The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water is a 2002 direct-to-video animated adventure musical film and the ninth film in The Land Before Time series. It was produced and directed by Charles Grosvenor. This is also the last film to use the soundtrack composed by James Horner. During the year this was released, Universal brought back on DVD, for the first time, two of the previous Land Before Time films; The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure and The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving.
When heavy rains create a mysterious "new water", Littlefoot sets off to explore the Great Valley. He quickly becomes friends with Mo the mischievous Ophthalmosaurus who has been isolated from his pod by the weather. When Littlefoot and friends get separated from their parents because of an Earthshake, they help Mo get back home to the Big Water, while avoiding a hungry "Sharptooth Swimmer" (Liopleurodon). On the way, Littlefoot and Mo discuss such interesting and see dangerous things like imaginary friends, the Sharptooth Swimmer, the concept of loneliness, and the true meaning of a brother.
After a period of harsh rain, the Great Valley is partially flooded and covered in debris. Littlefoot rushes to find his friends after the storm ends, but they are preoccupied: Cera and her father are removing a large log from their nesting area, Ducky and Spike are relocating their nest with their family, and Petrie has gotten a cold. Littlefoot is bored and wishes intently for a brother, but eventually explores on his own and discovers a large area flooded by the rains. The adults advise their children to stay away, fearing creatures from the outside may have been washed into the Valley. However, Littlefoot returns and meets Mo, a playful young "swimmer"  that had been caught in the floodwater.
Littlefoot quickly strikes up a friendship with Mo, and describes him as his "mud brother" (a pun on blood brother). His other friends are unsure of Mo initially, but also take to him. Mo explains that he is from the "Big Water" and had flown into the valley during the flooding. He confirms that he is alone, but soon after a "sharptooh swimmer" attacks the group. Littlefoot requests help from the adults to help Mo return home, but they refuse, not wanting to risk leaving the Great Valley to aid a strange outsider. A subsequent earthshake separates the children and Mo from the rest of the Great Valley, though also imprisons the sharptooth swimmer in an underwater cavern. Unable to return, they decide to deliver Mo home on their own.
The children follow a river that they believe leads to the ocean. A Whiptailed Longneck mother, after a brief misunderstanding, allows them to take refuge at her nest for the night, and the friends are present to witness the hatching of her offspring. The next day, Littlefoot and the others realize that they are nearing the ocean, as they have begun to taste salt in the water. However, the sharptooth swimmer, having escaped from the cave, attacks them that night. The land surrounding the river is steep and slick with mud, and the children are unable to escape. Mo distracts the carnivore, farewells his friends, and lures the sharptooth down the river. Mo has seemingly been killed, but he reappears the next day, unharmed; the sharptooth swimmer had smelled the ocean in the distance and abandoned the chase, choosing to return to the sea.
The children reach the ocean, but Mo is saddened that his friends' must depart. He wishes to remain with them, but the others explain that he cannot, and Littlefoot reminds Mo that the two will always be brothers. Mo reunites with his family and asks them for directions to the "smoky mountains", as the children know how to find the Great Valley from that location. Before leaving, Mo offers to show Littlefoot his home. Littlefoot accepts the offer, and is amazed by the underwater world's beauty. Littlefoot and his friends exchange farewells with Mo and return home, where they are greeted warmly by the relieved adults.
- Thomas Dekker plays Littlefoot, the young "longneck"
- Aria Noelle Curzon plays Ducky, Spike's adoptive "swimmer" sister, who remains constantly cheery and optimistic.
- Anndi McAfee plays Cera, a stubborn "three-horn" who initially is hesitant to help return Mo to the sea.
- Jeff Bennett plays Petrie, a nervous "flyer" who speaks in broken English.
- Rob Paulsen plays Spike, Littlefoot's constantly hungry "spiketail" friend, and Mo, Littlefoot's newly dubbed "mud brother" who had been separated from his family and washed away from the ocean.
- John Ingle plays the film's narrator and Cera's abrasive and judgmental father.
- Kenneth Mars and Miriam Flynn play Grandpa Longneck and Grandma Longneck respectively. The two act as Littlefoot's guardians in lieu of his deceased mother. Additionally, Flynn voices the mother Diplodocus who Littlefoot and his friends encounter on their journey to the ocean.
- Tress MacNeille plays Ducky's mother, who also acts as Spike's adoptive mother.
The songs are written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom. Big Water is borrowed from The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, in which the songwriters also collaborated. This was the first Land Before Time film to contain more than three songs. This was the fourth time Spike sings; he can be heard humming during Big Water. Later, after Petrie yodels, so does Spike. The music that plays in the background when the gang cool off is the cheese factory scene music from An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island. This is the second and last time the music is used in the series, after The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze.
- Chanson D'Ennui ("Song of Boredom") - Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky and Petrie (Thomas Dekker, Anndi McAfee, Aria Noelle Curzon and Jeff Bennett)
- Imaginary Friend - Petrie, Littlefoot, Ducky and Cera (Jeff Bennett, Thomas Dekker, Aria Noelle Curzon and Anndi McAfee)
- Big Water (This reprise omits the verses of the original song but adds an extra line to the chorus) - Ducky, Spike, Littlefoot, Cera and Petrie (Aria Noelle Curzon, Rob Paulsen, Thomas Dekker, Anndi McAfee and Jeff Bennett)
- No One Has to Be Alone (the end credits version is sung by Donny Osmond; known as "You Never Have to be Alone" in some countries) - Littlefoot, Ducky, Cera, Petrie and Mother (Thomas Dekker, Aria Noelle Curzon, Anndi McAfee, Jeff Bennett and Miriam Flynn)
"If We Hold On Together" (instrumental)
Home video release historyEdit
- December 10, 2002 (VHS and DVD)
- December 2, 2003 (VHS and DVD - 9 Movie Dino Pack)
- February 7, 2006 (DVD - 2 Dino-Riffic Adventures)
- August 5, 2008 (Carrying Case DVD with Fun Activity Book - 2 Dino-Riffic Adventures - Universal Watch on the Go)
This was the first Land Before Time film in which the eggs are computer-animated; they can be seen when Littlefoot and his friends find Ducky in a female Diplodocus's nest. When the eggs hatch, hand-drawn elements are mapped onto each egg.