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Literature / The Kingdom Keepers

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A series of novels written by Ridley Pearson, otherwise known for writing horror and suspense novels as well as another Disney series Peter and the Starcatchers, that take place in and around Walt Disney World.

Finn Whitman is an Ordinary High-School Student who lives in Orlando near Walt Disney World. He and four other teenagers from the area - Willa, a shy girl with a love for animals, Maybeck, a snarky distrusting boy, Charlene, an athletic girl, and Philby, a homework loving boy - are selected to be turned into DHIs, holographic hosts for the Magic Kingdom that would give prerecorded speeches to guests. However, soon after they find themselves being transported into the park at night when they fall asleep. There they learn from an elderly Imagineer named Wayne that they were chosen specifically to stop the plot of the Overtakers, a group of villains apparently led by Maleficent. The Overtakers scheme to take over the park and beyond, and since they start out Invisible to Normals, the Imagineers needed someone to stop them. Along the way, they have to deal with two mysterious girls: Amanda, a schoolmate of Finn's who has an interest in him, and Jez, a goth-like girl. Both of them appear to be hiding something.


The original series consists of seven books and one novella; another novella was released in 2015, leading into a Sequel Series trilogy, The Return:

  • The Kingdom Keepers #1: Disney After Dark (2005)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #2: Disney at Dawn (2008)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #3: Disney in Shadow (2010)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #4: Power Play (2011)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #5: Shell Game (2012)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #6: Dark Passage (2013)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #6.5: Unforeseen (2014; e-book novella)
  • The Kingdom Keepers #7: The Insider (2014)
  • The Syndrome (2015; novella)
  • The Return #1: Disney Lands (2015)
  • The Return #2: Legacy of Secrets (2016)
  • The Return #3: Disney at Last (2017)

A new series, Kingdom Kids (featuring the children of the now grown Kingdom Keepers), has been announced.


