At this point, it’s expected that pretty much every Disney attraction will exit into a gift shop. For “Voyage of The Little Mermaid,” that shop is “In Character,” which specializes in merchandise featuring Ariel and her fellow princesses. Given its location at Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s Animation Courtyard, the store’s decorations not only celebrate Disney’s royal characters, but also the behind the scenes magic that brings them to life.
Throughout “In Character,” oversized clipboards holding model sheets can be found on top of some of the merchandise displays. As we’ve discussed before, model sheets act guides for the many animators who may be working on an individual character in order to keep their depiction uniform throughout the entire film. In addition to showing off artwork seldom seen by the general public, this display featuring a model sheet of Ariel serves as a nod to two of Walt Disney Animation Studio’s most prolific filmmakers.
John Musker and Ron Clements started out as animators at Walt Disney Productions in the 1970’s. A few years later, they began their directorial careers at the studio and as a team they have been responsible for a half a dozen animated features including “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Hercules,” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Among an animation director’s many responsibilities is to approve the final design of a film’s characters, which is why this Ariel model sheet includes the notes “OK John” and “OK Ron” written at the bottom. With their next film, “Moana,” just a little over a year away from its release date, no doubt John and Ron will have many more thinks to “OK” over the next few months.