When it comes to choosing my favorite rides in all of Walt Disney World, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid is located in the top section of my list. There are certain rides that I must absolutely ride when on a Walt Disney World trip, and this is one of them.
Now, I’m a little biased due to The Little Mermaid being my favorite princess. However, speaking with other people, they have also told me that it is one they absolutely love. What exactly are the reasons for this? Let’s dive in!
All About Under the Sea
During your adventures in Disney’s, the Magic Kingdom, you absolutely need to take time out of your day to visit Journey of the Little Mermaid. It is located in the Magic Kingdom in New Fantasyland. Now, let me explain. Fantasyland (the original) is located right in the center of the park, directly behind Cinderella’s Castle.
This is where Prince Charming’s Carousel, Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World, etc., are located. As you’re walking through Fantasyland from the castle, you’re going to vear to the right when you see castle spires separate from the main castle. Once you’ve reached those spires, you’ve entered New Fantasyland. The new attractions here are:
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Be Our Guest Restaurant
- Gaston’s Tavern
- The Seven Dwarves Mine Train
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
It might not feel like it due to no sign telling you that you are in New Fantasyland, and both of them melding together. However, once you find the castle spires and a bridge near the restaurant, Be Our Guest, you have entered New Fantasyland.
Journey of the Little Mermaid is between Gaston’s Tavern, a small quick service restaurant, and Ariel’s Grotto, which is where you go to meet Ariel. It’s very easy to find and is in a part of the park where the path might seem a little more narrow. Because of this, it might seem a little tight as far as traffic, but it is not the worst place in Walt Disney World.
The first part of the queue is located outside, so it can be a little hot in the middle of the day. However, there have only been a couple times where the line was long enough to even go outside. In my experience when this has happened, the line has moved continuously, letting us go inside in about ten minutes.
The entire aesthetic is like you are standing in the gorgeous, rocky, seaside with Prince Eric’s castle in view. There’s a beautiful waterfall that gives off a glorious mist and shines in the sun. The queue is shaped like seaside rocks, and then once you go inside, it feels like you are on your way to Ariel’s Grotto. Seaside treasures and different objects from ships are strewn about the queue giving off a huge mermaid and ocean fantasy vibe.
They have a little activity for kids, where there are little screens in different parts of the queue where little crabs are “collecting” treasures. If there is an object you want a crab to collect, you point at the object and the crab will take it away.
A little further down the queue, Scuttle is up in his next, speaking with all of you and talking to the crabs who are collecting treasures. The objects the crabs are holding are the ones that guests have pointed to in the queue outside.The rest of the queue inside looks like you are inside a cave by the sea, with the loading area looking very much like the inside of an “oceanic” palace. Adorned with “carved stone” and different treasures, you could swear you were in Ariel’s palace itself.
The loading process is actually very simple, with the cars looking like clams on a continuously moving belt. They also have wheelchair access for anyone who is on a scooter or wheelchair. They will slow down or stop the moving belt in order to load these guests into the clamshell.
No more than three guests can fit into a clam. Now, this is three adults or older kids. If you have small children, you should be able to fit two adults and two children into the clam. The cast member will also answer any questions that you have for them.
The entire ride is the story of The Little Mermaid. It is essentially a shortened version of the movie itself, bringing you into the story. The ride starts out with Scuttle beginning to tell the story, following with effects that make you feel like you are diving under water.
The entire ride is extremely colorful and beautiful, taking you from one scene of the movie to another. One moment you’re singing Under the Sea with Sebastian, and the next, you’re in Ursula’s lair watching her sing Poor Unfortunate Souls. The rides ends happily ever after, of course, and you exit the same way you loaded onto the ride on a continuous belt.
This is a very slow moving ride that has no sharp corners, no sudden drops, and no jump scares. It is a very simple ride that is actually quite relaxing while you enjoy the beautiful scenes and music in the story.
Actually, if you and your party need time to relax and just want to do something low-key, this is the ride to take part in. If it is really hot outside, it’s located inside a building that keeps cool while also providing a steady ride to relax on and keep you off your feet for awhile.
Who is this Ride For?
This ride is for absolutely everybody. From small children to senior citizens, everyone is welcome on the ride. As I mentioned earlier, this ride is in no way scary nor fast. More than likely, you, along with your friends, family, and/or children, have seen The Little Mermaid Movie.
