The BLOGFlume—Pleasant Surprises

Great news from Florida to Hollywood.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: January 26, 2005 at 9:15 PM

Cypress Is Back
The Ledger 1/22/05

Cypress Gardens seems to be having some problems. They’re having crowding problems and parking problems. It seems that the rejuvenated park has exceeded its own expectations, and on days that the park hosts concerts, the parking lot, which is designed to hold 1400 vehicles, overflows. Also, a number of guests who have tried to enter the park on busier days have actually walked away because the lines to enter the park can extend for over an hour. The park has topped the 200,000-guest mark in a little less than 3 months, and already has over 50,000 annual pass holders. The park is in the process of hiring 100 additional employees and will announce the addition of another roller coaster on February 1, 2005. According to owner Kent Buescher, the tracks for the coaster have already been completed and are in the process of being painted. Hopefully the coaster is not the universally panned Volare flying coaster that I wouldn’t ride on a dare. Regardless of what the new coaster is, it is still wonderful to see the park doing so great, and so far above expectations, because central Florida desperately needed a lower priced amusement option. Cypress Gardens has admirably filled that role, and unless it grows too big for its britches, the park will see many years of success.

Castles in the Sky
Screamscape 1/25/05

Screamscape and other Disney sources are reporting that Sleeping Beauty Castle is not the only Disney castle transforming for Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary. Cinderella Castle will also be seeing some changes to recognize Disneyland’s 50th. The castle will be draped in tapestries and trimmed in gold. There will also be a number of gold statues paying tribute to Disney characters and images throughout the years including Kaa the Snake, Simba, glass slippers, the Beast’s rose, Wendy, and Peter Pan. Also, there will be a giant “magic mirror” that will show images from the other Magic Kingdom parks around the world rotating throughout the day. It appears that the “global celebration” is really getting into high gear with tons of ads everywhere and many of the additions and improvements beginning to take shape. I was skeptical when many of these changes were announced, but from a theme park sector perspective, Disney is really staging an event that will be very special. Kudos to world-wide Disney park managers for working together to not only celebrate Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary, but making every park in the Disney empire better.

Oscar Time 1/25/05

Disney and its subsidiaries landed a total of 24 Oscar Nominations leading all studios. Time Warner was a close second with 22. The Aviator led all films with 11 nominations including Best Picture and Best Director, while Finding Neverland also garnered a Best Picture nomination. However, the big story for Disney was the 4 nominations for Pixar’s The Incredibles. Not only was the computer animated film nominated for Best Animated Film, but was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. It probably should have also landed a nomination for Best Score, but 4 nominations is still very strong for an animated film, especially considering that the most critically acclaimed film of the year, Sideways, only managed 5 nominations. Comparing this year to last, Disney’s box office success may have been less spectacular, but I think Disney was able to finish the year very strong, and make up for the pitiful start to the year with laughers like The Alamo and Home on the Range. See you on Oscar night on ABC (how convenient!), Sunday, February 27, 2005.

Readers' Opinions

From Derek Potter on January 26, 2005 at 9:44 PM
I'm happy for Cypress Gardens. People must have missed the place. You know it's good when the parking lot is overflowing.

Good news for Disney as well. I will even give credit to Disney's version of the Alamo. Even though it bombed at the box office, at least it was historically accurate...unlike every other Alamo movie I've seen.

I have yet to see The Aviator. Is it really as good as the Academy says it is?

From Robert Niles on January 26, 2005 at 10:43 PM
I'm interested in hearing folks' take on Finding Neverland. Is it a family film, or a boring period piece that would put kids to sleep?
From J. Dana on January 26, 2005 at 11:56 PM
I LOVED finding Neverland...although I thought parts could have been improved. Will it put kids to sleep? Probably. I wouldn't classify this as a kid's movie necessarily. It's not objectionable in any way that I can remember, but it doesn't really cater to the kiddie crowd. It's more for adults who've forgotten what it's like to child-like. Kids already know (and will roll their eyes and say "we already knew that.")

Great film!

From John Erb on January 27, 2005 at 10:27 AM
Great to see all the Disney Parks getting onto the anninversary celebration! When does the celebration officially kickoff? How long will they be going with it? Anything else coming to WDW as part of the celebration?
From Russell Meyer on January 27, 2005 at 1:35 PM
I think that Finding Neverland is overrated. Johnny Depp's performance is great, but that's where the greatness of this film stops. The plot is rather slow in the beginning with monumental overacting from Kate Winslet, almost so much that it almost hurt her chances of getting a nomination for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The ending is highly contrived and "tacked-on," in typical Weinstein fashion, and the actual Pan scenes are far from mesmerizing. Universal's adaptation of Peter Pan last year, which I thought was rather pedestrian, tops the Pan scenes in Finding Neverland. Finding Neverland is a "good" movie, but probably should have stepped aside in the Best Picture category for Eternal Sunshine or Hotel Rwanda.
From Ryan Jones on January 27, 2005 at 4:53 PM
I'm assuming Johnny Depp is playing a "misunderstood creative-type"?
From Russell Meyer on January 27, 2005 at 6:06 PM
Actually he plays JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and the story follows his creation of the character and befriending of a window (Kate Winslet), and her children.
From Jason Lester on January 27, 2005 at 7:08 PM
I hated last year's "Peter Pan" and thought it was absolutely terrible. "Finding Neverland" was an inspirational, great film, but does get draggy. Kids won't like it. I did.
From J. Dana on January 28, 2005 at 12:44 PM
To Ryan (and Russell): Yup, he plays another misunderstood creative type. Which is par for the course for him. I actually saw the film with the screenwriter, who answered questions after the showing.

