Originally, Sebastian was to have an English accent. It was lyricist/producer Howard Ashman who suggested he be Jamaican. This opened the door to calypso-style numbers like “Under the Sea”, which won the Academy Award.
Jodi Benson had starred in a short-lived 1986 Broadway musical based on the film Smile (1975), which had a score by Howard Ashman and Marvin Hamlisch. When casting for the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, it was Ashman who recommended Benson to producers.
Previous to The Little Mermaid, the songs for animated films were written beforehand. With this film, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman worked alongside directors John Musker and Ron Clements throughout the whole storyboarding process, in order to make the songs a more organic part of the film.
Menken and Ashman were brought to the attention of Disney Animation Chair Jeffrey Katzenberg by longtime colleague (and future Dreamworks co-founder) David Geffen, who was producing the team’s off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors.
This film was the most effects-animation-heavy Disney animated feature since Fantasia (1940). Even with much of the rain effects being lifted from Pinocchio (1940), the two-minute storm sequence alone still took 10 special effects animators over a year to finish. Effects animation supervisor Mark Dindal estimated that over a million bubbles were drawn for this film, in addition to the use of other processes such as airbrushing, back lighting, superimposition, and some flat-shaded computer animation.
When The Little Mermaid earned four Golden Globe nominations in 1990, it not only became the first full-length animated feature film to be nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, but it also became the first animated feature to be nominated for a Best Picture Golden Globe Award, of any genre, in general. Even though it did not win, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) would later on to become the first animated feature film to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), two years later. – IMDB