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Princess Ariel is a fictional character, a mermaid, and the protagonist of Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. She later appears in the film's prequel television series, direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and direct-to-video prequel The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson in all the above animated material.

The character is based on the protagonist of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" story, but was developed into a different personality for the 1989 animated film adaptation. Her distinct appearance consists of long, flowing red hair, blue eyes, a green tail and a purple seashell bikini top with various hairstyles.

Ariel is one of the meetable face characters at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.


Family & Friends

Ariel is the youngest of 7 daughters. Her older sisters are Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella and Alana. Her mother is Athena, she died when Ariel was about 5 years old.Her father is King Triton. Her paternal grandfather is Poseidon. Her Maternal Grandparents are unknown (see the rest of her family through these links). She has one child who is her daughter Melody (see list of characters from Disney's The Little Mermaid). Her husband is a human named Prince Eric. Her friends are Flounder & Scuttle.


Ariel's Tail color is "Ariel Blue", her sea shells "Purple" and her hair "Red".Those are the 3 colors fans remember Ariel by. When she is in human form Disney artists usually draw her in her Pink dinner gown she wore in the movie.

Ariel's original design was developed by animator Glen Keane, who reportedly said in an animation lecture that she was based on his own wife. Ariel's appearance was also based on actress Alyssa Milano, who was 16 at the time and bore a striking resemblance to Ariel; and female model Sherri Stoner, who provided live-action references for the animators during the development of the film.

A challenge in animating Ariel for the 1989 film was the color required to show Ariel in the changing environments, both under the sea and on land, for which the animators required thirty-two color models, not including costume changes. The blue-green color of Ariel's fin was arguably a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character.

Voice casting

Jodi Benson, who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast, was the choice to voice Ariel because the directors felt "it was really important to have the same person doing the singing and speaking voice". Co-director Ron Clements stated that Benson's voice had "sweetness" and "youthfulness" that was unique. When recording the vocals for Ariel's theme song "Part of Your World", Benson reportedly asked that the lights in the studio be dimmed, so to create the feeling of being deep under the sea.

International voice casting

International dubs of the animated films feature other actresses in the role of Ariel. These include:
Country Language Dubbed name Speaking voice Singing voice Notes
Austriamarker Austrian German Arielle Caroline Vasicek
Brazilmarker Brazilian Portuguese Ariel Marisa Leal Gabriela Ferreira 1989 dub
Kiara Sasso 1998 re-dub
Bulgariamarker Bulgarian Ариел - Romanization: Ariel Vesela Boneva
Canadamarker /

Quebec French Ariele Violette Chauveau Dominique Faure
Croatiamarker Croatian Ariela Renata Sabljak
Czech Republicmarker Czech Ariel Jana Mařasová
Denmarkmarker Danish Ariel Marie Ingerslev Sissel Kyrkjebø
Egyptmarker Arabic ﮛﭑﮧﮕﮍ - Romanization: Ariel Rula Zaki
Estoniamarker Estonian Aríelle Johanna Nurmimaa
Finlandmarker Finnish Ariel Johanna Nurmimaa 1989 dub
Nina Tapio 1998 re-dub
Francemarker French Ariel Claire Guyot 1989 dub
Claire Guyot Marie Galey 1998 re-dub
Germanymarker German Arielle Dorette Hugo Ute Lemper 1989 dub
Anna Carlsson Naomi Van Dooren 1998 re-dub

Greek Άριελ - Romanization: Ariel Kristi Stassinopoulou 1989 dub
Christina Kouloumbi Anna Rossi 1998 re-dub
Hong Kongmarker Cantonese 埃裡爾 (ōi léih yíh) ? Cally Kwong
Hungarymarker Hungarian Ariel Marika Oszvald
Icelandmarker Icelandic Aríel Valgerður Guðnadóttir
Israelmarker Hebrew אריאל - Romanization: Ariel Shlomit Aharon
Italymarker Italian Ariel Simona Patitucci (first appearance)
Paola Valentini (all her other appearances)
Japanmarker Japanese アリエル - Romaji: Arieru Mayumi Suzuki
Koreamarker Korean 아리엘 - Hangeul: Arīel Sugyeong Kim
Mexicomarker Latin American Spanish Ariel Gabriela Léon (first appearance)
Erika Araujo (prequel series)
Cony Madera (since The Little Mermaid 2)

