Little Mermaid Musical Adventure Stage Show Announced for Disney World in 2024!

Walt Disney World has announced that “The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure” is coming to Hollywood Studios in Fall 2024 as a newly-reimagined stage show. This post shares the announcement and official details, plus our commentary about the upcoming addition. (Updated February 6, 2024.)

Let’s start with the announcement from Walt Disney World. “The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure” is a fully reimagined theatrical production. The show is inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios classic movie, and will debut in the newly-refreshed theater in Animation Courtyard in Fall 2024.

As part of the continued investment in the parks experience, Disney Live Entertainment has been dreaming up innovative ways to bring new life to the beloved story of Ariel’s journey to be part of the human world. When it opens, the show will feature stunning new set pieces, cutting-edge effects, and a bold new design that captures Ariel’s imagination and emotions through her unique view of the world around her.

“The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure” will have guests flipping their fins to musical numbers inspired by the film including “Part of Your World,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and more. The above concept artwork shows the “Kiss the Girl” scene in “The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure.” According to Walt Disney World, that’s “an all-new addition that captures the magic of this fresh production.”

As of February 2024, Walt Disney World has posted a couple of audition notices for The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure on Disney Careers. The first casting call is looking for performers to play Ariel and Prince Eric. The notice indicates that Ariel is a singing role, seeking a lyrical pop soprano with belt to C, whereas Eric is a non-singing role.

Submissions will be accepted through February 19, 2024 and in-person callbacks will occur in late March and early April 2024 in Orlando, New York, and Atlanta.

The other casting call is seeking puppeteers for both The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure and Festival of the Lion King. This one runs through February 25, 2024 with callbacks thereafter in Orlando.

Along with the second casting call, Disney Auditions released the above piece of new concept art. This doesn’t really tell us…anything at all…about the show, though. I guess that it’ll feature these three characters? Looks cute–would make a fun cover for a Trapper Keeper.

While these audition notices don’t share an opening timeframe, given the average turnaround time between casting and opening, we’d expect The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure to debut very early in its previously-announced Fall 2024 timeframe. If anything, past precedent suggests that the show could come closer to late Summer 2024. (If this casting call came without the prior “Fall 2024” opening, our guess would’ve been that the show would debut in late June or July.)

While Walt Disney World’s press release doesn’t mention Voyage of the Little Mermaid, this is a refresh of that. Words like “fully reimagined” and “bring new life” and “fresh production.” In particular, “Kiss the Girl” is identified as an all-new addition, suggesting the other songs will be ported over from Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

There have been rumors about the fate of Voyage of the Little Mermaid since Summer 2020. If I recall correctly, rumblings at the time indicated that the theater had been gutted and the stage show permanently retired. Even then, it was unclear what “gutted” meant–the seats were in pretty rough shape, and other shows (MuppetVision being a prime example) have seen a lot of updates over the last couple of years. Had those occurred all at once during the closure, one might’ve dubbed that “gutted” and erroneously concluded it was being permanently retired.

It wasn’t (and isn’t) the least bit surprising that Voyage of the Little Mermaid would end its lengthy run–the show is literally old enough to buy a round of drinks from BaseLine Tap House. It had been showing its age for years with circa-1992 cutting edge effects consisting of lasers and other outdated lighting.

Like a few shows in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Voyage of the Little Mermaid was/is overdue for an update or outright replacement. Personally, I liked its blast-from-the-past vibe and comforting 1990s quality–but I nevertheless realize that the show needed to be overhauled or outright replaced. This is very much good news from that perspective–I’m not lamenting the change.

Following those rumors, Walt Disney World refreshed the exterior of the building and kept up the marquee. Subsequent reports suggested that the Voyage of the Little Mermaid might live on–with a replacement show in the spirit of the original arriving “soon.”

I started hearing these rumors in either late 2021 or early 2022 (it’s been long enough that my memory isn’t 100% accurate). Honestly, I assumed the idea had been abandoned because it had been so long.

I guess not. On the one hand, I’m always happy to see more normalcy restored at Walt Disney World. And this is more than just that–it’s a stage show that has been overdue for an update for at least a decade getting a proper reimagining. Similarly, it’s great to see Disney Live Entertainment get some love (and budget).

The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure is also much-needed ’round out the day’ capacity at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which should help offset the park’s top-heavy ride roster. So all of that is great news. I don’t want to diminish any of that.

But (of course there’s a but…) it’s also a little difficult to get excited about this given the surrounding circumstances. First of all, because even with a replacement for Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Citizens of Hollywood and Jedi Training Academy are still MIA. Not to mention an actual fireworks show at DHS.

