Attraction of the Week
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
or, Voyeur of the Little MermaidMusic for Polyps:
9 March 1999
Zazu: Let's go, Iago! We're off to see the puppet show.
Iago: Not another puppet show! Ever since you saw Muppet*Vision 3D, you've been obsessed with puppet shows. You've watched Legend of the Lion King and the Hunchback stage show over and over, and you even made Clopin do that dopey Punch & Judy routine for you.
Zazu: Yes, well that wasn't just entertainment; it was part of my "How To Deal With Obnoxious Sidekicks" course at the Disney Institute. Besides, I guarantee you'll enjoy this particular puppet show.
Iago: Oh yeah? Why?
Zazu: Because this one also has a mermaid!
Iago: Yowza! Why didn't you say so in the first place? Where'd I put that Speedo?
Zazu: There's no need to get a fishnet wedgie today, Iago. We won't really be going under the sea, though we will get a bit damp.
Iago: How are we gonna see the mermaid if we don't go in the water?
Iago: Oh, I remember! I saw it in a movie once. The mermaid came out of the water, and when she dried off, her fin turned into legs. And then she was --
Zazu: Please don't --
Iago: NAKED!!! Nude. Au naturel. Bare. In her birthday suit. Woohoo! Hey, it isn't even my birthday, Zazu. I don't understand why you're being so nice to me, but I'm not gonna ask any questions. I'm so excited I think I'm gonna wet myself. I didn't even know those Weeki Wachee girls did puppet shows.
Zazu: No, Leaky Crotchy, the Weeki Wachee girls do not perform puppet shows. But there is a birthday involved in my choice of shows today. The film "Splash" was released on 9 March 1984, exactly 15 years ago this coming Tuesday. It starred Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah, and was a modern re-telling of the famed Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid." In fact, the actual mermaid fountain from the film can be seen at the Disney Studios. Which is where we're headed.
Iago: So the mermaid will be doing the puppet show in the fountain?
Zazu: Not in the fountain, Jellyfish Brain. The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is performed at the theater in the Animation Courtyard, where it's been playing ever since 7 January 1992, when it replaced "Here Come the Muppets."
Iago: Well, let's get over there before the next show, Geeky Beaky. I'm dying to see the mermaids. I'm waiting with bated breath.
Zazu: Smells more like baited breath to me.
Iago: Wow, look at the line! Mermaids sure are popular.
Zazu: As was the film "The Little Mermaid." It opened on 17 November 1989, and began a new era of great Disney animated films. The songwriting team of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman earned the film two Oscars: for best score and best song ("Under the Sea"), and "The Little Mermaid" was the first Disney animated feature to receive an Academy Award since "Dumbo" in 1942. As of 24 November 1997, the film had earned $190 million worldwide.
Iago: Speaking of big numbers, how many people do you think are ahead of us, and how long before we get in the building?
Zazu: Why don't you try to calculate that? The show is approximately 17 minutes long. If we estimate that there are 200 people ahead of us, and the theater holds --
Iago: Aaaaaagh! Stop it. I was never good at those mathematical formulas. But I hear Ariel is a real math wiz.
Zazu: I smell a lame joke. Don't tell me. It's because fish travel in schools.
Iago: No. It's because of her impressive algae bra. Get it? Algae bra! <snort!>
Zazu: Ariel does not wear an algae bra.
Iago: You're right. She's supposed to wear anemones. But she finds them uncomfortable, so she just weaves long fronds of seaweed into her hair, and lets them hang down. The trouble is, the seaweed moves around too much in the water, and leaves her exposed. I heard King Triton got really mad at her, and told her she'd better put those anemones on. But she said, "With fronds like these, who needs anemones?" Bwahahahaha!
Zazu: Iago, you know very well that Ariel wears seashells.
Iago: Really? They look more like D shells to me!
Zazu: Oh good, we're entering the nice dark preshow area, where nobody will see that I'm with you.
Iago: This place gives me claustrophobia.
Zazu: More appropriately, cabin fever. It's rather like being in the cargo hold of a ship. Notice all the nautical gewgaws.
Iago: Gewgaws?!? Have you been talking to Scuttle?
Zazu: You mean Mrs. Malaprop? No, I try to avoid speaking to him. He mangles the English language even more than you. It's like listening to that comedian ... oh, what's his name?
