WRITER'S NOTE: The following facts can echo into the same period of the mid-2000s, where the Disney studio was put under new management. It should also be noted that the studio has also had many highs and lows, particularly following dismal periods (such as the 1940s, the late-fifties, and the late-nineties/early-2000s, to name a few).
The early eighties were a transition period for the animation department at the Walt Disney studios. "The Fox and the Hound" in 1981 represented a "passing of the baton" from one generation of animators to the next. The latter would be responsible for the hit films that would come out later in the decade and into the early nineties.
One year after new management was brought into the studio in 1984 (consisting of Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Roy E. Disney), "The Black Cauldron"--the most expensive animated film at the time--was released, only to become a financial low point in the animation department's history. Fortunately, the release of "The Great Mouse Detective" the following year would ensure that the animators (and therefore, the studio) were back on the right track and would bring about a renaissance that would remind people of the magic and significance of Disney. On the way there, they went to the bottom of the sea and arose with a little mermaid.