I think it is a French colony in the Caribbean. Here's why:
Sebastian is Caribbean
He is supposed to be a Jamaican Red Crab
There is a hurricane
French Colony because of the cook, the baguettes, the berets etc,
Also, in WHSmith there is a disney puzzle of the earth, and Ariel and Flounder are jumping out of the Gulf of Mexico
I think the story takes place somewhere on a European cost of the Mediterranean Sea (perhaps Greece). I based this off of several hints from the original story and the movie. For example:
- The prince is described as having coal black eyes and raven hair (this obviously doesn’t settle anything, but a Mediterranean/ Arabic prince is much more likely to be so dark than a central or northern European one)
- The beaches are described as having fine, white sand with lofty palm trees, orange trees, and citron trees (all three of which can only easily be grown in tropical to sub-tropical climates such as in the Mediterranean)
- The rolling green hills have grape vines on them (this at least rules out Denmark- see grape- growing regions of Europe below)
- The convent is specifically described as being built of white material (immediately putting one in mind of Mediterranean architecture) and the palace of yellow stone with long flights of marble steps, gilded cupolas, pillars, and marble statues (reminiscent of Greek and Italian architecture)
- The little mermaid was given robes of silk and muslin and wore silk and gold to the wedding (perhaps doesn’t mean much but that’s two of her outfits that include silk and silk was most widely popular in the Mediterranean where it was directly imported and later manufactured)
- The prince had female slaves who wore silk and gold and danced (that doesn’t sound European at all, that’s much more likely Middle Eastern)
- The chef is French and Ariel and Eric buy baguettes in the village (French influence)
- The castle architecture (see below) looks very similar to “Mediterranean architecture homes” (see below)
- Grapes shown in the village
- Palm trees shown in the village and palace
- Onion dome shown in village (possibly Middle Eastern influence)
- Arabic-style windows shown in the village (Middle Eastern influence)
- Sebastian originally was supposed to have an English accent instead of a Jamaican one. He was changed mostly to create a more specific musical style.
In conclusion, the best place in which you can find Middle Eastern, French, Greek, and Italian influences with a tropical climate is along the European shore in the Mediterranean. Possibly Greece.
It is definitely not clear, but there are several hints arguing that it's set in Denmark:
1. The Author (H C Andersen) is from Denmark
2. In the movie Ariel sits in the same position and on a similar stone as the statue 'The Little Mermaid' in Denmark.
4. Disney named the fish 'flounder' (a fish to be found in Denmark) even though he is obviously a more exotic fish.
3. Denmark have had several kings/princes through history named Eric.
4. Despise Andersen describing the beach the little mermaid wakes up on, as an exotic beach with palms and lemon trees, Disney portrays it as a typical scandinavian beach with only sand, grass and hills.
On Yahoo I heard it was set in Croatia. That is my best guess. Sorry. I say that because I really don't know but I suggest you compare the movie with Croatia and Denmark. The scene were Eric is throwing the flute the beach looks like Denmark but the town reminds me of Croatia.
In her hideout, Ariel sing in front of a painting named " La Madeleine à la flamme filante" a painting done around 1638/40 for the king of France. For the Disney movie, there is no certainty but If I had to pick a spot, it'll be around South of France.
Eric's Kingdom is most likely Danish as Hans Christian Andersen he refered in prince eric and his adventures off the coast where he met Ariel. It being Danish is also supported by Eric's reference to the kingdom of "Flowerhaven" regarding a political marriage that Eric declined, of which the name of the kingdom in question matched the naming convention of northern European countries.
Despite this, the creators indicated that they used Southern Mediterranean European Countries such as Italy for the setting.
In Eric's Dining hall, a portrait can be seen above the fireplace depicting a couple that looks suspiciously like Aurora and Phillip from Sleeping Beauty . Considering how large the painting is for an area that is for public dining, it's obvious that they have some importance to Eric's lineage. This may suggest they are Eric's ancestors, meaning Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid take place centuries from each other
So Eric's castle is located on the shore of a Danish-like country, surrounded by mountainous regions, making entry into the kingdom by land risky.
Plot twist: the worlds in Andersen's Little Mermaid and Disney's Little Mermaid both don't exist. Maybe instead of describing simply his home country or any one country, Andersen took bits and pieces from places he'd seen or heard about (Denmark, Greece, anywhere really) and combined these aspects to create his utopia. From his extremely detailed descriptions of the mermaid kingdom, which we know for sure isn't a real place, we know he has a large imagination. Perhaps he put it to use in describing his human world as well, and maybe Disney did the same.