Isela Soleto (first appearance and The Little Mermaid 2)
Netherlandsmarker Dutch Ariël Laura Vlasblom
Norwaymarker Norwegian Ariel Sissel Kyrkjebø
Polandmarker Polish Ariel Beata Jankowska
Portugalmarker Portuguese Ariel Mila Belo Anabela Pires
United Statesmarker English Ariel Jodi Benson
Russiamarker Russian Ариэль - Romanization: Ariel Svetlana Svetikova
Swedenmarker Swedish Ariel Sissel Kyrkjebø
Spainmarker Spanish Ariel Graciela Molina María Caneda
Taiwanmarker (Chinamarker) Mandarin 艾莉兒 (Traditional) / 艾莉儿 (Simplified) - Pinyin: ài lì ér) Hsiao-Yun Liu
Thailandmarker Thai Arial Janjira Nimpitakpong 1998 re-dub
Turkeymarker Turkish Ariale Berna Terzi Erol Şebnem Ferah


The Little Mermaid

As depicted in the 1989 film, Ariel is the youngest of King Triton's seven daughters (being 16 years old). She is shown as being adventurous and curious about the world of humans, a fascination which angers her father as merfolk are forbidden from making contact with the human world. Her best friend in the film is a fish named Flounder, and she develops a close relationship with a crab named Sebastian. Ariel salvages human items and keeps them in a secret grotto as part of her collection. Unfortunately for her, most of her knowledge of humans is through her collection, and her information regarding these names and functions of the items she has is almost wholly inaccurate thanks to her well meaning, but possibly demented friend Scuttle, a seagull she visits on the surface from time to time when she finds new human 'artifacts'. Her confusion regarding human objects works to win her the friendship and favor of the humans she later comes in contact with during the film, as they find her antics amusing.

In the film Ariel saves the life of and falls in love with a human prince named Eric. She visits the sea witch, Ursula, to trade her voice to be human for three days in order to get a chance to win Eric's heart, not realizing that this agreement is part of Ursula's bigger plan to trap Ariel's father, King Triton; she also makes Ariel believe that human men hate the voices of women and that it's best for her to be mute in order to win Eric's heart. A bubble forms around her and splits her tail into human legs (as a result, she is partially naked and loses the ability to breathe under water). She is taken to the surface by Flounder and Sebastian. When she wakes up, she discovers her newly formed legs. She is then dressed with the remains of a sail and is found by Eric. She is taken back to the castle and is given a bath. Ariel almost manages to win the agreement by getting the "kiss of true love", but is stopped by Ursula's underhanded tactics. On the third day, Ursula transforms herself into a human and uses a spell on Eric so he would marry her. When Ariel finds out about the wedding, she is devastated. She doesn't go on the boat. Then, Scuttle finds out that the woman is Ursula and rushes to tell Ariel. When she finds out, Ariel dives into the water hoping to catch up to the boat. But when she jumped in, she began to drown, not knowing how to use her legs for swimming. Sebastian saves her by cutting a rope holding a group of barrels together. When she gets on the boat, all the sea animals work to ruin the wedding and when Scuttle rips the shell of the disguised Ursula's neck, which is holding Ariels' voice, it drops and breaks, causing the voice to return back to its rightful owner. With her voice restored, Ariel and Eric are about to kiss but the sun sets and Ariel is transformed back into a mermaid. Ursula takes Ariel back into the ocean where she is met by King Triton and Sabastion. Triton trades himself for Ariel, enabling Ursula to claim the trident. In the battle that follows, Eric destroys Ursula by ramming a derelict ship's splintered prow through her enlarged torso. When the film ends, Ariel is transformed into a human permanently by King Triton's magical trident.

Ariel's theme song, which is referred to by Disney crew as the "I Want" song, is "Part of Your World", which she sings in her secret grotto proclaiming her fascination for human things. The song was originally going to be cut from the final film, due to the claim that it slowing the story down, but Howard Ashman reportedly fought to keep it in. A reprise of the song is featured a little later in the film when Ariel declares that she wants to become part of Prince Eric's world.

Prequel television series

The prequel series, which first debuted in 1991, takes place an indeterminate time chronologically before the 1989 film, and revolves around Ariel's adventures as a mermaid living under the sea. Most of Ariel's adventures involve her meeting various creatures, getting in trouble, and usually getting out of it successfully. Her friends Flounder and Sebastian are also featured prominently in the series. Ariel continues to be fascinated with human things in the series and is shown collecting items for her grotto.

