My all-time favorite ride at Disney World was the late, great, lamented, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I loved that ride better than the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain or even Expedition Everest. Of course, Disney, in their infinite wisdom, was apparently completely unaware of the strong emotional attachment to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride as evidenced by the outcry of criticism and despair upon Disney’s announcement to retire the ride and use the space for, well, whatever is there now. Frankly, I’ve avoided going there on principles and because to do so would leave me crying in a pit of emotional desperation. It is a testament to Disney’s increasing lapses in logic that they mistakenly believe that the key to the success of my all-time favorite Disney movie, Lilo & Stitch, is Stitch rather than the amazing Lilo and so decided to transform that movie into Stitch’s Great Escape, the single worst attraction in the history of amusement park attractions; even worse than the amazingly long and boring T-2 attraction at Universal Orlando. Another lapse in Disney logic is that my second favorite non-Pixar Disney animated film, The Little Mermaid, has only been transformed into the greatest ride never made.
I recently came across the fascinating story of how a Little Mermaid ride has essentially been stuck in development hell since 1993. The Little Mermaid is the greatest Disney movie ever to not have a ride made for it [THAT IS NO LONGER TRUE] and from the virtual animated example that that you can usually track down on YouTube one can only imagine that if The Little Mermaid ride depicted in this video ever became an actual attraction it might well become the most amazing dark ride Disney has ever offered. A dark ride, by the way, is any ride contained indoors and does not necessarily have to have a dark theme. Think Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even It’s a Small World.
The video shows an incredible experience that has visitors taking their place in a beautiful shell-shaped ride that is suspended from the ceiling much like the great Peter Pan ride. If you have ever ridden the Peter Pan ride then you know it’s an extraordinary experience that has the power to take one’s breath away the first time they ride it. Well, take that breathtaking component and multiply it by ten and you have what the Little Mermaid ride may one day offer. The ride begins on the surface of the water as you ride past Eric’s ship, but then the most infectious music in Disney history kicks in and Sebastian the crab begins to sing about being under the sea. At that point the the Little Mermaid ride actually dips down into the water and riders are literally placed under the sea where they enjoy a hot crustacean band while the surface of the ocean shimmers seemingly far above them. Lasers, lighting effects, smoke and maybe even a few mirrors are utilized to give the impression of actually being under the sea. If one can judge by the virtual experience, the part of the ride that has you riding underwater will be quite simply the most amazing experience on the entire Disney property.
Sadly, rumors continue to swirl about this potentially revolutionary ride becoming an actual attraction, but they remain only rumors. These rumors have been in place throughout this decade and at present word on the street from the homies is that you may possibly be able to ride the Little Mermaid attraction by 2015. Keep your pincers crossed.
[UPDATE: A SEVERELY SCALED DOWN AND LESS IMPRESSIVE LITTLE MERMAID DARK RIDE IS NOW CURRENTLY IN PLACE.]