Iago: Buddy Hackett?
Zazu: No, not Buddy Hackett. Norm Crosby! That's the one.
Iago: He's not a comedian. He's the guy who dressed like a priest and sang "White Christmas."
Zazu: No, you flake, that's Bing Crosby!
Iago I thought Bing Crosby was the guy who played the obstetrician living in Brooklyn with all those kids, and the wife who was a lawyer --
Zazu: Do me a favor, please, and go stand on the other side of that yellow line near the automatic doors.
Iago: Too late. They've already opened. Oooooh, look at all the smoke! There must be a fire.
Zazu: That's mist.
Iago: Oh good, that'll help put out the fire.
Zazu: There is no fire!
Iago: Are you sure? I know I get overheated when I see mermaids.
Zazu: Iago, will you kindly stop talking about Ariel that way? She is a very wholesome young lady.
Iago: That's not what I hear from Scuttle. He says she likes it when Eric runs his dinglehopper* through her hair, and -- get this -- <whispering> I understand she likes to blow on his snarfblat*!
Zazu: I'll explain that to you later, while I'm beating Scuttle with his own biggermajigger*. Right now the show is starting.
Iago: Cool! And look at this ship approaching.
Zazu: That would be Prince Eric's ship.
Iago: Whoa! Zazu, I think the theater has a bad leak in the roof. I'm not surprised, with all these flash thunderstorms we get.
Zazu: It's not a leak. This wall of water and these special laser effects are intended to make us feel as though we're underwater. Notice how the green lasers, aimed at the mist above us, make it appear as though we're looking up at the surface of the ocean. Now Sebastian will describe the benefits of underwater living in "Under the Sea."
Iago: Is this part a movie?
Zazu: No, this segment is a blacklight puppet show. There are actually a number of puppeteers (Disney won't say exactly how many) operating these denizens of the deep, but the puppeteers are dressed completely in black, so they fade away into the background. Painting things black is a time-honored theater technique used to make things disappear. It's also used in creating the Pepper's Ghost effect at the Haunted Mansion and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. These fluorescent-colored puppets, on the other hand, stand out under the blacklights, and so appear to be swimming across the stage by themselves.
Iago: Pinocchio would be proud.
Zazu: So would Snow White, Mr. Toad, Alice, and Peter Pan, as their dark rides all utilize blacklights as well.
Iago: I used to have some blacklight posters back in the 70's. It was cool to listen to my records with the blacklight on. Is that the same thing?
Zazu: Yes, but nowadays you don't enhance the groovy effect with <ahem!> mind-altering substances. Speaking of listening to records, this song is pre-recorded. That's Samuel E. Wright as the voice of Sebastian.
Iago: Oh, he's really great in all those action films, like "The Negotiator" and "Pulp Fiction."
Zazu: Don't make me beat you to a pulp. You're thinking of Samuel L. Jackson.
Iago: It looks like King Triton wants to beat someone to a pulp.
Zazu: Yes, he's upset because Ariel has fallen in love with a human. Nice laser effect for the King. Did you know that Triton was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite? And, speaking of gods, he is voiced by Kenneth Mars, an actor with a god's name.
Iago: There was a god named Kenneth?
Zazu: Iago, please remind me to say hello to Shan-Yu before we leave the Studios today. I'd like him to crush you with his big thingamajigger*.
Iago: Sorry, but I'm not into that. This is what I'm into! It's Ariel in the flesh. Er, in the scales. Hubba hubba!
Zazu: I will admit, she is very lovely indeed. Did you know that Miss America 1993, Leanza Cornett, used to play Ariel in this show?
Iago: I bet she won the talent competition.
Zazu: Quite possibly. Ariel does do her own singing in this production. A beautiful rendition of "Part of Your World."
Iago: I wish she was part of my world. Oh, and speaking of "world," I heard from Gaston that Ariel went to the Food & Wine Festival in World Showcase. He told me that Ariel has twenty thingamabobs*! I don't think I believe him. I mean, how could she hide twenty of them under two little shells?
Zazu: Ariel does have twenty thingamabobs. She uses them to open wine bottles.
Iago: OUCH! Man, the ocean must be more polluted than I thought if it's causing mermaids to have twenty thingamabobs. On the other hand, it's like getting ten mermaids for the price of one.
