Several elements from the original Hans Christian Andersen story were kept in the movie, including: Ariel being the youngest of many sisters, the secret white marble statue, the polypi along the entrance to Ursula’s cavern, and Ariel asking what she’ll have left without her voice and the sea-witch’s response.
Deleted scenes: An extended “Fathoms Below” sequence in which it is revealed that Ursula is Triton’s sister; alternate version of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” explaining why Ursula was banished by Triton; a scene just before the concert in which Sebastian finds out Ariel is missing; extended scene of Sebastian lost in Eric’s castle; Sebastian giving additional advice to Ariel at bedtime; and the fight with Ursula to the ending with no dialog.
‘Jodi Benson (I)’ sang ‘Part of Your World’ in the dark to get that ‘under the sea’ feeling.
Ben Wright’s final film. When he got the part of Grimsby, Prince Eric’s butler, the erstwhile Disney folks had no idea that he had been the voice of Roger in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). He had to tell them.
When Scuttle is providing “vocal romantic stimulation” to Eric and Ariel while they are rowing in the lagoon, he is squawking Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet”.
Originally, Sebastian was to have an English accent. It was lyricist/producer Howard Ashman who suggested he be Jamaican. This opened the door to calypso style numbers like “Under the Sea”, which won the Academy Award.
There was a widespread rumor in the early to mid-’90s that the priest in the wedding scene has an erection. He doesn’t (in fact the shot is of the priest’s knee moving underneath his tunic) but this didn’t deter enraged moralists from strenuous protest (even to the extent of filing at least one lawsuit against Disney). In the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD release, the scene has been altered so that the priest is standing on a small platform box and his knee is no longer visible through his robes.
When Ursula first shows Ariel the contract, it quickly scrolls through the body of the text. This is the actual text shown on the scroll: “I hereby grant unto Ursula, the witch of the sea… , one voice, in exchange for byon once high, Dinu*gihn thon Mueo serr on Puur-qurr I rehd moisn petn r m uenre urpti m srerp monk guaki ,Ch rich noy ri imm ro mund for all eternity. signed,” All other instances clearly say: “I hereby grand unto Ursula, the witch of the sea… , one voice, for all eternity. signed,”
The character of Ursula was based on Divine. Her personality and some of her actions were also largely inspired by a previous Disney villain, Madame Medusa from Disney’s The Rescuers (1977).
Ariel’s liplines were created with hand-inking.
When Ariel is singing “Part of Your World,” there is a bust of Abraham Lincoln.
Ariel’s treasure cave includes the painting “Magdalene With the Smoking Flame” by 17th-century artist Georges de La Tour.
In the opening scene when King Triton arrives at the arena, you can briefly see Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Kermit the Frog in the crowd of sea-people as mermen when he passes over them.
The directors insisted that every one of the millions of bubbles should be hand-drawn, not Xeroxed. The sheer manpower for such an effort required Disney to farm out most of the bubble-drawing to Pacific Rim Productions, a China-based firm with production facilities in Beijing.