If your kids love the movie, they definitely need to go on this ride. It’s the perfect, low-key ride for them that still puts them right in the middle of Ariel’s story.
The scenes and colors in the ride are beautiful, and they will absolutely love looking at everything and singing along. The ride is a mix of special effects, lights, and animatronics. The special effects are not so crazy that it would be overly stimulating for children or anyone else.
It is a perfect mix of all effects that it creates a perfect aesthetic that is beautiful yet relaxing for all guests. Whenever you see Ariel and her friend Flounder in her grotto, they are life-sized, and you are very close to them in your clamshell car.
It really truly feels like you are in Ariel’s grotto with her listening to her sing Part of Your World looking at her beautiful collection. If you look closely, you might be able to spot Sebastian hiding amongst her belongings.
Now, being an adult with no kids in my family, I can tell you that I enjoy the ride just as much as a small child. I love the atmosphere and the aesthetic of it. I have only ever ridden it with other adults who are the same age as me or older than me, and we all still had such a great time.
This is the magic of Disney; the fact that something that might seem like it is for small children is actually for everyone who wants to travel to a fantasy world. If you love the Little Mermaid, adult or child, this is a ride that you absolutely need to experience. Even if The Little Mermaid is not your favorite movie, it is still one that everyone can enjoy.
When is the Best Time to Ride?
There really is not a certain strategy where you are avoiding crowds with this ride. Let me explain. When you are avoiding crowds with this ride, you are avoiding crowds in the Magic Kingdom overall. My biggest suggestion that I will say over and over again is that you must get to a park as early as you possibly can.
What I really mean by that is, get to a park before it opens; way before it opens if you can manage it. Whenever you get to the park before it opens, they do not let you past Cinderella’s Castle under the opening ceremony and the park until it officially opens. You can pick the direction you wish to go towards first and wait with the crowd until you are allowed through.
The reason why I stress getting to a park early is because the crowds will be thin in the morning. It might seem like there are a lot of people, and there are.
However, that crowd level will be nothing compared to the middle of the day.
At night, it will thin out more and more, and this is also an excellent time to ride Journey of the Little Mermaid. I’ve never seen the line get absolutely ridiculous at this ride. Any time it’s been a little longer than usual, it seems to move pretty fast due to there being continuous loading.
As fun as it is, it is not the most popular ride in the park, so it would be unusual to see it overly crowded. The only time I saw it was more crowded than usual was when I went to Disney World during the week of Thanksgiving.
Even then, they said the queue was only forty minutes. We might have waited twenty minutes total and did not take as much time as what the wait time had said.
Journey Under the Sea vs. Peter Pan’s Flight
One of the most popular, if not the most popular rides in the Magic Kingdom is Peter Pan’s Flight. Located in Fantasyland, I have never seen the wait time of this ride below seventy minutes. Here is some information on the potentially worst queue lines at Walt Disney World.
The wait times are always bad, and it’s extremely hard to get FastPass for it. Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved this ride, but unfortunately, I’ve had to pick and choose if we are going to ride it during our trips or not because it is not one you can just hop in line for. It is one you definitely have to plan for.
Wish this being said, the easiest one to wait in line for is definitely Journey Under the Sea. Peter Pan’s Flight is super popular, and everyone always go for this ride. One of the differences between Journey of the Little Mermaid and Peter Pan’s Flight is that Peter Pan’s Flight is more nostalgic for guests. It has been around since Walt Disney World opened, and everyone loves it.
The movie Peter Pan has always been a majorly popular one as well, to both older and newer generations. Therefore, the ride is going to be super busy. Even though the ride is older, with older technology, it’s a nostalgic piece of park and also a nostalgic piece of many childhoods.
This includes mine as well. This does not mean people do not like Journey of the Little Mermaid. Many love it! The only thing is that Under the Sea is almost a brand new ride and hasn’t really been made nostalgic in many peoples’ lives as of yet. The movie is nostalgic to people, which is why they love the ride. However, the ride itself is not.
The ride is on a continuous belt when loading and unloading, just like Journey of the Little Mermaid. On Peter Pan’s Flight, you board a Pirate ship that is then sprinkled with pixie dust in order to take off on a magical flight through the story Peter Pan.
