At D23’s 35th anniversary screening of The Little Mermaid, Ariel and Flounder are seen on the film screen as fans watch at the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center.

D23 Members Make a Splash for 35 Years of The Little Mermaid!

By Emma Winikow

Thirty-five years ago, audiences around the world were captivated by Ariel (voiced by Disney Legend Jodi Benson), the free-spirited mermaid with a heart full of dreams at the center of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ The Little Mermaid. To celebrate the film’s anniversary, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club invited our fin-tastic fans to dive into the magic with a special swim-in screening on Friday, June 8, 2024.

D23 partnered with our friends at Street Food Cinema to bring this enchanting event to life. Upon entering Hansen Dam Aquatic Center—home to the country’s largest pool—fans traded their human legs for cozy mermaid-tail blankets, compliments of D23! Attendees left with exclusive anniversary patches and “Under the Sea” postcards, making this celebration of The Little Mermaid truly memorable.

Before the sun went down, fans were treated to a mer-mazing surprise when Ron Clements, co-director of The Little Mermaid, participated in a Q&A session. He told a whale of a tale or two, including the story of how he discovered Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale in a bookstore—inspiring the animated classic we know and love today!

 Two men stand facing each other in conversation at an outdoor event. One man, wearing a blue blazer and jeans, holds a microphone while the other man, dressed in a blue Hawaiian shirt and red shorts, listens. The background features a crowd of people sitting on blankets, enjoying a beachside gathering.

Some fans even became real-life mermaids for this event, fully immersing themselves and swimming all the way through the night!

People enjoy a refreshing swim in a large outdoor pool during a movie screening event. The scene is set against a backdrop of mountains, with an inflatable movie screen showing the logo of Street Food Cinema. Several attendees, including some dressed as mermaids with colorful tails, relax and float in the water, preparing to watch a film as the sun sets.

As the sun set, D23 Members became a part of Ariel’s world—joining Flounder (voiced by Jason Marin), Sebastian (voiced by Samuel E. Wright), and other beloved characters on their magical adventure. Thanks to Street Food Cinema and our enthusiastic D23 members, this event truly made a splash!

Make sure to join us for our other outdoor screening collaborations this summer with Street Food Cinema, including Mary Poppins and The Incredibles. See ya real soon!