Prince Eric is sometimes shown in the show, but Ariel always just misses seeing him, preserving the continuity that she sees him first in the 1989 film.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

This 2000 direct-to-video sequel shows Ariel as having given birth to a daughter named Melody. When Melody's safety is threatened by a sea witch named Morgana (sister of Ursula, who was killed in the 1989 film), Ariel and her husband Eric decide they must keep Melody from the sea, and to this effect, build a large wall separating the castle from it. Melody's love of the sea proves too strong, however, and when Melody goes to see Morgana who turns Melody into a mermaid temporarely (just like in the 1989 film), Ariel is forced to temporarily resume her mermaid form in order to rescue her. Unknowingly, Melody is tricked into stealing from her grandfather, King Triton, and bringing Triton to Morgana. On the way she meets Tip the Penguin and Dash the Walrus. Morgana seals her behind a block wall. Tip and Dash face their fears and come to Melody's rescue (who has loss consciousness due to her transforming back into a human and losing her ability to breath underwater). Morgana then causes everyone to bow before her and Ariel tries to stop her. Eventually Morgana grabs her with her tentacle and wraps it around her mouth and holds her hostage. Now it's up to Melody, she grabs the triton and throws it back to King Triton. He then sends Morgana to the bottom of the ocean frozen in a block of ice.

This sequel features Ariel becoming an overprotective parent for her daughter, effectively taking over the role of her father in the 1989 film. (Although she is still comparatively young and King Triton still retains much of his role, as shown during the search for Melody.) As of 2009, Ariel is the only Disney Princess to have been depicted as becoming a mother.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

In the 2008 prequel set several years before the events of the film, an opening prologue shows Ariel as a very young mermaid, living a happy life with her father, King Triton, mother, Queen Athena and her six older sisters. After Athena is killed, a devastated King Triton bans all music from Atlantica. Ariel and her sisters grow up forgetting music and living under their father's strict rules. Ariel eventually discovers a secret underground club where music is played, and there she sings the song "I Remember", which helps her remember her distant past surrounded by love and music, and to remember her mother as well. Ariel bring her sisters but eventually they are caught thanks to Marina (Triton's babysitter). Ariel breaks the band out of prison and runs away with them. Later (with assistance from Sebastian) Ariel finds her mother's music box and after they have a showdown with Marina, Triton changes his ways and allows music back into Atlantica.

Stage musical

Sierra Boggess as Ariel in the stage musical.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

A stage musical version of the 1989 film had its world premiere in Denvermarker, Coloradomarker in 2007 for its pre-Broadway tryout, and on January 10, 2008 debuted on Broadway. The character of Ariel for the stage adaptation was originated by Sierra Boggess. Jodi Benson, the original voice actor for Ariel, attended the musical's opening night.

A few new songs were added to the score, accompanying the songs in the film that were moved to the stage. "The World Above" is Ariel's introductory song, replacing the entire shark-chase sequence in the film. In Act 2, although Ariel has become mute, she sings two songs expressing her thoughts and feelings, these songs being "Beyond My Wildest Dreams", where Ariel explores the human world for the first time, and "If Only", in which Ariel bemoans that she cannot express her feelings to Eric. Additionally, Ariel's voice can be heard in the extended opening of "Fathoms Below", although she is not seen on-stage.

The stage musical features new plot elements not present in the film. It is explained through dialogue that Ariel inherited her mother's singing voice, adding another layer to Triton's protectiveness of her. Ariel and Eric's romance is expanded from the film, as explored in a musical sequence "One Step Closer" where the pair dance together. In the climatic battle, it is Ariel, not Eric, who destroys Ursula by smashing the magic shell. The reason for this change was that the musical's creative team did not want Ariel to come off as passive and because it was easier to stage.

Other appearances

Theme parks

Ariel makes regular appearances in the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, having a special location called Ariel's Grotto at most of them. Ariel also makes cameo appearances in Peter Pan's Flight at Walt Disney World'smarker Magic Kingdommarker and in It's a Small World at Hong Kong Disneylandmarker. She also has a major role in Mickey's PhilharMagic and stars in her own live stage shows at Disney's Hollywood Studiosmarker (Voyage of the Little Mermaid) and Tokyo DisneySeamarker (Mermaid Lagoon Theater). A dark ride based on the movie was designed for Disneyland Parismarker but never built, it has since been announced that a re-designed version of the attraction is to be built as part of the major expansion for Disney's California Adventuremarker.She is also featured in Fantasmic!marker at both Disneylandmarker and Disney's Hollywood Studiosmarker.