These may seem like minor things, but Disney’s Hollywood Studios has the highest wait times (on average) of any park at Walt Disney World. The park really needs more to offer that doesn’t involve 60+ minute standby waits or Lightning Lanes. (See Walt Disney World Could Fix the Guest Experience by Improving These Things.) The only quick fix for these issues is entertainment.

Honestly, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular all should’ve been refreshed in early 2019 before the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That was the time to do all of this, when the park was gearing up for a massive attendance increase and would badly need added capacity. Walt Disney World didn’t do that; they were more preoccupied with cutting entertainment costs instead.

The next best time to do this would’ve been Summer 2020 when there was another (albeit unanticipated) lull and Walt Disney World would’ve had an opportunity to make changes without taking away needed capacity from Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

But I guess you could argue that there was too much uncertainty and construction was difficult due to the dynamic. (It didn’t stop other projects around Central Florida, including at Universal–but let’s just pretend Disney is, somehow, different and couldn’t possibly have built during the downtime.)

The next best time to do this would’ve been sometime in 2021 or 2022. By that point, things were going back to normal and pent-up demand was arriving in full force. Even though the capacity was very much needed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the project could still have moved forward since Voyage of the Little Mermaid wasn’t being shown, anyway. The capacity had already been lost; it was a nonfactor.

Instead, we’re getting an announcement now for The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure coming in Fall 2024. A reimagined version of an existing show that’s been ‘temporarily unavailable’ for nearly 4 years…coming almost another year from now. Maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed–or maybe it’s the contrast of this news with what Universal is doing–but it’s really difficult for me to get excited about Walt Disney World belatedly doing what they should’ve done years ago, and taking forever in the process.

For 2024, I would’ve expected something more. That entire corner of the park is well past its prime, with Star Wars Launch Bay being a sad shell of its former self. Moving those meet & greets to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (some kind of ‘portal’ or some story nonsense if necessary to sidestep timeline issues) and transforming that space into the long-rumored blank slate dark ride–or literally anything else–would be welcome.

Again, Disney’s Hollywood Studios needs a lot more to do, and this is a very underutilized corner of the park. Supposedly, Josh D’Amaro and Bob Iger want to redevelop areas like this to improve capacity! (For whatever it’s worth, we believe them. As discussed in Why a 5th Theme Park Will NOT Be Built at Disney World in the Next Decade, this is the more efficient approach.)

I’m sure The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure will be a fun stage show that we’ll really enjoy. I’m already looking forward to taking Megatron to it! So I’m not trying to be a debbie downer or negative nelly or whatever.

I’m just a bit frustrated by Walt Disney World’s lackadaisical approach over the last several years. It seems like the only things done with a sense of urgency are upcharges, cutbacks, and Disney Vacation Club construction. For everything else, there’s the implicit expectation that we, as fans, should simply be appreciative about whatever Walt Disney World–an expensive vacation destination–chooses to give us.

Honestly, it also bothers me that there was plenty of budget to develop two new stage shows for Disney Jollywood Nights, the hard ticket Christmas party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but not bring back or refresh entertainment for regular day guests.

It’s no secret to anyone in park management that DHS wait times are high. That people leave the park early out of frustration. That more balance is needed in the attraction and entertainment lineup. And yet, they chose to allocate resources to that as opposed to expediting The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure (and more).

To be crystal clear, this is not a knock at the creatives or team at Disney Live Entertainment working on The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure or Disney Jollywood Nights. Even though I didn’t love the event as a whole, those Christmas stage shows were not the reason why–they were absolutely fantastic (and I really hope they live on, one way or another). It’s not the fault of creatives that one thing gets budget and another doesn’t. They’re playing the cards they’ve been dealt.

Let’s hope that next year and in 2025, they start being dealt better cards, because it’s not just the exhaustion of pent-up demand that’s going to be a problem for Walt Disney World. There might be plenty of people who defend everything Disney does, but there are also a lot of longtime fans starting to get frustrated. And, as we discussed in Is Universal “Beating” Walt Disney World?, the opening of Epic Universe is right around the corner.

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Your Thoughts

What’s your reaction to The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure? Are you simply excited at the prospect of a newly-reimagined stage show and something else to do at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Or is your reaction more mixed, with frustration that it’s taking so long to accomplish so little? Think we’re being too harsh or perfectly fair? Do you agree or disagree with our take? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

16 Responses to “Little Mermaid Musical Adventure Stage Show Announced for Disney World in 2024!”
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