Walt Disney had planned on bringing The Little Mermaid to life as one of his early feature films following the success of Snow White in the 1930's. While in production in the 1980s, the staff found the original story and visual work done by Kay Neilsen for Disney's proposed 1930s version. - many of the changes made in the 80's were the same as those made by the Disney writers in the '30s.
Howard Ashman became involved in The Little Mermaid after he contributed a song to Oliver & Company. We can thank him for suggesting that the role of Clarence (the English-butler crab) be changed to a Jamaican Rastafarian crab - Sebastian. This change set the tone for the music throughout the movie, in fact it is considered by many the "film that brought Broadway into cartoons." Thank goodness!! Under The Sea is on of my absolute favorite Disney songs!!
Glen Keane, one of the two animators assigned to Ariel, swears his wife looks exactly like Ariel "without the fins." But the true role model for Ariel's personality and body type was Alyssa Milano, who was starring in Who's the Boss? at the time. Another interesting fact - the inspiration for Ariel's underwater hair effects was footage of Sally Ride while she was in space.
Ursula, the Sea Witch, was based on the drag queen Divine. Pat Carroll was not the first choice to voice Ursula, in fact the role was written for Bea Arthur of Maude and The Golden Girls - but she turned the part down.
It is estimated that over a million bubbles were drawn for The Little Mermaid, most of which were created by Pacific Rim Productions.
The Little Mermaid is the last Disney feature film to use traditional hand-painted cels.
Hope you have enjoyed my little tid bits about The Little Mermaid, and I'm (a little) sorry for making you have Under The Sea stuck in your head all day.
Have a Magical Day!!