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The Wonderful World Of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Wonderful World Of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live TV Poster Image
Cheesy, watered down performance of popular animated film.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Love, family, friendship, adventure, and sacrifice are all themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

As is the case with any fairy tale, the story’s characters range from being kindhearted and loving to evil. Ariel disobeys her father regularly by going to the surface and be closer to humans. However, she's kind, perseveres to get what she wants, and loves her family. 

Violence & Scariness

It contains dark scenes featuring Ursula and her eels, as well as attempts to drown land characters. The live performances featuring Ursula are more lighthearted. 

Sexy Stuff

The animated and live mermaids wear bikini tops and have bare backs, but it’s not in a sexual context. 

Consumerism

It promotes the 30th anniversary release of the Disney film. The broadcast also featured sneak peaks at other Disney films. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ariel drinks a potion that gives her human legs for three days. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live features the original animated Disney film, The Little Mermaid, overlaid with live performances of the film’s iconic songs. It’s lively and family-friendly, but some scenes might be scary for littler kids, like sea witch Ursula's spell casting or other perilous situations. It's pretty cheesy, but fans of the film will probably enjoy this fluffy bit of hybrid entertainment. 

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What's the story?

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY: THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE is a special musical event celebrating the 30 year anniversary of Disney’s popular animated film. The unique presentation, which takes place in front of a live audience, features the original movie, and combines it with live performances from Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, and Queen Latifah ​​​​​as the irrepressible Ursula. Musical numbers by Shaggy and John Stamos also add to the fray. There’s also a new character (played by Glee’s Amber Riley) and an original song. 

Is it any good?

This larger-than-life musical extravaganza attempts to deliver all the spectacle that Disney is known for by combining film, live action, puppetry, aerial stunts, and special effects. However, most of the show isn’t live, and viewers spend most of the two-hour event watching the original Disney film. The live cast delivers some solid (if not always perfect) singing performances, but transitioning to them in-between film scenes is sometimes a little jarring. There are some creative attempts at simulating the events that take place underseas, but the costumes and stage props lack the sophistication one would expect from a show of this magnitude. But there are some fun moments, like when John Stamos breaks character while playing Chef Louis, and when Queen Latifah ​​​​​takes Ursula’s sassy movements to a new level. The movie's multigenerational fans will enjoy singing along to the live performances of the film’s most iconic songs, but The Little Mermaid Live feels watered down, and falls short of being magical. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the story of The Little Mermaid. How did Disney adapt the story from the original dark, sad fairy tale to make it more lighthearted?

  • What are the challenges of adapting animated films to live television? What kinds of things were featured in The Little Mermaid Live to create Ariel’s underwater world?

TV details

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For kids who love Disney classics

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