Research clearly shows that children who don’t read during summer vacation can lose up to three months of reading progress. On my journey to model good reading behavior, over the past few weeks I’ve read the entire Kingdom Keepers’ series by Ridley Pearson. He has four books in the series: Disney after Dark, Disney at Dawn, Disney in Shadow, and Power Play.
Each book in the series focuses on one Disney theme park. Disney After Dark introduces Finn Whitman and his fellow DHI (Disney Host Interactive or Daylight Hologram Imaging) friends. The main conflict, like all good Disney stories, is good vs. evil. Maleficent and her evildoer friends are trying to destroy the magic in the parks. The DHIs are needed to solve secret codes and clues left behind by Walt Disney to restore the magic and defeat the Overtakers. The remaining books in the series expound on this same idea.
Disney at Dawn is set in Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom doesn’t feature as many Disney villains; so here the Overtakers are manipulating the animals and turning them into DHIs. I didn’t find the setting in this book terribly exciting.
Disney in Shadow is set in Epcot; however, a lot of the action set in Epcot’s old Horizon’s building. The book came out in 2010, long after Horizon’s closing. What makes the books fun for Disney fans is that they do feature well-known locations and attractions. I think Pearson missed the boat with the third book.
Power Play has the Keepers all over Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom. Person does an excellent job stepping up the plot in this forth installment. The story introduces the “good” characters like Ariel wanting to help the Keepers. The twists and turns held my attention throughout the novel. You gotta wonder, where’s Mickey Mouse?
The books provide enough exposition from the previous books that it isn’t necessary to read them all or to read them in order. There are some liberties taken with Disney geography. For example, you can’t take the monorail from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For the most part, these inaccuracies don’t detract from the story.
The books are adventurous, but after the first book, the second and third installments did not, in my opinion, introduce enough new information to keep the plot fresh. However, the preteen Disney fan will no doubt find the stories interesting.
Tracie A. Cook is the author of Kid Tips for Walt Disney World: Touring Advice by Kids for Kids & the award-winning Walt Disney World Adventure: A Field Guide and Activity Book for Explorers. You can follow her on Twitter @WDWFieldGuide or become a fan of Vacation Field Guides on Facebook.