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The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning is a direct-to-video film released in 2008 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. It is the prequel to the 1989 Disney animated feature film The Little Mermaid. The film follows Ariel's past, including the death of her mother, Queen Athena.


Many years before the events of the original film, King Triton and his wife, Queen Athena, rule over the underwater kingdom of Atlantica, which is filled with music and laughter. They have seven young daughters, the youngest of whom is Ariel. The merfolk are shown relaxing in a lagoon above water, and Triton gives Athena a music box. Suddenly, a big pirate ship approaches. Everyone escapes except Athena, who is crushed by the ship when she tries to save the music box, due to the pirates having apparently lost control of their own vessel and unable to divert it away from crushing Athena and running aground. Devastated and heartbroken by Athena's death, Triton throws the music box into the ocean and bans music from the kingdom.

Ten years later, Ariel and her six older sisters are not happy with living under a strict routine maintained by their governess, Marina Del Rey and her assistant, Benjamin. Marina hates being the girls' governess and longs to be Triton's attaché, a job currently filled by Sebastian the crab. Ariel hates their current lifestyle, which brings her into conflict with her father. One day, Ariel encounters Flounder the tropical fish whom she later follows to an underground music club. She is overjoyed by the presence of music and is shocked when she sees Sebastian performing there. When her presence is revealed, the entire band stops playing and hides, believing Ariel will tell her father about them. Ariel sings a song explaining her love of music and the remembrance of her mother and she joins the club with an oath.


Ariel remembering music.

Ariel returns to the palace, and her sisters confront her over her disappearance. She explains where she was, and the following night all seven girls go to the club to have fun, despite Attina being reluctant. Marina secretly finds them, and she later reports their activities to Triton. Sebastian, Flounder, and the band are sent to jail (despite Ariel's objections) while Marina gets the job she wants.

Triton confines his daughters to the palace, and Ariel goes as far as to say that if her mother was still alive, she would have never wanted music to be banned. She swims to the bedroom, with her sisters following and telling her that no one is happy, except Marina. Marina, who is not the girls' governess anymore, is now Triton's new attaché and is happy with her new job, while everyone is sad and miserable. That night, Ariel, who can't live without music, leaves Atlantica and frees her friends. Sebastian leads them to a deserted place away from the palace, where Ariel finds Athena's music box, as Sebastian hoped.

Marina happily talks to Triton about her new job in the kingdom but is interrupted by Attina, the eldest of Ariel's six older sisters, telling Triton that Ariel is not in Atlantica. Triton orders his guards to bring Ariel back home, ignoring and angering Marina. In her lair, Marina tells Benjamin that she releases her electric eels from the dungeon to kill Sebastian and forbid Ariel to return to Atlantica so she can remain as Triton's attache. Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian decide to return to Atlantica to bring the music box to Triton, hoping that it will change his mind, as he has forgotten how to be happy after Athena's death.

On the way back, Marina and her electric eels confront Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian. Before music is restored back into the kingdom, the final battle begins when Marina bans Ariel from going back to Atlantica. Marina wants to stop them so she will retain her position of "power", and a struggle ensues. The music band friends save Ariel and Flounder from being murdered by Marina's three electric pet eels. It ends when Marina almost kills Sebastian, but Ariel pushes her away, getting hit in the process, and faints. Triton arrives in time to witness this, and he is remorseful for his actions. He sings the lyrics of "Athena's Song", and Ariel wakes up. Triton apologizes to Ariel and carries her back to Atlantica before ordering his guards to arrest Marina.

The film ends when Triton allows both love and music back into his kingdom and appoints Sebastian as the new court composer of Atlantica, much to everyone's glee with Ariel and Flounder. Everyone, including Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder, and six older sisters, rejoices except Marina, who has been sent to prison.


