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The kingdom keepers [I]. [Disney after dark]
2007
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  Publishers Weekly Review

This far-fetched, high-concept story will find an audience despite its fuzzy premise and the creaky workings of its plot. Finn Whitman, 13, is one of five "hologram hosts," middle-school students whose likenesses have been digitally captured so they can appear constantly, guiding visitors around Disney's Magic Kingdom. Finn awakens one night, inside the park, as his hologram self. He's met by Wayne, one of the original "Imagineers," who tells Finn that all five hosts are needed to solve a riddle left by Walt to prevent the villainous "Overtakers" from wreaking havoc inside the gates and throughout the world. Their mission to solve the puzzle, which involves 3-D glasses and trips inside rides such as It's a Small World and Splash Mountain is enough fun that most readers will set aside some nagging questions (e.g., how did Walt, who died five years before the park opened, leave clues inside structures that hadn't been built yet, and why are a bunch of seventh-graders the only ones who can save the place?). The threat rings hollow anyway. Only one "Overtaker" materializes-Maleficent, the witch from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Finn is the sole fleshed-out character (the two girl hosts are given little to do and seem indistinguishable), and some passages read like an ad (as when Wayne catologues the Disney empire: "the Disney parks, the cruise line, the Broadway shows, the Web sites, Disney on Ice"). Still, with Finn and friends traversing tunnels and battling the creepy Audio-Animatronic characters, readers will likely line up for this ride. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

  School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Thirteen-year-old Finn and several of his friends become holograms at Florida's Disney World and then find themselves literally pulled into nighttime adventures in the theme park. Ridley Pearson's fantasy (Disney Editions, 2005) is fast paced and technologically savvy. Finn and his friends make repeated forays after hours into the very guts of such Disney icons as Tom Sawyer's Island, It's a Small World, Adventure Mountain, and other rides both tame and wild as they lay siege to Maleficent, an evil witch whose minions are at work to destroy the Disney mystique. The kids hang out at the park looking for signs and signals that will aid them in their nighttime quest for securing Disney power. Their parents are mildly suspicious, but Finn and his pals are fast talkers, willing to face their nighttime nemeses alone, rather than bringing in adult forces. Gary Littman reads with a variety of accents, some of which are less successful than others, and it's easy to differentiate among both kids and adults. Given how much Disney has seeped into the very core of Americana, most listeners will be able to understand the references and will know for whom Maleficent is a foil. While the details about why one would become a hologram for Disney are slighted, the sleuthing aspect of the tale has universal appeal.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
In this fantastical thriller, five young teens tapped as models for theme park "guides" find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls. Using a cutting-edge technology called DHI&mdashwhich stands for both Disney Host Interactive and Daylight Hologram Imaging&mdashFinn Whitman, an Orlando teen, and four other kids are transformed into hologram projections that guide guests through the park. The new technology turns out, however, to have unexpected effects that are both thrilling and scary. Soon Finn finds himself transported in his DHI form into the Magic Kingdom at night. Is it real? Is he dreaming? Finn's confusion only increases when he encounters Wayne, an elderly Imagineer who tells him that the park is in grave danger. Led by the scheming witch, Maleficent, a mysterious group of characters called the Overtakers is plotting to destroy Disney's beloved realm, and maybe more. This gripping high-tech tale will thrill every kid who has ever dreamed of sneaking into Walt Disney World after hours and wondered what happens at night, when the park is closed.
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