The books provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy:
  • All Part of the Show: The final battle in the first book.
    • As well as several other confrontations.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Finn's parents.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Amery Hollingsworth and his Legacy of Secrets.
  • Antagonist Title: Legacy of Secrets refers to Amery Hollingsworth and his Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • Anti-Climax: The finale of the first book. Wayne and the Kingdom Keepers gather together in Cinderella Castle to see the effects of Walt Disney's first pen, which is supposed to be very important and powerful, for themselves. Wayne places it on a blueprint of the Magic Kingdom, the drawing lights up as does the whole park, a multitude of fireworks go off in the sky, and... that's it. That's all that happens. The fireworks are reported as something done for a private celebration the next morning and Wayne sends the Kingdom Keepers home. Oh, the rides fix themselves too, but that's barely mentioned.
  • Artistic License:
  • Ascended Fanboy: The DHIs.
  • Asexuality: Philby.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • Dillard pops back in during book five, but is killed at the end of book 6.
    • After being conspicuously absent for most of book 5 and all of book 6, Cruella de Vil reappears mid way through book 7 and is killed a few chapters later.
  • Back from the Dead: A lot of villains that were killed in the movies they were in.
    • Tia Dalma resurrects Maleficent at the end of Legacy of Secrets.
    • Dillard comes back somehow after the climax of Disney at Last.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Amanda is noted to do this, as is Charlene's VMK form
  • Big Bad: Chernabog. When he's not present, it's Maleficent, and when she's not present, the Evil Queen.
    • And now there's the possibility that Maleficent has overthrown Hades after being sent to hell, making her an even greater threat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Imagineers in the first book.
    • Ariel and Mulan in the fourth.
    • Stitch and King Triton (By proxy in the latter's case) in the fifth.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Disney At Dawn: The team has rescued Jess, but Wayne has been captured, Maleficent succeeds in freeing Chernabog, and the two villains escape in a freezer truck.
    • Power Play: Maleficent and Chernabog's prison break is successful, but the Disney characters are pitching in to help the Kingdom Keepers in the battle against evil.
    • Dark Passage: Maleficent has been Killed Off for Real, Tia Dalma has been captured, and Chernabog is trapped forever in the underground labyrinth. But Finn is tricked into accidentally killing Dillard, leaving him extremely shaken.
    • The Insider: Disneyland is saved, Mickey has returned, and peace has been restored to the kingdom. But the Overtakers' leadership remains at large and Wayne left the Keepers more mysteries to solve.
    • Legacy of Secrets: In the past, the Keepers have solved the mystery and temporarily thwarted Hollingsworth's schemes, and Finn is reunited with Amanda when she comes back into the past. But now they have to wrestle with the question of whether to change the past and prevent the Overtakers from ever existing, while in the present Maleficent has come Back from the Dead.
    • Disney at Last: The Keepers have failed to change the past and stop the creation of the Overtakers, but Mattie, Joe, and Nick manage to save Disneyland in the present, and Dillard comes back to life.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Finn's only "borrowing" Walt Disney's pen.
  • Blow You Away: Maleficent, briefly.
  • Bound and Gagged: Maybeck when he's kidnapped in the first book. Also, Finn attempts this in the fourth book.
  • Brainwashed: Jez, or Jess, as her real name is. Stitch is this way at the beginning of the third book, but is back to normal by the fifth.
  • The Cameo: For a series taking place inside the Disney theme parks, several of these are to be expected.
  • Cassandra Gambit: How Disney and the DHIs uphold The Masquerade. Who would believe that a bunch of fictional characters are trying to Take Over the World?
  • The Cavalry: Multiple Disney characters fill this role.
    • Mulan and Ariel in Power Play.
    • Stitch and King in Shell Game.
    • Mulan and Kristoff in Disney at Last.
  • Chick Magnet: Nearly every female teenager is attracted to Finn. Maybeck claims to be this trope as well.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Deconstructed. The entire reason the world's in danger is because enough people believe in the Overtakers to let them come alive.
  • Creepy Monotone: The Crash-test dummies speak in this manner.
  • Curse Cut Short: In Shell Game Maleficent was in the middle of calling Ariel the B-word before being attacked by a legion of crabs.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Finn explaining his injuries to his mother.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • Jess for most of the second book.
      • Willa becomes this when she gets captured while trying to rescue Jess
    • Finn's mom in book 5. Played with, however: she isn't captured, but spends most of the book Brainwashed and Crazy, forcing Finn to figure out how to free her.
  • Darker and Edgier: Dark Passage and the Return Trilogy.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Dark Passage gives readers insight into Greg Luowski's point of view.
    • The Insider shows Tia Dalma's efforts to rescue Chernabog and the Evil Queen from her perspective, as opposed to the readers (and heroes) finding out about it after the fact.
      • Book 7 also features a chapter from the point of view of Violet in the aftermath of the final battle as she reflects on what just happened.
    • The Syndrome puts the focus solely on Amanda, Jess, and Mattie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Maybeck.
  • Deadly Dodging: Against the T-Rex at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • Dem Bones: The T-Rex skeleton at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (the train goes through this right before the final set of brakes).
  • Demonic Possession: Ursula was doing this to Storey Ming all along
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When Elsa shows up in Book 5, Philby is immediately distracted by her beauty and barely able to form a coherent sentence together, while Finn finds himself, to his confusion, getting envious on how she talks to Philby first.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • Maybeck in book 1.
    • Philby in book 2.
    • Wayne for the end of book 2 and most of book 3.
    • Dillard in the last third of book 6.
  • Does Not Like Shoes/Barefoot Sage/Magical Barefooter: Tia Dalma is described as perpetually barefoot; it is also said that despite her Adaptational Villainy, she still gave the feel of ageless wisdom.
  • The Dragon: Maleficent for Chernabog, Frollo for the Evil Queen.