It is similar to Journey Under the Sea in that way; it is a ride that tells a story. Your pirate ship is suspended in the air, and the view you have is as if you’re flying amongst the clouds on your way to Neverland. You then fly through Neverland dodging Captain Hook’s crew, gazing upon the Neverland mermaids, and meeting the Tiger Lily’s Native American tribe.
The story then, of course, has a happy ending of the pirates being defeated after Peter Pan saves the day. As I said, it is just like the movie, only a shortened version of it. As you can see, it is very similar to Journey of the Little Mermaid, except the technology in it is much older. When it comes to Disney, however, Disney tugs at your heartstrings and loves the nostalgic. So the fact that the ride is older does not matter to guests.
Journey Under the Sea vs. The Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Now, when it comes to comparing Under the Sea and Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the differences are way more apparent. First off, what is The Voyage of the Little Mermaid? It is a show that resides in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It debuted in January of 1992 and has been a crowd favorite since then.
Again, it is due to the nostalgic love of Disney guests. The show is therefore, older, and honestly, it shows. But guests do not really care about that. The show consists of lazors, puppets, black lights, and real actors who play Ariel and Eric. The show is about fifteen to twenty minutes, and the highlights involve the songs that everyone loves from the movie.
The three songs they sing are Part of your World, Under the Sea, and Poor Unfortunate Souls. It’s a very shortened version of the movie, where Ariel sings onstage with all her undersea friends, and a large puppet of Ursula even shows up. It’s something where the audience can also sing along.
There are special effects like lazors through the show to make it look like the audience is underwater, along with bubblings being strewn out to really give that “under the sea” feeling.
The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is really hard to compare with Under the Sea due to just how different it is. First off, one is a ride and the other is a show; one is older and the other is much newer. The technology is different in both and provides a different take on the story.
They both tell the same story, and they shorten it. The ride just provides a fresh look at The Little Mermaid in something that is very updated compared to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. With this perspective, more people are going to ride the ride than go see the show. I myself have not seen the show in years because there are so many things at Hollywood Studios that I honestly would rather be doing.
However, every time I have gone past the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, guests are always waiting to go into the next show, so it is still popular amongst crowds.
In my personal opinion, I believe the Voyage of the Little Mermaid might really be past its time and should be made into an updated version of it. It pains me to say this because The Little Mermaid is my favorite princess and one of my favorite Disney movies, but this is why I say it. Now, whether or not that will be happening in the future I, of course, have no idea. But that is just my opinion.
My favorite out of the two would definitely be Journey of the Little Mermaid. It’s newer, which isn’t necessarily why it’s my favorite because I’m all about nostalgia. I honestly am just more entertained by the ride than I am by The Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
I also believe that more people would like the ride more. Children will love both, especially if they love Ariel and The Little Mermaid, and most adults will have a love for the show. However, I believe more adults will be more entertained by Journey of the Little Mermaid because of the newer technologies and how fun singing along to the songs on the ride are.
For those guests who have children, they can really see the joy in their child’s eyes as they go through the ride at a slow and relaxed pace looking at all the beautiful sights. This can be hard to do in The Voyage of the Little Mermaid since you have other people around in a dark auditorium. On the ride, the magic is more personable, if that makes sense.
You can talk with your child as they point out different things and as you point out different things to them. This way, people will not annoy one another when talking in a theater right next to each other. The ride is an excellent way to enjoy the story and the magic with your loved ones while enjoying a relaxing ride.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movies because it is the story of my favorite princess. As I told you at the beginning of this article, this probably makes me a little biased.
However, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid has been regarded as one of the most underrated attractions at Walt Disney World. It is a ride that you must definitely must take time in your Disney World planning to do.
No matter who you have in your party, everyone can ride the ride. It brings you right into the middle of the story and allows you to share it with your loved ones who get to ride next to you.
It’s an updated and shortened version of the movie and puts you right in the middle of the action, which is exactly what Disney is known to do. The ride usually does not have a long wait at all and is heavily themed from the queue and the entire way through the ride.
It is very visually stunning, giving you activities to do during the queue and making you feel like you’re actually going underwater to Ariel’s kingdom. It’s a redone version of the classic story without taking anything away from it. Journey of the Little Mermaid is a perfect balance of the new and old for Disney lovers of all ages.
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