Since pretty much the opening of Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios), the theme park has held the reputation of only being worth a half a day. With the two new expansions happening (Toy Story Land and Star Wars), it is safe to say Hollywood Studios will be one of the most populated parks on property, but within all of the rukus and rumors there has been a show that has withstood the test of time, Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
Now if you are running through the parks trying to hit some of the big attractions such as Tower of Tower and Rock n Roller Coaster, you may miss the sign. Located in the Animation Courtyard (You will also find Disney Junior Live here as well) lies Voyage of the Little Mermaid. It is a fantastic retelling of the classic 1989 Disney movie brought to life right before your eyes.
NOTE: It is important to not confuse the Hollywood Studios’ show, Voyage of the Little Mermaid with the actual attraction Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid which is an attraction in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. Like if you are looking for the attraction, you are going to be let down to be stuck in a 17 minute show. But really is that the worst that can happen?
Voyage of the Little Mermaid review
Before going into an attraction, most guests want to know what to expect. When it comes to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the experience begins right before you enter the stand by queue. Now keep in mind depending on how many people are waiting to watch any given show throughout the day (each show is exactly 25 minutes apart), you may begin your journey outside of the pre-show doors and outside in the hot Florida weather, but it will be under cover to help with the heat. Once you enter the pre show room doors you will be face to face with the world of the Little Mermaid.
The pre-show is basically a large room where you will be standing in an aquatic theme space to begin your journey into the next larger theater. Make sure you listen because the instructions will be provided for entry and safety reasons. Plus no one wants their show ruined by some flash photography (not to mention the performers on stage!).
When you enter the next theater you will take your seat as the room will begin to darken and next thing you know, it feels like you are under the sea within the world of Ariel and all her friends. One of the most important factors to keep in mind is that the theater will become incredibly dark!
If you have tiny members of your family with you, you might want to just hold on to them tight and provide them with a few moments of comfort because this will pass incredibly quickly and suddenly there will be all of your favorite songs from the movie itself! This has to be one of the best Disney attractions for toddlers. Although the puppet of Ursula is about ten feet tall, so if your child gets spooked by giant 10 feet tall sea witch puppets, this might be a little bit too much for them.
Now this is a live retelling of the classic movie, so all of the performers are real people including all of their underwater friends. This show does feature puppets and Ursula herself! There are some black lights involved and bubbles as well. The entire movie is condensed into just 17 minutes so you do not have to prepare yourself to be stuck there all day! Just make sure you sing and clap along while enjoying the talent on stage.
FastPass or No FastPass?
Now for most attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort, I always tell people to fastpass the attractions you want but it really is up to your discretion. When it comes to Voyage of the Little Mermaid, do not get a fastpass. I repeat you DO NOT need a fastpass for this attraction.
Even during the busiest days of the Holiday Season or the height of Summer Break, the wait for this ride will never ever get above 25 minutes. And in all honesty, the only reason the wait for the ride ever gets to 25 minutes is due to the fact that that is how long the loading, show time and unloading of the show is. So if you are in line for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, do not worry because there is an almost 99% chance that you will be entering the next showing.
Also, the best part of the stand by line has to be the air conditioning. The more air conditioning you can find while at Disney World, the better it will be for staying cool and still enjoying your day at the theme parks!
How to Get the Best Seat
Now when traveling with people of varying abilities everyone is going to want the best seat in the house. Well, through lots of trial and error we have found the secret hint to making sure you can get the best view of the show.
Remember this does require patience. Most people (including myself) want to be the closest to the door of the pre show room as possible. Now even if you want the best show in the house, you can make a point to get as close to the door as possible. And once the doors open you can head right over to the row you want.
Personally dead middle is going to be the best view you can get. So once you enter into the main seating area, do not be the first to run down the row. Make sure about 8 to 10 people enter in front of you. This is going to give you the ability to be sitting in the middle of the row and you will be able to see the entire show perfectly. If you do sit on either ends there is a possibility you will miss out on some of the spectacular effects (they are slightly dated) or amazing puppetry that will go on stage.
