6 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Little Mermaid'

The Little Mermaid

Princess Ariel from 'The Little Mermaid' longed to be human. What else do we know about her?

Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid wanted one thing in life: to be human.

Her desire to connect with the above-water world makes her story universal and easy to relate. The 1989 film is now considered a Disney classic and while she may not be the first Disney princess that springs to mind these days, she remains one of our favorites. 

It's the bright red hair, her beauty, and her teenage angst, since she was just 16 when she made her pact to become human and thus found herself as a pawn in Ursula's wicked plan.

Here's six critical pieces of intel that you need to know about The Little Mermaid, our gal Ariel and what elements of pop culture inspired the character in film.


The character of Ariel was reportedly based on the personality and body shape of actress Alyssa Milano during her Who's the Boss? period. That is, when she was a teenager and on TV, back in the '80s.


Jodi Bensen, the voice of Ariel, sang "Part of Your World" in the dark, so she could feel as though she were underwater. That's sorta like method acting, even for a voice actor.


Producers originally intended for Sebastian, a crab and servant of Ariel's father King Triton, to have an English accent. He ended up with a Jamaican brogue instead.


The movements of Ariel's flame-hued locks were modeled on footage of astronaut Sally Ride's hair when she was in space. Oh, the elements: Air, water, hair!


The character of Ursula was created with Golden Girls star Bea Arthur in mind. The husky-voiced Arthur nixed the part since she was too busy with her main gig on the popular sitcom. Arthur did carry the show with her role as acid-tongued, divorced substitute teacher Dororthy Zbornak.


There are plenty of guests from the Disney family and one from The Muppets in the film. Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Kermit the Frog can be found in the crowd in the opening scene, all you eagle-eyed watchers. We love a Disney x Muppets cross-pollination.