Disney's House of Mouse

Ariel appears as a regular guest in the animated television series Disney's House of Mouse and its specials. Her appearance alternates irregularly between her human form and her mermaid form, depending on what the situation requires. These appearances are not part of the animated film continuity. Jodi Benson continues to provide Ariel's voice in this series.

The Little Mermaid (NES game)

Taking place after Eric skewered Ursula in the original film, Ariel and Eric are planning to wed, but the sea-witch Ursula (somehow resurrected) has taken control of the ocean. So Ariel becomes a mermaid once more and sets off to rescue the sea.

The game takes place from a side view and Ariel (swimming most of the time, but hopping around on the land occasionally) can shoot bubbles to trap her foes and can then throw them at each other. She can also dig through sand to find treasure and pick up sea shells to break chests open with. The treasure she finds in the sand is usually just bonus points, but the treasure you find in chests will increase your bubble's power and range.

Although this game is not canon, this exact situation where Ariel had to be turned back into a mermaid would be duplicated in The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea where she dives off a much larger boat (Eric's lead fleet ship) rather than his rowboat in the NES game.

Kingdom Hearts series

The Kingdom Hearts video-game series uses elements from various films in the Disney animated canon, integrating and reinterpreting the stories to fit into the game's plot as the playable characters travel into different kingdoms or "worlds". The 1989 The Little Mermaid film and the kingdom of Atlantica are included as part of the game play.

Kingdom Hearts

In the first game, Ariel's story is similar to the 1989 film, but in addition she's to deal with Ursula's attempt to use the Heartless to defeat King Triton. Ariel can be one of Sora's party members for this world. She encounters Sora as a merman (with a dolphin tail instead), Donald Duck as a male cecaelia, and Goofy as a sea turtle, who claim that they are from a distant ocean to protect the fact that they are from another world . She is the only Disney Princess featured in the game who is not one of the Princesses of Heart and also the only female fighter to join the party up until Mulan.

Within the game, Ariel is duped by Ursula, who also reveals that Sora, Donald, and Goofy are in fact from another world, into giving up her father's trident. After Triton is injured by Ursula, Ariel helps Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat her to atone for her mistakes. After Atlantica's keyhole is sealed, Sora apologizes to Ariel for lying about their origins, but she lets it slide, confident that, if they could find a way to travel to other worlds, then so can she .

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

In this second game, Ariel is a character in Atlantica; but one in Sora's mind. Here, Ursula kidnaps Flounder and baits Ariel into stealing her father's trident. Ariel brings Ursula the trident, believing that Flounder has been taken to the human world, and learns the truth when she does. After helping Sora defeat Ursula, she resolves to tell her father what happened.

She can be acquired as a Friend card after visiting the Key of Guidance room. Using the card causes her to swim across the arena, injuring any enemies she strikes.

Kingdom Hearts II

As in the first Kingdom Hearts, Ariel's story is almost a mirror of the 1989 film's plot. Songs in this world are "Swim This Way", "Part of Your World", "Under the Sea", "Ursula's Revenge", and "A New Day is Dawning". There are some slight changes from the film, among them being:

  1. The musical numbers "Poor Unfortunate Souls" and "Kiss The Girl" are removed.
  2. The deal between Ursula and Ariel is made in the Courtyard instead of in Ursula's cave.
  3. Instead of Sebastian and Flounder pushing the human Ariel to the surface, Sora drags her to the top by himself.
  4. Ariel already has clothes on immediately after her human transformation. In the film, she is almost completely naked after the transformation.
  5. Eric throws the trident — as originally storyboarded for the film — to defeat Ursula.
  6. Eric is conscious after Ursula is defeated, speaks with Ariel as a mermaid for a longer time, and eventually asks her if she'd teach him how to swim.
  7. The song lyrics in "Under the Sea" and "A New Day is Dawning" are somewhat altered; Sora sings a significant portion of Sebastian's original lyrics of "Under the Sea", Ariel pays tribute to Sora, Donald, and Goofy while singing "A New Day is Dawning", and the KH version of "Under the Sea" features a short ballroom-like dance between Sora and Ariel.

Disney Princess franchise

Ariel is one of eight characters in the Disney Princess line, a prominent franchise directed to young girls. The franchise covers a wide variety of merchandise, including but not limited to magazines, music albums, toys, clothes and stationery. Ariel is usually depicted in her mermaid form on the merchandise, but also appears in human form wearing her blue dress, white wedding dress or pink dress. The Disney Princess magazine features comics and posters of Ariel, usually in mermaid form.

