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The Science Behind the Magic: Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

The Disney Imagination Campus team
by The Disney Imagination Campus team

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid, let’s make a splash and go under the sea to see how the science of sound helps Guests dive into the story of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid at Disney’s Magic Kingdom!

Let’s explore the science behind the magic of this attraction to discover how sound waves are used to create the immersive story Guests experience when they board a clam shell to become a part of Ariel’s world.  


What is it? Frequency is one aspect of a sound wave. It refers to the number of vibrations per second of a sound. The more vibrations per second, the higher the frequency, the higher the note or pitch of the sound and vice versa. 

How do we use it? Ariel and each of her friends have distinctive voices. The pitch (lowness or highness) of each of their voices is the result of a change in frequency. These changes in frequency help you identify who is speaking and connect you to the story that is being told.  

Where do we use it? Consider Ariel, our heroine. She has a high vocal pitch compared to Ursula’s low tones. Both voices evoke a different emotional response.


What is it? Volume is how we perceive the amount of energy in a sound wave, or how loud or soft the sound appears to our ears. 

How do we use it? Under the Sea with Ariel and her friends, has a wide range of sounds that reach our ears at a variety of volumes, all specifically designed to immerse you into the story. 

Where do we use it? From Ariel and her friends speaking and singing to the background music, the different changes in volume engage your senses. As passengers travel from scene to scene, the sounds merge seamlessly with the voices and music that you hear, making you truly feel a part of the story.

How would your experience be different if there were no sound at all? How would you feel? Would it affect the storytelling? 

Next time you splash Under the Sea with Ariel and her friends or visit any of our other attractions, keep an open ear for how the science of sound makes you a part of the story. 

Ready to learn more? Check out the Energy & Waves Physics Lab at Walt Disney World Resort for a discovery of the real-world application of science, technology, engineering, art, and math at some of our most popular attractions! Sign-up for our e-newsletter to stay up to date on all things Disney Youth Programs and be sure to check out all of our Disney Youth Education Series programs where we make our parks your classroom.

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