Disney’s upcoming live-action “The Little Mermaid” film debuts May, 26, 2023. This film started some online controversy when Disney revealed Halle Bailey would be starring as Ariel, Walt Disney World is now planning to bring this version of the character to the parks.
Online submissions have already begun and will stay open until Feb. 2, 2023. The online submission requires applicants to learn a choreographed set of movements and provide some character animations. Applicants will also be required to provide photos.
The submission form says Disney is seeking, “an inquisitive and daring mermaid princess, Ariel is fascinated by the world of humans. Whether she’s on land or under the sea, she’s eager to connect her two worlds, knowing they aren’t so different after all. Ariel appears as depicted in the upcoming live-action adaption of The Little Mermaid.”
The submission details do not include specific requirements for appearance other than a height requirement of 5’2″ to 5’6,” but it does mention this performer is a look-alike for the upcoming live-action “The Little Mermaid” Ariel character. While not specifically stated, it could be assumed Disney is looking for African American performers.
We recently wrote about how Disney is bringing back Ariel’s Grotto meet and greet at the Magic Kingdom. The new posted audition does not mention where this version of Ariel would be placed. We also do not have information about whether the current cartoon-based version of Ariel would be replaced.
At Disney Parks in the United States, as well as some other competitor’s theme parks, Santa Claus’ race has become ambiguous. The upcoming live-action “The Little Mermaid” film marks the first time Disney has retold a story with a different character look, a change that also presents opportunities in the parks for more children to feel represented, which ties in strongly with Disney’s newest business key of inclusion.
It also raises questions about the future of Ariel at the park. Will both versions of the character be presented? Will the movie version of “The Little Mermaid” character be represented by different races, like with Santa Claus? Or will the characters be represented separately, like the cartoon and live-action Buzz Lightyear?
One major opportunity is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the currently-closed Voyage of The Little Mermaid show. This show has been closed for many years with no replacement announced, and while the show was rumored to re-open with an update in 2022, that never happened. Perhaps the 2023 “The Little Mermaid” film provides a unique opportunity to give this character her own spotlight.
For now, we have limited details on what will happen with Ariel in the parks, but you can expect to see the live-action new movie Ariel appear at Walt Disney World in the coming months, most likely timed with the May debut of the film.