Of all the Disney Princesses, Ariel is the only one who is originally not completely human to begin with, the only one to have been depicted as having a child, and the second of three to be featured naked (the others being Cinderella and Mulan).

Kilala Princess

Other Disney media

In the film A Goofy Movie, the main characters stay in a motel that is decorated according to an oceanic theme, and the room lamps are in the shape of Ariel in her mermaid form, with red hair, purple shells and green tail.

Ariel also makes a cameo appearance in the Roger Rabbit short Roller Coaster Rabbit on a sideshow poster at the carnival.

One of Lilo & Stitch movie trailer is including a scene from The Little Mermaid.

Music albums

Due to the success of the 1989 film, a series of music albums were released as part of Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise and featuring Jodi Benson singing in-character as Ariel. Among these albums are:
  • "Sebastian from The Little Mermaid" - Ariel sings two full tracks, "Dancing Mood" and "Dance the Day Away", and provides supporting vocals in "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).
  • "Splash Hits" - This album features a few songs used in the prequel series and other original The Little Mermaid songs. Ariel sings about half the tracks on the album.
  • "Songs from the Sea" - Features entirely original songs, and Ariel sings the majority of the tracks.

Ariel is also included in the various albums that have been released as part of the Disney Princess franchise. The most prominent song for the franchise is "If You Can Dream", which features solos by most members of the Disney Princess group including Princess Jasmine, Cinderella, Belle, Pocahontas, Princess Aurora and Fa Mulan. Snow White has been excluded due to unknown reasons, though she is still featured in the music video. Jodi Benson sings as Ariel in this line as well.

References in Non-Disney media

The character of Ariel has been referenced and parodied many times in various unrelated media, occasionally making unofficial "cameos". Some of these appearances are listed below.

  • In the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on October 29, 2001, Reese Witherspoon dressed as a mermaid for a sketch. Her costume consisted of a colored tail fin, seashell bra, and red hair.

  • The webcomic Penny Arcade also makes a joke on this subject when Gabe remembers his younger "Undersea adventures" or, rather, his attempts at having them.

  • In the animated series Drawn Together, Princess Clara's appearance and personality is based on Princess Ariel all the way down to her relationship with her father the King who is nearly identical in appearance and personality to King Triton. Princess Clara is voiced by Tara Strong, who also voiced Ariel's daughter Melody.

  • In the NES video game, Skate or Die 2, The girlfriend of the playable character, CJ, is based on Ariel in design

  • In 2004's Shrek 2, during the "Accidentally in Love" song sequence, a giant wave comes in washing Fiona away to reveal Ariel. Fiona grabs her by the tail and throws her in the ocean.


Ariel is one of Disney's most iconic animated characters, and her specific color combination of red hair, purple sea shells and green-Blue tail make her distinctly identifiable. She has become an iconic character for children and young women to impersonate; some frequently donning home-made costumes of Ariel's green tail and seashell top, and seen swimming about in pools in amateur home videos on sites such as YouTube. Many amateur artists on art sites such as DeviantArt also model their own mermaids after Ariel. Fansites devoted to the iconic Disney princess are not uncommon; and there is even an bi-annual convention dedicated to her (and other TLM characters) called ArielCon

Ariel is an official "ambassador" for the "Keep Our Oceans Clean" campaign by Environmental Defense, The National Maritime Sanctuary, and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


  1. Pocahontas (1995 film) Platinum Edition DVD
  2. Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989 film) Platinum Edition DVD
  3. The Little Mermaid (NES game)
  4. Ariel: They do seem kinda different. / Sora: We're from an ocean kinda far away, and we're not familiar with these parts.
  5. Ariel: So, Sora... what's your world like? / Sora: Oh, yeah. About that... sorry for lying to you. / Ariel: It's okay. So many places I want to see... I know I'll get there someday. If you could find a way to travel to other worlds, then so can I.
  7. The Deep South
  8. Interspecies Beach, from Saturday Night Live aired October 29, 2001
  9. [1] from Penny Arcade! webcomic
  10. Princess Clara
  11. CJ
  12. Search results on for "Ariel 'The Little Mermaid'"
  13. Search results on for "Ariel, mermaid"
  14. 2008 ArielCon Atlantica at Walt Disney World
  15. Keep Our Oceans Clean - Official website

See also

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