NOTE: Do not be the first to enter the row and then chose to sit about ten seats from the end leaving them all empty. For one, it is not polite. Secondly, Disney World itself needs each row completely filled for crowd control reasons, the cast member in charge of the theater will make an announcement that people need to head to the end of the row. Making people climb over you is impolite and no one wants to move their seat once they are comfortable.
One thing that Disney does get right throughout its entire resort area is the ability to be accessible for everyone! If you do have small children with you, strollers do need to be parked outside of the theater in the designated parking area so you will be responsible for holding your children or attempting to contain in them in line by any means necessary.
If someone in your party is in a mobility scooter or wheelchair, they can remain with their mobility equipment for the entire duration of the experience. What does this mean? They do not have to transfer or leave their equipment outside of the show.
Now if anyone in your party has any hearing or visual problems you are going to have multiple options available at the Voyage of the Little Mermaid:
Audio Description: You may go to Guest Services inside Hollywood Studios (or whichever park you are attending ) and on a first come and first serve basis they have handheld devices that will provide vocal descriptions for any shows, some attractions and outdoor activities throughout the park for those who need additional description
Reflective Captioning: This is where LED text is reflected onto an acrylic panel that will be positioned in front of the guest so they can read what is being said during the show.
Assistive Listening: These devices can also be picked up from Guest Relations inside the theme park to amplify sound through headphones or a neck loop. This is best for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Written Aids: When arriving at any attraction, you can ask one of the hostesses or host for a written aid which will be a packet with all of the narrations clearly written out with flashlights and pen and paper if needed.
Sign Language: Available on Sundays and Wednesdays is sign language interpretations for the Hollywood Studios park. Throughout the theme park you will be able to have sign language interpretation readily available and if you need to request an interpreter or want to confirm the availability feel free to call 407-824-4321.
If you ever need any sort of accessibility at the theme parks never hesitate to go to Guest Relations of whatever park you are staying at. Disney is known for the ability to make every guest comfortable and there is no difference when disability is involved. If you need further assistance while going through the park you can also request a Disability Access Service which can help if a guest cannot wait in long lines as well. Never hesitate to go to Guest Relations and bring up your concerns there.
Hidden Character Sighting
One thing every parent knows about going to Disney World is that it is all about the character sightings. Now if you are looking for you kids or yourself to see Ariel this would be the perfect opportunity. It is not like Ariel’s Grotto (located in Magic Kingdom) which is an official photospot, but instead a moment where you can see Ariel in action singing her favorite songs and falling in love.
Not only do you just see Ariel, but instead the entire gang. So even if your child is afraid to get too close too characters, this is the perfect chance for them to see them but not have to get too close and experience the action.
Although you do not get to directly interact with Ariel, this could help by seeing one character and provide the chance to open up chances to meet others instead. Or if you child is obsessed with Ariel, this would just be another moment they would cherish forever.
What’s the verdict?
To put in perspective how awesome the Voyage of the Little Mermaid is, the attraction was originally put in as just a temporary show for the time being. That was over 20 years. It has clearly withstood the test of time, but make sure you go and see it for yourself. This may be one of the old Disney World attractions, but it is also a classic.
For one, it is 25 minutes of air conditioned perfection. On those hot, humid Florida summer days you are going to be looking for every moment of air conditioning you can in order to cool down. While in Hollywood Studios, you would be able to make this something you do in the middle of your day for a quick cool down and you do not have to worry about having a fastpass or a really long stand by line.
Now the technology might not be state of the art like other attractions on property, but it is a classic. A show that the entire family can enjoy. There are lasers that create an under the sea affect and puppets that glow so that the puppet masters are blacked out.
And the music! Many of the quintessential songs from the movies are incorporated throughout the 17 minute show which gives everyone the chance to sing their lungs out while bobbing their head to their favorite Little Mermaid tune.
Now do keep in mind that the stage is kind of high so if there are any pint sized members of your party, they would probably see more if they were sitting on your lap. But other than some of the small technical difficulties, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid needs to be on everyone’s must do list for Hollywood Studios for a comfortable and eventful break during your day.
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