A teaser trailer and musical preview of the film (an alternate version of "Jump in the Line") were attached to the Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid, which was released in October 2006. At the time, the working title The Little Mermaid III was still being used. At that point, the preview showed Eric's ship blowing up in a storm, Melody's necklace falling under the water, and Ariel's face silhouetted in the water. This was probably based on a previous version of the story since the trailer doesn't really match what actually happens in the released movie. In addition, a storyboarded sequence developed by Tod Carter indicated that the film was initially intended to be a sequel of at least The Little Mermaid, if not Return to the Sea, with part of its plotline involving locating a white whale at the behest of Prince Eric.[1]



The score to the film was composed by James Dooley, recorded the score with a 72-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony, as well as a big band, at the Sony Scoring Stage The film features new songs written by Jeanine Tesori, along with covers of previously-recorded calypso songs that were arranged by Dooley. The songs featured in the film are:

So far, it is currently unknown if a soundtrack album will be released.


The film was released on Region 1 DVD in the USA on August 26, 2008, and on Region 2 DVD in the UK and Europe on September 22, 2008. The DVD contains special features including deleted scenes, a production featurette hosted by the director, games and activities, and a featurette hosted by Sierra Boggess about the Broadway musical.

On December 16, 2008, the film was released in a "The Little Mermaid Trilogy" boxed set that includes The Little Mermaid (Platinum Edition) and The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.

On November 19, 2013, the film was released on Blu-ray in a 2-Movie Collection with The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, which was then released again as a Disney Movie Club exclusive on February 26, 2019.


The DVD became the top-selling DVD for the week ending April 30. Reviews of the film from audiences were mixed, though the film received negative reviews from critics. The new villain, Marina Del Rey, has been criticized as being a poor follow-up to Ursula. The animation quality of the film has been praised as being "impressive" for a direct-to-video and comparable to that of the original film. A mildly negative review has described that in the film "goofiness often gets buried too often underneath a blah story that's much too run-of-the-mill to allow the emotional oomph of the characters' plights to truly impact". The music has also been criticized as being unmemorable, with one review stating that "to label this a musical would be false advertising". The movie received a 33% Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning.


Mermaid 1

Storyboard for the opening of what would eventually become Ariel's Beginning.

  • This likely takes place before the events of the TV series. However, there were some continuity problems between the TV series, this movie, as well as the first film.
    • One notable issue is how Flounder and Ariel met. The TV series shows that they met when Ariel was still a child, while this film shows Ariel to have been older.
    • Marina Del Rey, Triton's governess, was seen surfacing (as well as being almost humiliated by Scuttle) while celebrating her victory, something that would not have been possible had there been a ban on visiting the surface, especially of someone with as high of a position of power as Marina.
    • Another major plot hole, was in the ending. The original film implied during "Daughters of Triton" that the concert that Ariel missed was supposed to be her debut appearance in the band, and that her sisters had been veterans in the band.[2] This is something that would not have been possible seeing how Ariel had saved music in Atlantica, which would have made her band leader instead of waiting a year to join.
      • On a related note, the birth-order of Ariel's sisters were changed; from both the TV series and the original film (the latter being strongly implied from the lyrics of the song "Daughters of Triton" had their birth order as Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Alana, and Ariel.
      • Given that Ariel meets Ursula for the first time in the first film but had already met her in the series, it is likely that the series is non-canon and that this, despite its inconsistencies with the first film, is Ariel's actual origin story (or vice-versa).
      • Considering Disney's tendency to ignore television spin-offs and direct-to-video sequels in general, it is entirely possible that neither this film nor the TV series is canon to the original 1989 film.
  • Jim Cummings voices King Triton in this film due to Kenneth Mars being unable to show up for the recording due to his illness. Three years later, Mars passed away from pancreatic cancer on February 12, 2011, at the age of 75.
  • Before details of the plot were revealed, some fans thought that the premise was going to be about Ariel telling Melody about her origins, which was backed up by Tara Strong being credited as a Voice Actress involved in the film, as well as a leaked storyboard where Ariel is conversing with Sebastian and Eric comes in and asks if someone's acting a bit crabby, and also the teaser trailer in The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition.
  • It was originally planned to make Ariel more "contemporary" during the development of the prequel. However, Jodi Benson fought to have Ariel retain her characteristic rebelliousness.
  • Not counting the Tinker Bell films, this is the last follow-up to a movie from the Disney Animated Canon until Ralph Breaks the Internet in 2018, as a result of the ban on direct-to-video sequels (not including spin-offs.)
  • This movie marks the final time Samuel E. Wright voices Sebastian, as well as his last role before his death 13 years later in 2021.
  • This is the last DisneyToon Studios film to use traditional animation.
  • It is currently unknown if The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning is the last animated film in Disney's version of The Little Mermaid franchise; as it has not yet been confirmed or denied by the creators, producers, writers and directors of Disney's version of The Little Mermaid franchise.
  • This movie finally explains why King Triton didn't want Ariel or any other merpeople to go to the surface in the first film.
    • Due to the events in the beginning of the film leading to Athena's death, King Triton not only bans music in Atlantis, but also bans merpeople from ever going to the surface again.


