For many kids, though, the showing may be their first exposure to Ariel. Many 5-year-olds are likely find watching Ariel trying to walk on those new legs of hers exciting enough, without a barrage of stimuli from other sources.
"The main issue for me is from a storytelling perspective," said Yalda Uhls, a researcher at UCLA's Children's Digital Media Center and regional director for Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that provides guidelines for parents. "It's really important to engage children in storytelling and it's already hard to do that today when there are so many different distractions and stimulations everywhere."
She added: "To bring something that's distracting into a movie theater — it just doesn't seem that it's going to ultimately help the studios with the goal of creating value for their library or for creating future moviegoers."
Clearly, though, marketers face a challenge of how to attract each new generation to the movies. Disney tested the technology last year with five free screenings of "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Hollis said the audience response was 97% positive, with many attendees describing the experience as closer to something they would get at one of the company's theme parks than at a regular movie theater.
Though Disney said it isn't committing to more second-screen experiences at this time, should the experiment work the company said it would be interested in using the technology to extend a film's theatrical run. Imagine, for example, that after "Iron Man 3" has been in theaters for four or six weeks you could go back and see it a second time, with your iPad allowing you to ride along more closely with Tony Stark's adventures.
With the Marvel comics properties as well as George Lucas' "Star Wars" films now under Disney's umbrella, the studio has a plethora of opportunities to make second-screen apps for die-hard fans looking for additional content.
Greg Webb of Valley Village, who brought his 3-year-old daughter, Tabitha, to a Friday morning showing of "The Little Mermaid," said he wasn't sure young kids are actually the best demographic for second-screen experiences.
"I don't think it's a good idea for kids. It kind of defeats the purpose," he said in the hallway of the theater, taking a play-break mid-movie with his daughter. "We come to the movies to get her off of the electronics at home."
He added: "I could see it as more of an adult thing, where I'd come with a group of friends and answer trivia questions."