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Live Active Cultures

Seth rides a mermaid

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But, while colorful and kinetic, Little Mermaid is ultimately uncompelling, comprising technological hits (the enormous undulating Ursula animatronic is awesome) and massive misses (Ariel's semi-synchronized lips look badly Botoxed). Some sections are stunningly detailed, while others seem unfinished. Worse, the storyline's second half is severely shortchanged, with the villain's demise a backgrounded 

The ride's real failure is one of perspective. Walt's original attractions put the guests in the protagonist's shoes; you never saw Snow Whitein her Scary Adventures because you were living the story through her eyes. Imagineering went overboard reusing the "you're on a tour when something goes terribly wrong" plotline in everything from Star Tours to Expedition Everest, but all great Disney rides are first-person experiences. Little Mermaid, by contrast, is purely passive, with the guests merely outside observers. I rode once with Steve Barrett, author of the best-selling Hidden Mickeys guidebooks, and we both derived more fun looking for the secret three-circle symbols than from the attraction itself.

There's still time for Disney to correct their missteps before Ariel arrives in Orlando, and the film-accurate castle facade being built for the Florida version is a good start. But anyone who thinks this fishy female is a boy-wizard-beater better think again. We'll have to wait until Cars Land opens next year in California for the next true Disney E-Ticket experience, because this damp dame is a disappointing D-minus at best.

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