MickeyBlog News for December 22, 2019
This week in Disney news, a Skywalker rose, a new resort opened, a character breakfast debuted, Disney confirmed some train plans, and an idiot tries to bring a gun into a Disney park.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Dominates the Box Office
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the climactic film from the third Star Wars trilogy has become an instant global blockbuster. While Disney hedged its bets with a modest $160 million projection for North America, everyone else in the industry felt more optimistic about the film’s prospects.
Sure enough, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker grossed a scintillating $175 million domestically. Worldwide, the ninth Star Wars movie grabbed $374 million.
To place that number into perspective, remember that Frozen 2 just crossed $1 billion last week. The latest Star Wars movie will beat that total within its first month. From a financial perspective, Disney executives are grinning ear-to-ear right now.
Some Concerns about The Rise of Skywalker
The news isn’t 100 percent positive, though. The Rise of Skywalker has received the second-lowest Rotten Tomatoes (RT) score, lowest Cinemascore (CS), and second-lowest Metacritic (MC) score in franchise history (not counting the animated movie, The Clone Wars.)
Here are some numbers that demonstrate the film’s potential word-of-mouth issues:
Star Wars: A New Hope – 93% RT score, 90% MC
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – 94% RT score, 82% MC
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – 82% RT score, 58% MC
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – 53% RT score, 51% MC, A- CS
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones – 65% RT score, 54% MC, A- CS
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith – 80% RT score, 68% MC, A- CS
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 93% RT score, 81% MC, A CS
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 83% RT score, 65% MC, A CS
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 91% RT score, 85% MC, A CS
Solo: A Star Wars Story – 70% RT score, 62% MC, A- CS
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – 57% RT score, 54% MC, B+ CS
Out of 11 live-action films in the Star Wars universe, The Rise of Skywalker finished 10th in critical reception, tied for 9th/10th in media reception, and last in Cinemascore. In layperson’s terms, critics were apathetic about the movie while audiences didn’t like it as much as prior Star Wars films.
Cinemascore employs a weird scoring system. B+ may sound good, but it’s actually the average score. So, the average opening-day viewer found Rise of Skywalker just okay.
A Bit More on Rise of Skywalker
Three of my former contributors at my site are official Rotten Tomatoes critics. One loved it, one thought it was fine, and one despised it. After conversing with several friends in film criticism, someone put forth an idea that seems valid.
The people who loathed The Last Jedi – and they were a vocal number of Star Wars fans who felt this way – are happy with The Rise of Skywalker. The rationale is that it largely sidestepped the problematic aspects of its predecessor.
Conversely, the people who greatly enjoyed The Last Jedi – and it’s my favorite Star Wars movie – felt disappointed. After all, many of the ideas from it got tossed aside in The Rise of Skywalker. In particular, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose takes a backseat in this film. And director JJ Abrams discards several of Rian Johnson’s ideas from The Last Jedi.
I’ve read a lot of social media comments that support this notion. What I’ve also noticed is that Star Wars fans are generally quite positive about this movie.
My wife, who has many pairs of Star Wars socks but also has hundreds of movie reviews under her belt, told me something honest. She said that she agreed with many of the flaws with the film. Still, she smiled throughout the proceedings anyway. It just made her happy as a Star Wars fan. That’s really all any of us could possibly want, right?
Disney’s Riviera Resort Is Now Open
A few years ago, Disney announced the intent to take some land from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and use it better. Since then, Imagineers have worked hard to construct a Deluxe Tier resort in this area.
Technically a Disney Vacation Club property, Disney’s Riviera Resort is available for anyone to book. And you really should stay here at some point, preferably soon. Disney has modeled this resort after 1930s era Western Europe, the place where Walt, Roy, and Lillian Disney loved to vacation.
The décor here is impeccable, with Spanish and French touches throughout the facility. The Disney touch is unmistakable, as well. A spectacular mural of Tangled adorns two walls and the ceiling of one walkway from the Disney Skyliner to the hotel lobby. It’s absolutely dazzling to behold.
Speaking of the Skyliner, this hotel features a station. So, its logistics rival the monorail resorts. You can grab a gondola from just beyond the hotel lobby and ride directly to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The Riviera is absolutely breathtaking. You should speak with a MickeyTravels agent to book a hotel stay there one day in the near future. You’ll have an unforgettable experience for sure.
Another Meal with Mickey & Friends!
I’m a character meal addict. I have the world’s dullest social media photos because I’m not much of a shutterbug. However, I make an exception whenever I’m dining at Disney because I love the characters so much.
For this reason, I’ve excitedly read all of the reviews for Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends! It’s the new character meal at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. Yes, that’s the rooftop restaurant at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
This breakfast marries ambiance with adorability. The setting is pristine, with stylish Western European décor and plenty of Disney charm. But the star here is the Fantastic Four of Minnie & Mickey Mouse and Donald & Daisy Duck. They hold court while wearing the most fabulous outfits.
Mickey has taken up painting as a hobby, while Minnie’s developed a flair for poetry. In an unexpected turn, Donald’s quite the sculptor, while Daisy’s tutu hints that she’s a dancing diva. It’s the most atmospheric character meal at Walt Disney World…and the view’s pretty great, too!
Better Than Magical Express?
Almost two years ago, MickeyBlog covered a rumor about a high-speed rail system coming to Walt Disney World. At the time, Virgin Trains USA was readying an express railway system in various parts of Florida. A company formerly known as Brightline connected West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami via high-speed train tracks.
Speculation ensued about when Virgins Trains USA would add Orlando to the coverage area. After all, it’s a wildly popular tourist destination. The company and local/state officials indicated at the time that such a project made sense. However, everyone played coy about the details.
Then, Virgin Trains USA received the requisite funding and permits to build in Orlando. The project began in March of 2019 and should complete by the end of 2022, possibly sooner. Well, this week, Disney and the railway company both acknowledged that the companies are in advanced talks for a train station at Walt Disney World.
This proposed station would link several popular parts of Florida together, and more would join during later development stages. Importantly, Virgin Trains has already begun work on a location at Orlando International Airport.
So, a connection from the airport to Walt Disney World seems exceptionally likely in the near future. It’ll revolutionize the way that guests get to the parks after a long flight. It also might make Magical Express a bit redundant.
Proof that Disney’s Security Measures Work
Here’s a story that genuinely horrified me. Like many of you, I have plenty of friends in Florida. I also happened to have an immediate family member visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom the other day. On that date, a moron tried to take a firearm into the park.
I wish I were making this up. A Boynton Beach resident tried to walk through the security area for guests without bags. He had a backpack when he attempted to do so, which caused Disney’s security staff to spring into action. They discovered a loaded 9mm gun in his backpack.
The perpetrator/really dumb criminal claimed that he had forgotten that he had the gun. His actions belied this fact, and the security team busted him. Park officials gave him a trespassing warning and confiscated his weapon. While this story has raised my confidence in Disney security measures, it also makes me want to hug my brother the next time I see him.
Have the happiest of holidays, everyone!