Zazu: How about two eels for the price of one? Here are Flotsam and Jetsam, Ursula's little "poopsies."
Iago: If those are her little poopsies, I don't wanna see what she eats for dinner.
Zazu: Judging from the size of her, I'd say she eats like a whale. The all-you-can-eat seafood platter.
Iago: Poor unfortunate Soles. <shaking his head> That is one big sea witch. And who's her fashion coordinator? Somebody gave her some really bad advice when they said that a backless dress was a good look for her.
Zazu: Never mind that. How about those eight tentacles?
Iago: Oh my God! She -- I mean, he -- has eight tentacles? Do you mean to tell me he's a mutant cross-dresser? Did somebody drop a nuclear reactor in the ocean, or what? I'm gonna join an ecology group as soon as we get out of here. There is some majorly weird stuff going on in our oceans. Like, did you notice that one suspicious-looking spire on King Triton's castle? That must've been erected during a nuclear test or something. I'm suprised that Ariel hasn't lost her head over all these problems.
Zazu: Actually, the little mermaid has lost her head. Twice, in fact. They never found it the first time, but the second time it was left in a box outside a TV station. She's also had her arm amputated.
Iago: Eeeeeeew! What are you talking about? I know the Mafia cuts off horses' heads, and makes people sleep with the fishes, but I didn't know they cut off mermaids' heads, and made them sleep with the fishes. Er, not that mermaids don't already sleep with the fishes, if you get my driftwood.
Zazu: No, I'm talking about the famous statue of the little mermaid, which has been sitting in a harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark since 1913. Besides losing body parts, the poor creature has also suffered the indignity of being spray-painted.
Iago: They should put that nice statue of Prince Eric next to her, to protect her.
Zazu: They can't. Don't you remember? King Triton vandalized it.
Iago: Oh yeah. All Ariel could do was save face.
Zazu: She may have saved face, but she just signed Ursula's contract and is losing her voice.
Iago: Oooh, look at those creepy hands stealing her voice. Does this mean Ursula will now sound like Jodi Benson instead of Pat Carroll?
Iago: Too bad she couldn't look like Jodi Benson instead of Pat Carroll.
Zazu: Well, if you'll recall, she did turn herself into the beautiful but evil Vanessa, and tricked Eric into marrying her.
Iago: Oh yeah. How could I forget? That minister must've been pretty excited about performing the wedding. He had a --
Zazu: No, he did not! That's a myth. It was only his knee. <cough!> Now watch the film montage.
Iago: Yeah, what's with all the clips? It's like Fantasmic! or something.
Zazu: Apparently, one of the Imagineers awoke from a donut-induced haze and realized this show was getting way too long. So they rushed everything together in this part to explain the missing pieces of the story.
Iago: Well, there goes Ursula Sanddress. In a blaze of gory.
Zazu: Quite an electrifying ending.
Iago: Hey, what's this? Holy Mackerel! She turned into a human right before our beady little eyes.
Zazu: Now Eric gets to say his big line....
Eric: Ariel! You can talk! It was you all along.
Zazu: ... also his only line.
Iago: But what's with the dress? Why isn't she naked?
Zazu: Iago, this is a family attraction.
Iago: Aw man, I only came along because I thought I'd get to see a naked mermaid. I wonder if Max got to see her change out of that costume behind all the smoke. I think I want his job. He gets to pant, drool, and paw Ariel, and everybody thinks he's cute.
Zazu: If you want to see mermaids change costumes, then you'll have to head over to Weeki Wachee Springs and sneak into a mermaid testing session. After a year of on-the-job training, the mermaid wannabes' final exam involves holding their breath for two and a half minutes while changing out of costume in the mouth of the 72°F. spring.
Iago: Sounds like my kind of entertainment. I think I'll ask José Carioca and Mary Poppins' parrot to come with me. Their twirlamabobs* will come in handy while we watch the mermaids splash and spin around like whirlamajiggers*. We'll be careful not to get caught. It'll be a Sneaky Watchy.
Zazu: You do that. And when the Weeki Wachee police department contacts me about bailing the three of you out, I'll say, "Whosit*? Whatsit*? Whatshisface*? Never heard of them." And then I'll hang up the ringamajigger*.
* Glossary of terms:
The music selected to accompany this page is "Octopus' Garden" by the Beatles.