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[SPOILER] Makes A Memorable Cameo In The Live-Action The Little Mermaid

The live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" boasts an impressive cast and dazzling musical numbers led by Halle Baily's acclaimed performance as Ariel. So far, fans on Twitter have had positive reactions that align with the early reactions from critics and moviegoers. They also praise Melissa McCarthy's lively portrayal of Ursula the sea witch, as well as a surprising and delightful cameo.

The original animated classic premiered in 1989 and broke the 30-year absence of Disney princesses since 1959's "Sleeping Beauty." That aspect elevated the prominence of Ariel and her role as a beloved icon, which many grasped onto during the awe-inspiring film. Given the importance of the character, it was only right to include a very special guest during the second half of the 2023 reimagining. 

After Ursula's (Melissa McCarthy) sinister spell transforms the young mermaid, Ariel trades her fins for legs and ascends to the surface of the ocean. She reconnects with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauser-King) and enjoys a colorful day in the royal kingdom while sampling the many offerings on land. Among the welcoming locals, one helpful vendor happens to be none other than Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original animated treasure. 

Jodi Benson passes the torch as Ariel in an unforgettable way

Even though Ariel is unable to speak during this exciting exchange, Jodi Benson's captivating presence more than makes up for it. She grabs both Ariel's and our attention when a familiar voice passes on an iconic prop. Benson's appearance as a market vendor isn't clear at first but the sound of the original Ariel's voice will certainly have the audience's ears perked up before her big reveal.

She holds up a fork and tells Ariel she may be needing it — Ariel then misuses the renowned "dinglehopper" by running it through her hair. In both versions of "The Little Mermaid," the seagull Scuttle (Buddy Hackett/Awkwafina) mistakes the instrument for a comb, leading to a loving joke between the two Ariels. It even serves another greater and heartwarming purpose as she forks the "dinglehopper" over to Halle Bailey. 

As Benson gives her the fitting gift, it also feels like a passing of the torch moment between the two actresses that crowns Bailey as the new Ariel. This loving inclusion pays homage to Benson's heartfelt depiction while also celebrating Bailey's groundbreaking role. In a story about combining two worlds, this is a wonderful interaction that seamlessly threads the two versions of "The Little Mermaid" together. 

Jodi Benson was excited to return to the world of The Little Mermaid

The scene in which Halle Bailey's Ariel receives the dinglehopper was always present in the script, but the idea of bringing Benson in manifested a bit later. While discussing her cameo with Entertainment Weekly, Benson expressed just how excited she was to return to the world of "The Little Mermaid" and work with director Rob Marshall, her friend for over four decades. "It was just a huge thrill for me when Robbie reached out," Benson said. "I'm like, 'Of course I'm gonna come! I don't care what I'm doing. I just can't wait to get around the set and watch all of you work...'" For Marshall, it was important to fold Benson into the film in a way that felt organic and not "stunt-y." The director also told the outlet that having the two Ariels on set was a major win that brought the cast and crew together.

"The Little Mermaid" continues to receive praise for its lead performances, with Halle Bailey consistently singled out for her take on Ariel. While Bailey is receiving her fair share of love from Disney fans across the world, it's Jodi Benson's approval that has her jumping for joy. "She told me how proud she was of me and how I'm handling everything, and encouraged me to just go for it," Bailey said about the Ariel voice actor in a chat with the Los Angeles Times. "I appreciate her for being so warm and welcoming to me because she's the GOAT, and it was important to me to get her stamp of approval."