The new animated Ariel series gives a wild new spin for Ursula!

The trailer for the new Disney Junior animated series Ariel recasts Ursula as a good guy! Get a peek here!
Disney Lorcana: Ursula's Return Key Art. Courtesy Ravensburger
Disney Lorcana: Ursula's Return Key Art. Courtesy Ravensburger /

Disney has unveiled the first trailer for their upcoming new Ariel animated series, which presents an iconic Disney villain in a stunning new light! Catch it here!

The Little Mermaid is one of the most important movies in Disney history. In the 1980s, Disney animated films were in the doldrums, but the 1989 release of The Little Mermaid sparked a new golden age of hits. It’s still retained its power 35 years later with Disney park rides, merchandising, an animated series and more. 

Now, Disney Jr. is about to unveil the new show Ariel, which is a unique mix of versions of the tale. It has a young Ariel who resembles Halle Bailey from the 2023 live-action version while characters like Flounder and Sebastian are just like their presentation in the 1989 movie. 

It’s aimed at kids, with Mykal-Michelle Harris as Ariel and veteran actor Taye Diggs as King Triton. However, the part that will throw fans is Ariel attends a camp run by her aunt Ursula, voiced by Glee star Amber Riley. 

Yes, Ursula is a good guy in this version with a look much like Queen Latifah in the 2019 ABC live show. It’s a huge change for many but has more links to Disney past than they may realize. 

"Set in the fantastical Caribbean-inspired underwater kingdom of Atlantica, the series follows young mermaid princess Ariel as she embarks on fun-filled, action-packed mermaid adventures with her friends. It features fan-favorite characters, including King Triton, Ursula, Sebastian and Flounder, as well as exciting new additions like Ariel’s two best friends, mer-children Lucia and Fernie, and lots of other adorable sea creatures."

The family links of Ariel and Ursula

Some casual fans may be surprised at the idea of Ariel and Ursula being related. However, this goes back to the original movie. An early version of “Fathoms Below” included a lyric on how Ursula is actually Triton’s sister. The 2007 Broadway show would confirm it, explaining why Triton cut Ursula some slack on her actions and making Ursula more evil for using her own niece to gain power. 

Still, making Ursula into a mentor for Ariel and her friends is a departure. Obviously, a show aimed at the preschool crowd can’t be too sinister and not the first time such a Disney Junior show has used a villain in such a role. Yet fans of the property may need time to get used to this. 

It should still be a fun show, yet it’s interesting how Ariel puts a different spin on The Little Mermaid mythos when it swims on Disney Junior this summer.

Ariel premieres on Disney Junior this summer.