Russell, I think you're a little off on this say last year's Peter Pan movie had better "Pan scenes"...well, let's hope so, because that movie was about the character of Peter Pan. Finding Neverland, however, was about JM Barrie, the writer of the Peter Pan stories. So the "Pan" scenes in Neverland were simply glimpses into the mind of the writer. As such, they were understated--they were hints and glimpses. There never are really any real Pan scenes...they were simply Neverland scenes. The whole theme and point of the movie wasn't Peter Pan himself so much, but rather, finding your own personal Neverland. Kate Winslet was perfect in this role. And your comment about the ending being contrived and tacked, dude, the ending was super. AND, according to the screenwriter, the ending was based on what actually happened in this situation. I'm not sure exactly what part of the ending you're talking about, but the last 15 mintues of the film I saw were beautiful. There was actually one additional scene I would have liked to be at the end of the scene I think would have made it better, but oh well. I don't understand your "contrived" statemant at all. Or your "tacked on" statement. But, opinions are like [fill in blank]--everyone has one.

And one more thing. Russell, hope you don't think I'm picking on ya...but I agree with your statement that "the story follows his creation of the character and befriending of a window." But do know that Kate Winslett was the "widow" (no "n") in the movie. I got a laugh, because actually, windows and doors and passageways were hugely symbolic in the film. So, in essence, he did befriend windows....but I digress...

From Russell Meyer on January 28, 2005 at 1:29 PM
Kate Winslet's performance was WAY over the top. Cough , Cough, boo hoo...Her performance really ruined the movie for me, because I grew almost upset with her and her denial, not sympathetic as I believe you're supposed to feel in order to make the ending work. The movie just didn't do it for me, and yes I do realize the movie was about JM Barrie envisioning the Pan mythology, not about Peter Pan himself. However, I felt that the scenes about the mythology could have been better executed. The entire movie could have benefitted by some mixing of the chronology. The straight telling of the story from beginning to end hinders the plot as it plods along at a snail's pace. Mixing up the scenes could have also helped out the schmultzy "Hollywood" ending and given the movie a little more "magic" that is suggested in the trailers. Finding Neverland is taking up a spot on the Best Picture list that should really be for Eternal Sunshine, Passion of the Christ, Hotel Rwanda, or Kinsey. And there's a reason why Winslet was nominated for her performance in Eternal Sunshine, and NOT Finding Neverland. Don't get me wrong, Finding Neverland is a good movie, but I just didn't get all warm and fuzzy when I watched it like a lot of Oscar voters obviously did. I would feel the same way if Closer had been nominated for Best Picture, as it was another "upper eschelon" movie that underperformed as a whole, but contained a couple of superb performances (Clive Owen and Natalie Portman).
From Justin Smith on January 28, 2005 at 4:45 PM
Though I didn't see Finding Neverland, I did see the Aviator. I saw a news article that had reviews like "totally inspirational" and Two Big Thumbs UP". So I went to see it on Christmas Day and to tell you the truth I would have rather stayed home and watch the Christmas Day Parade At Disneyland on t.v. The film is totally overrated. Once again Ledenardo Decaprio(sorry if I spelled wrong) showed an overrated performance like he did in the Titanic. I also didn't like that the film showed information on Howard Hughes which nobody really knows whether it's true or not ( I hate when they do that). Plus it was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. This made Return of the King seem to have a chance too get nominated for best short film. I hope it wins zero oscar like Gangs of New York did( which also had the same director). I'm glad the Incredibles got four nominations but I wish it got nominated for best picture since the Aviator didn't seem to deserve the nomination. Though I have see Eturnal Sunrise or whatever movie that stared Jim Carry but I bet it was way way way better than the Aviator. The special effects in that movie was good though.
From Derek Potter on January 29, 2005 at 11:02 AM
Scorsese has a knack for directing movies that are about a thousand years long. I haven't seen it, but I have a feeling that it's overrated. I liked Gangs of New York, but I've never been a fan of DiCaprio. Did the Aviator touch on any of Hughes' life in Vegas?
From Chuck Campbell on January 31, 2005 at 8:09 PM
The Aviator is good, but I don't think Scorsese has directed a great movie since Goodfellas. It doesn't touch on Hughes's life in Vegas (just Hollywood), but does present a look at what he'll become.

Here's an easy trivia question: Name the Disney flick that featured Howard Hughes as a character.

From Robert Niles on January 31, 2005 at 9:21 PM
From patrick sayre on February 2, 2005 at 3:58 PM
How do I remember this? Jennifer Connelly of course...yummmmmmmm
From Chuck Campbell on February 2, 2005 at 7:58 PM
Yep--Rocketeer. There's a good theme park attraction in that flick, I think. Pity it wasn't a hit.

And, yes, let's not forget Jennifer Connelly . . .

From Robert Niles on February 2, 2005 at 8:14 PM
Back when she was eating food, too!

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