Reviewed -- Summer 2007

New Mystery set in Disney WorldThe Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark

by Ridley Pearson

Disney Editions/Hyperion Paperbacks for Children
Ages 9-up
336 pages

They are familiar enemies -- Ursla, Blackbeard and the legion of Disney witches that scare us on and off screen, and at the famous Disney parks. But they are fictional characters, and Disney is all about "happy". In fact, striding along the spotless roads in the famed Florida-based Walt Disney World, it is hard to imagine sinister among the throngs of tourists, towering architecture, gaily decorated souvenir carts, and entrances to exciting exhibits.

But after the park closes, things are different. And this comes clear to one boy one summer night when, quite against his will, he learns of sinister doings behind park doors that are behind a growing threat to the park, and the world at large.

It all began when Finn Whitman took a job as a park guide at Walt Disney World. He won it through an audition, along with four other young teens --- Charlene, Willa, Maybeck and Philby. New technology was going to create walking "hologram" images of each, so that their ghostly projections could serve as hosts, and guide guests throughout various areas of the Magic Kingdom. The technology, called "DHI", which stood for "Disney Host Interactive", was the exciting new invention of the Disney Imagineers at Disney-MGM Studios. Finn's mother is thrilled at the chance for her son to grow a college fund, and though the experience is a bit "other worldly", Finn and his fellow hosts consider it "cool" to be on staff at Walt Disney World.

Things aren't so cool, however, when Finn starts finding himself in the Magic Kingdom quite unexpectedly in the middle of the night. After meeting up with his fellow Disney hosts and taking orders from an elderly, rather-ghostly imagineer named Wayne, Finn and his friends realize they've been enlisted to stop a dangerous group of Disney villians who were cooking up some evil plans. With their special new powers and personal strengths they work together in a breathtaking, mind-bending race to save the future of Walt Disney World --- and even the world.

The mix of puzzleology, computer science, and real-teen-world backdrop, make this book a must for teen readers. An added plus: secret facts and fun imagery regarding beloved Disney park sites, including the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Cinderella's Castle. Whether you're personally familiar with this particular Disney park or not, after reading this book you'll come away with a healthy respect of Disney Villians, and Walt Disney himself.

Review by D.

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