  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20070315222827/http://www.todcarter.com/gallery/gallery_images/mermaid_1.jpg
  2. And then there's the youngest in her musical debut; Our seventh little sister, we're presenting her to you; to sing a song that Sebastian wrote.
v - e - d
The Little Mermaid - 2013 Logo
Films: The Little Mermaid (video/soundtrack) • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (video) • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (video) • The Little Mermaid (2023) (video/soundtrack)

Shows: The Little Mermaid (videography) • A Poem Is...The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live! (soundtrack) • Sebastian's Caribbean JamboreeAriel
Video Games: NES gameSega Genesis GameAriel's Story StudioKingdom HeartsKingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesKingdom Hearts IIThe Little Mermaid 2: Pinball FrenzyDisney's The Little Mermaid: Magic in Two KingdomsDisney Emoji BlitzDisney Heroes: Battle Mode
Books: The Art of The Little MermaidDisney Princess Enchanted Stables: The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Baby BeauPoor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea WitchOfficial Comic AdaptationDisney ComicsThe Little Mermaid's Treasure ChestDisney Princess BeginningsMarvel ComicsThe Little Mermaid: The Full Film ScriptPrince of Song & SeaThe Little Mermaid: Against the Tide
Music: The Legacy CollectionSebastian from The Little MermaidSebastian: Party Gras!The Little Mermaid: Songs from the SeaThe Little Mermaid: Splash HitsAriel's Favorites
Cancelled projects: Little Mermaid's Island

Disney Parks
Mermaid LagoonDisney's Art of Animation ResortAriel's GrottoCountry Bear Musical JamboreeTriton's GardenBlowfish Balloon RaceDisney Animation BuildingFairy Tale ForestFlounder's Flying Fish CoasterIt's a Small WorldJumpin' JellyfishKing Triton's Carousel of the SeaMermaid Lagoon TheaterAriel's PlaygroundMickey's PhilharMagicPrincess PavilionScuttle's ScootersSorcerers of the Magic KingdomSorcerer's WorkshopStorybook Land Canal BoatsThe Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea AdventureThe WhirlpoolVoyage to the Crystal Grotto

Entertainment: AnimagiqueBelieve! Sea of DreamsCastle of Magical DreamsDisney Dreams: An Enchanted ClassicDisney KiteTailsDisney's WishesFantasmic!Feel the MagicGolden Fairytale FanfareKing Triton's ConcertMickey's Magical CelebrationMickey's Magical Music WorldMickey and the Magical MapMickey and the Wondrous BookThe Golden MickeysThe Little Mermaid - A Musical AdventureThe Starlit Princess WaltzVillains Tonight!Voyage of The Little Mermaid
Restaurants: Ariel's Grotto
Parades: Celebrate A Dream Come True ParadeDisney's FantillusionDisney's Magical Moments ParadeDisney Carnivale ParadeDisney on ParadeDisney Stars on ParadeFestival of Fantasy ParadeMickey's New Year's Eve ParadeMickey & Friends Street CelebrationMickey's Soundsational ParadeMove It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street PartyPaint The Night ParadeSpectroMagicThe Wonderful World of Disney ParadeWalt Disney's Parade of Dreams
Fireworks: Believe... There's Magic in the StarsCelebrate the MagicDisney Dreams!Disney EnchantmentDisney in the StarsDisneyland ForeverFantasy in the SkyHappily Ever AfterIgnite the Dream: A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and LightMagic, Music and MayhemThe Magic, the Memories and YouMomentousOnce Upon a TimeRemember... Dreams Come TrueWonderful World of AnimationWorld of ColorIlluminate! A Nighttime CelebrationWondrous Journeys
Spring: Disney Color-Fest: A Street Party!Disney Pirate or Princess: Make Your Choice
Summer: Stitch's Summer Dance BashSummer Blast
Halloween: Are You Brave Enough?Disney's Not So Spooky SpectacularFrightfully Fun ParadeHappy HallowishesLet's Get WickedRe-Villains! Halloween ParadeThe Villains WorldVillains Night Out! Chapter 2
Christmas: A Christmas Fantasy ParadeDisney Winter Magic CavalcadeRoyal Christmas Wishes

