"Disney Renaissance and Golden Age". This is because it revived Disney's popularity in the movie industry and presented characters that had a lot of personality whereas before characters were somewhat dull and one dimensional (i.e.- Snow White).
Ariel was voiced by Jodi Benson and was portrayed as being a 16 year old. Ariel's physical features and personality was mostly modeled after Alyssa Milano who played Samantha Micelli on the ABC series "Who's The Boss?" (1984-1992). It is also believed that Sherri Lynn Stoner, who was an actress and a writer, inspired some of Ariel's physical attributes as well. The movement of Ariel's hair was modeled after footage of Sally Kristen Ride in space. Sally Kristen Ride was astronaut and physicist who worked for NASA at the time.
Eric was voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes and was portrayed as being an 18 year old. Eric's physical features and personality were modeled after Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise (1977-1984), and Mel Gibson. It is rumored that he was named in honor of Eric Larson who was one of Disney's leading animators during this time period but died a year before The Little Mermaid was released. It is also rumored that Eric was named after Edvard Eriksen who created a sculpture of Ariel in Copenhagen, Denmark. Eric is the only Disney Prince who doesn't sing.
The movies plot was adapted from the story Den Lille Havfrue (meaning "the little mermaid" in Danish) which was written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. The book and the movie have many similar points but have incredibly different endings. Click here to find out more about the differing story lines.
Since Hans Christian Anderson was Danish it is believed that the story was set in the Baltic Sea (while Ariel was a mermaid) and Denmark between 1650-1700. But the animated film is believed to be set in the Caribbean Sea (while Ariel was a mermaid) and Puerto Rico between 1890-1900.
If you haven't watched The Little Mermaid yet then make sure to check it out on Netflix. If you don't have Netflix then the next showing of The Little Mermaid on TV will be on ABC Family on Tuesday, December 9th at 6pm.
If you want to read the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson then click here.
If you want a to read the full list of cast members in The Little Mermaid click here
That's all for today's Disney History Lesson! Keep a lookout for the next one!
Sources (various facts and pictures)-