocean.
  30. Continuity in “The Little Mermaid II”: In the sequel, “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea,” Ariel and Eric’s daughter, Melody, has a locket that contains a picture of her grandparents, King Triton and Queen Athena. This is a touching nod to the original film and adds depth to the family’s history.
  31. Cultural References: “The Little Mermaid” is not just a Disney creation; it’s based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. The film pays homage to its Danish roots by incorporating elements of Danish culture, such as the ship’s name, “Wetterhorn,” which is a nod to Denmark’s maritime history.
  32. Character Cameos in “Kingdom Hearts”: Ariel, along with other characters from “The Little Mermaid,” makes appearances in the popular video game series “Kingdom Hearts.” These appearances allow players to interact with and explore the underwater world of Atlantica.
  33. Hidden Names in the Credits: The end credits of “The Little Mermaid” include a special thank you to the “Mermaid” and “Merman” staff. This playful touch acknowledges the hard work of the film’s creative team in bringing the underwater world to life.
  34. Ariel’s Doll: Ariel’s popularity extends beyond the screen into the world of toys and merchandise. Children and collectors can find Ariel dolls and action figures that allow them to recreate scenes from the movie.
  35. Underwater Wildlife: Disney’s animators went to great lengths to study underwater life for inspiration. This dedication to accuracy is evident in the film’s depiction of various sea creatures, from colorful fish to menacing sharks.
  36. References in “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning”: This prequel to the original film explores Ariel’s early life. It features nods to events and characters from the first film, offering fans more insight into Ariel’s journey.
  37. Hidden Humor: Disney is known for its clever and subtle humor, and “The Little Mermaid” is no exception. From Scuttle’s misinformed explanations of human objects to Sebastian’s exasperation with Ariel’s curiosity, there are plenty of humorous moments throughout the film.
  38. Ariel’s Transformation: Ariel’s transformation from a mermaid into a human is a pivotal moment in the film. The magical sequence showcases Disney’s expertise in animation and storytelling.
  39. Ariel’s Sisters: Ariel has six older sisters, each with a unique personality and appearance. While they play relatively minor roles in the film, they have become popular characters in their own right among fans of “The Little Mermaid.”
  40. Ariel’s Adventures in Other Media: Ariel has appeared in various spin-off media, including television series, books, and video games. These adaptations allow fans to continue following Ariel’s adventures beyond the original film.
  41. Hidden Messages in Ursula’s Lair: In Ursula’s lair, you can spot a number of hidden messages and symbols. Some fans believe they are references to the seven deadly sins, adding a layer of depth to Ursula’s character.
  42. Sebastian’s Musical Cameos: In addition to his role in “The Little Mermaid,” Sebastian has appeared in various Disney television shows and specials, often showcasing his musical talents.
  43. Ariel’s Wedding Dress: Ariel’s iconic wedding dress at the end of the film is a stunning creation. The design incorporates elements of her mermaid tail while adding a touch of elegance fit for a princess.
  44. Tribute to Jodi Benson: Ariel’s voice actress, Jodi Benson, is celebrated for her contribution to the character’s enduring appeal. Disney has often honored her with appearances at special events and in promotional materials.
  45. Inspirations for Ursula: The character of Ursula drew inspiration from various sources, including the appearance of the famous drag queen Divine and the physicality of legendary actress Joan Collins. This unique blend of influences created a memorable Disney villain.
  46. Ariel’s Evolution: Ariel’s character has evolved over the years, becoming a symbol of female empowerment and independence. She has become a beloved role model for young viewers.
  47. Ariel’s Cameo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”: In Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” there’s a brief moment where you can spot Ariel among the crowd of townspeople. This playful crossover appearance is a fun Easter egg for eagle-eyed viewers.
  48. Legacy in Disney Parks: Ariel’s influence extends to Disney theme parks, where she is featured in attractions like “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.” These rides immerse visitors in Ariel’s world and story.
  49. Hidden Character Names: Disney animators often hide the names of their colleagues or loved ones in the film’s backgrounds. While it can be challenging to spot these names, they are a testament to the close-knit Disney family.
  50. Ariel’s Treasure Trove: Ariel’s collection of human objects is a treasure trove of Easter eggs. Among the items, you can spot a statue of Prince Eric, showcasing her affection for him.
  51. Ariel’s Role in the Disney Princess Lineup: Ariel is one of Disney’s most iconic princesses and is often featured alongside other Disney princesses in merchandise, events, and promotions. Her unique story and character make her a standout in the Disney Princess lineup.
  52. The Magic of Disney Animation: “The Little Mermaid” marked a resurgence in Disney’s animation division. The film’s success reignited interest in hand-drawn animation and set the stage for a new era of Disney storytelling.
  53. Sebastian’s Moral Lessons: Throughout the film, Sebastian serves as a voice of reason and morality. He reminds Ariel of her responsibilities and the consequences of her actions, adding depth to the story’s themes.
  54. Ariel’s Fashion Influence: Ariel’s vibrant red hair and green tail have made her a fashion icon in her own right. Many fans have been inspired by her unique look and have incorporated elements of her style into their own fashion choices.
  55. Ariel’s Impact on Pop Culture: “The Little Mermaid” has left an indelible mark on popular culture. Ariel’s character and story have been referenced in various forms of media, from television shows to music.
  56. Sebastian’s Musical Numbers: Sebastian, the film’s composer and conductor, plays a key role in the film’s musical numbers. His character showcases Disney’s commitment to creating memorable and catchy songs.
  57. Hidden Details in Triton’s Trident: King Triton’s magical trident is a symbol of his power and authority. It is adorned with intricate details and designs that reflect the craftsmanship of Disney’s animators.
  58. Ariel’s Relationship with Flounder: Ariel’s bond with her loyal friend Flounder is a heartwarming aspect of the film. Their friendship is a central theme and adds emotional depth to the story.
  59. Ariel’s Voice: Ariel’s enchanting singing voice is a key element of her character. Jodi Benson’s performance as the voice of Ariel is celebrated for its beauty and emotional resonance.
  60. Legacy of “The Little Mermaid”: “The Little Mermaid” continues to be beloved by audiences of all ages. Its themes of love, self-discovery, and the pursuit of dreams resonate with viewers, making it a timeless Disney classic.

In conclusion, “The Little Mermaid” is a treasure trove of Easter eggs, hidden references, and rich storytelling. From its charming characters to its memorable songs and stunning animation, the film has left an enduring legacy in the world of Disney and animation. As viewers revisit this underwater world, they can discover new details and appreciate the depth of creativity that went into bringing Ariel’s story to life. Whether you’re a casual fan or a devoted Disney enthusiast, “The Little Mermaid” continues to captivate and enchant audiences, making it a true Disney masterpiece.

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