Original: ArielFlounderSebastianScuttlePrince EricKing TritonUrsulaFlotsam and JetsamKing Triton's DaughtersMaxGrimsbyCarlottaChef LouisUrsula's GardenGlutThe Seahorse HeraldHaroldMerpeopleSea CreaturesLagoon Residents

Sequel: MelodyTip and DashAlexMorganaCloak and DaggerUndertowHammerhead SharkFlounder's GuppiesBaby PenguinUrsula and Morgana's Mother
Prequel: Queen AthenaMarina Del ReyBenjaminThe Catfish Club BandStevieElectric Eels
Little Mermaid's Island: SandyScales
TV Series: UrchinGabriellaOllieDudleyPearlPearl's MotherMantaLittle EvilDanielMoraySimonLobster Mobster and Da ShrimpThe SorceressGlowfishEbb and FloEmpreror ShargaSharkaniansOctopidBrain SpongeZeusSpot the Killer WhaleClaud and Claudia CrabCrab ScoutsHans Christian AndersenLuckyThorAugustusStormy the Giant SeahorseThe Magical Wishing StarfishHowling HairfishApolloArchimedesSeaclopsNeptuneDr. Vile
Comic Book: IndigoMarlin the MagicianJenny
Remake: Queen Selina

The Little MermaidAriel
Prince Eric's StatueTridentUrsula's CauldronUrsula's NecklaceMelody's locketQueen Athena's music boxDinglehopperRoyal ShipThe Wedding ShipSnarfblatt
AtlanticaAriel's Secret GrottoUrsula's LairPrince Eric's CastleSharkaniaMorgana's Ice Cave
Films: Fathoms BelowDaughters of King TritonPart of Your WorldUnder the SeaPoor Unfortunate SoulsLes PoissonsKiss the GirlDown to the SeaFor a MomentTip and DashHere on the Land and SeaEndless SkyJust One MistakeJump in the Line (Shake, Senora)I RememberMan Smart (Woman Smarter)I Will Sing

TV Series: Just a Little LoveYou Got to be YouThe Edge of the Edge of the SeaThe Lobster Mobster's MobThe Beddy Bye BluesSing a New SongIn HarmonyThis is the LifeNever Give UpYou Wouldn't Want to Mess with MeThe Sound of LaughterDaring to DanceJust Give Me a ChanceEvil Lullaby
Musical: She's in LoveHuman StuffPositoovityI Want the Good Times BackStorm at SeaDaddy's Little AngelHer VoiceThe World AboveThe ContestIf OnlyBeyond My Wildest DreamsSweet ChildOne Step CloserAll Good Things Must End
Songs from the Sea: The Sea KingdomWhat's It Like to Be a Mermaid?The Scuttle StrutThere's Only One ArielHe's a FriendAt the Mermaids' BallParty With MeMy Room in the SeaDreamingH2O, What a Feeling!We Share the EarthWhere Mermaids Dwell
Splash Hits: In My Blue BackyardHome is
Remake: Wild Uncharted WatersFor the First TimeThe Scuttlebutt
Deleted: Silence is GoldenGonna Get My WishImpossible Child
Other: Music is in the AirOne DanceA Mermaid Song

See Also
MusicalThe Disney AfternoonDisney Sing Along Songs: Under the Sea