The New Ariel Has Arrived At Disneyland & Visitors Have Big Feelings
Following the release of the live-action Little Mermaid, there’s a new Disney princess at the park.
The new live-action version of The Little Mermaid landed in theaters this week, and it was a major box office win, bringing in over $100 million over its opening weekend. At the same time, a new version of Disney princess Ariel has arrived at Disneyland, ready to greet visiting families and spread that Disney magic.
Of course, just as the announcement that Halle Bailey would play the live-action Ariel caused strong responses, the new park princess is also resulting in strong opinions — including a few horribly racist comments from people who cannot possibly imagine that Ariel could be Black. But on the whole, most fans — and many people of color — are posting emotional first meetings with the park’s newest addition and enjoying the additional character.
Over at Mouse Steps, a YouTube channel dedicated to Disney park news, a new video introduces the new princess to all. The newest re-imagined princess sports a puffy-sleeved baby blue dress that reaches to the knee, plus beautifully long locks of hair, partially done up with pearls and charms integrated into her hairdo.
In the video, Ariel briefly introduces herself to the camera and shows off a few of her favorite things, including the famed dinglehopper gifted to her by Scuttle in the movie.
According to MovieWeb, this is one of the first times that a live-action character has been added to the cast of Disney park characters, and depending on her popularity, she may only be around for a limited time. The original Ariel is still present at the parks and that should not change.
Disney parks tweeter Scott Gustin added that the live-action Ariel will be making the rounds at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and Disneyland Paris.
Videos are already hitting social sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter of emotional fans getting to meet Ariel in person at Disney. Some of the videos are toddlers and kids who will never know a world where there weren’t Black mermaids — and they are delighted to meet the Ariel that they’ve just seen on the big screen.
Other videos show adults who are emotional about meeting a Black Ariel after growing up with mostly white Disney princesses.
One self-described Disney super fan, Erika Kurzawa, posted her powerful experience.
“I realized that I didn’t really see myself as a princess growing up,” she posted on TikTok along with the footage of her meeting the live-action Ariel. “I can even in my adulthood remember saying ‘Oh I’m not really a princess girl. I’m a kooky sidekick and [I’m OK] with that.’ It hurts to remember even feeling that way, but I did and I convinced myself for most of my life that I was content. I chalked it up to not feeling hyper feminine in my gender identity or not needing to be in the spotlight. But what if it really was just a lack of representation? What if my confidence really was tied to the perception of beauty that I saw in the media?”
She goes on the describe what it was like to see the live-action version and then meet the Disney park princess afterward.
“When I saw Halle as Ariel, something changed in me,” she continued. “[It’s] like a new level unlocked deep in this elder millennial’s inner child and was like... [it’s] time to show up as the main character. As a Disney adult who meets A LOT of characters in the park, this meet [and] greet meant more to me than I can really express. I tried really hard not to cry, but as soon as I saw Ariel, the tears just fell. And she told me ‘Tears are a good thing. It’s a human emotion and it’s beautiful.’ So please enjoy this moment of joy and sheer Black Girl Magic, because I certainly did.”
It’s amazing to see both Halle Bailey and now the Disney park live-action Ariel making this impact on audiences around the world.