July 23, 2015
By now you are all in the midst of summer, hopefully enjoying a well-deserved vacation from school. These summer months have made me want to read books about vacation as well. I was happy to discover that a number of titles take place in…theme parks! I recently saw the movie Tomorrowland, which features an awesome girl character who is interested in science, outer space, and fixing things that need fixing. She ends up in possession of a mysterious pin which takes her on a great adventure to the futuristic world of Tomorrowland. There is an interesting part that takes place at the New York World Fair in 1964, where the Disney Park's ride “It’s a Small World” was first premiered. (Admittedly this is not my favourite ride that I have ever been on, and that song can get stuck in your head.)
I myself have always been a fan of theme parks, from the big, shiny, efficient ones like Disney World to the small, slightly seedy ones like Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY.
Here are some library titles I found that take place in theme parks:
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom takes place at a Disney World far into the future, where death has been cured and no one ever gets diseases. You can simply download your mind into a fresh clone of your body whenever you die. If you get tired of living, you can “deadhead” for a while—aka shut down your body and mind until a computer tells you that the world has created something that might interest you again. Jules is living his third life with his girlfriend and working at Disney World. His favourite attraction is the Haunted Mansion and he specialises in crowd control (an important factor to consider at a busy amusement park). When a couple other workers change the Hall of Presidents drastically from the classic attraction it has been in the past (they blast images directly into people’s brains!) Jules gets upset but before he can do anything about it, he is mysteriously murdered. When his mind gets put into a fresh clone once again, Jules is determined to get to the bottom of who killed him and to fight with his friends to protect his beloved Haunted Mansion from the same fate as the Hall of Presidents. It was refreshing to read about a future where, though it has its downsides, the world isn’t a completely miserable dystopia (as much as I love dystopian fiction).
Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
All the characters have gone on strike at Disney World to protest for better working conditions. In the meantime, Disney World has hired teenagers for the summer to take their places. Ella is Cinderella. She wears a fancy dress and gets “married” every day to Prince Charming (Mark, her boyfriend) at three o’clock. Luke plays Dale the chipmunk and his girlfriend Cassie plays Chip. However, it becomes apparent that Ella and Luke have a lot more in common than they do with Mark and Cassie. These feelings they have for each other are further complicated by the fact that Ella is still dealing with the grief of a tragic event in her family and Luke is feeling more and more trapped by the way his family seems to have decided the course of his whole life. The cover makes the book seem like it’ll be a bit of light entertainment, and while there is plenty of that there is a lot more beneath the surface.
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
Zoe and her cousin Jess have been hired at Fairyland, a theme park in their home state of New Jersey. Jess wants to be one of the princesses, and Zoe just wants a job to take her mind off of her grief over the death of her mother, while at the same time reconnecting with her mother’s spirit (Zoe’s mother used to take her to the former incarnation of Fairyland, called Storytown, when she was a little girl). Jess also wants to win the $25000 Dream and Do Grant which is awarded by Fairyland at the end of the summer to the employee who shows the “Wow!™” spirit. Jess’ family is in financial trouble so she needs money to help her attend Tisch School of the Arts in New York, and Zoe wants to help her cousin win. When they get to Fairyland, Jess ends up as a secondary character and Zoe ends up as the “lady-in-waiting” to the boss of Fairyland, aka “The Queen”, who could give Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada a run for her money. For example, she makes Zoe block out any mention of “The Mouse” from “that other theme park in Florida” in her morning newspaper. On top of that, Zoe gets rescued one night when she runs into the “Forbidden Zone” after the Queen’s dog, Tinkerbell, by one of the Park’s Princes. She finds herself in something of a predicament—should she keep her rescuer (who was also in the Forbidden Zone) a secret? Or tell the Queen and keep her chances of winning the Dream and Do Grant for her cousin? There are a lot of laughs and great twists—it definitely did not turn out as predictable as I thought it would be when I started reading it.
Steam Park by Filippo Neri and Piero Ruggeri
This graphic novel has no dialogue but still manages to tell a compelling story. Five kids get kidnapped by the scary park owner and forced to work as slaves running the merry-go-round. When a short circuit causes a jack-o-lantern and some toys to come alike, they enlist the help of an alcoholic old clown to help them save the children and stop the evil park owner once and for all. There was one page in the book where it was a little unclear to me what exactly was happening, but it wasn’t too vital to the plot. The art goes back and forth from funny to creepy in an effective way.