    • Dragon-in-Chief: Maleficent. She does so much more than any of the other villains, Chernabog included, and it's obvious that Chernabog would never have been freed without her. And while Wayne said that she was a pawn, after her death, this may not be true anymore, supposedly taking control of hell from behind the scenes.
  • Driven to Suicide: Amery Hollingsworth Jr. in Disney at Last after his Evil Plan fails.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Wayne.
  • Drowning Pit: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh under Maleficent's control.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Wayne
  • Eldritch Abomination: Chernabog
  • Enemy Civil War: the seventh book reveals that the increasingly public actions of the Overtakers that led to the creation of the team in the first place was the result of a power struggle between Maleficent and Ursula.
  • Energy Weapon: The Space Ranger Spin becomes a lot more real after you cross over.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Thanks to Maleficent.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A pair appears in the beginning of Disney at Dawn, foreshadowing the book taking place in The Animal Kingdom.
  • Evil All Along: Storey Ming. It wasn't exactly willing, though.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Maleficent, oh so much.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Storey Ming is a appears in the heroes' lives unexpectedly in Book 5. The male characters are all immediately attracted to her despite having just met her and not knowing if they can really trust her. This makes sense considering how Ursula essentially pulled the exact same thing with Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (1989), providing a subtle clue to who Storey Ming really is.
    • After an earthquake in Book 7, Overtaker Mooks are seen putting out fires that started because of the damage to natural gas lines. this is later revealed to be because they're waiting for the gases released by the earthquake to collect inside Disneyland before igniting it all at once with a jury-rigged lightning rod.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Starting in 2020, the books were re-written to take changes throughout the parks and the world since their original publication into account. The long defunct Virtual Magic Kingdom was replaced with the Keepers simply using Snapchat to keep in touch and many of the removed Epcot attractions were replaced with an adventure in the yet-to-open Ratatouille attraction.
  • Good Costume Switch: Jez /Jess, who changes from wearing all black to normal clothes after being freed from Maleficent's brainwashing.
  • Grand Finale: The The Return trilogy, which explains the origins of the Overtakers and sees their final defeat.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The The Return trilogy sets up Amery Hollingsworth as this, being the one ultimately responsible for both the creation of the Overtakers and Barracks 14.
    • In the original series, Chernabog often acts as this when he is not present.
    • Maleficent is speculated to be this, now that she has seemingly conquered Hades.
  • Grumpy Bear: Maybeck
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Fairlies are human/fairy offspring.
  • Hazardous Water: Splash Mountain.
  • Hero Secret Service: The Disney employees who aren't Obstructive Bureaucrats are usually this trope.
    • Violet and Elsa serve as Mickey Mouse's bodyguards while he and the Keepers get into position for the final battle with Chernabog in the seventh book.
    • Mulan also serves as a getaway driver for the Keepers in book 4.
  • Idiot Ball: In the first book, Finn and Philby explore Splash Mountain without a log car or any plan to survive the big drop.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The plan for defeating Maleficent.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Overtakers and other Disney characters.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Ursula is defeated in Book 7, Storey Ming loses all memory of everything that happened after Ursula took her as a host.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Jez is brainwashed, she's Amanda's sister, and they're both magic.
  • Legion of Doom: The Overtakers, a team of Disney villains out to take over the Disney parks.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...
  • Lost Aesop: "The Stonecutter's Quill" story in the first book. Perhaps it will enlighten our heroes by saying how thankful we should be of where we are now and of the advantages we have by being ourselves...but instead it's all about power... and it's never mentioned again anywhere or resonates with anything in the rest of the book.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The Syndrome. While Amanda and Jess are just as much part of the main characters as the rest of the Kingdom Keepers, The Syndrome is entirely from their perspective, along with their friend and fellow Fairly Mattie, introduced in Dark Passage.
  • The Masquerade: The Overtakers hide behind one to avoid attracting attention, knowing that nobody outside of those who already know would believe that a bunch of fictional bad guys are trying to Take Over the World
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Audio-Animatronics used in the rides are brought to life and used by the Overtakers.
  • The Mole: Joe sends Mattie to infiltrate the Fairly army in Disney at Last.
  • Muggle Best Friend: Dillard, though the best friend part is lost once Finn becomes a DHI.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "I'm Jez. Short for Jezebel. It's from The Bible."
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: By the fifth and sixth book, Finn starts having visions of the future for no reason and gains immense strength. He also gains a strange connection with Maleficent.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Audio-Animatronic Pirates of the Caribbean riding Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin cars!
  • Noodle Incident: How Maybeck's aunt Jelly got her nickname.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Higher up Disney employees and Imagineers tend to be this in later books. Particularly in the The Return trilogy. Somewhat justified given that they have to deal with megalomaniacal villains on top of running the company on a day to day basis, so the Obstructive part only comes when their way of handling a situation conflicts with the heroes' way of doing it.
  • Obviously Evil: Jez wears black, has pale skin, and that name...
    • Subverted in the end though; she's not really evil, just brainwashed by Maleficent.
  • Official Couple: Finn and Amanda appear to be this, although despite acknowledging their feelings for each other in The Return, they still haven't officially gotten together yet.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: The Keepers.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: They can breed with humans to create Half-Human Hybrids, those are The Fairlies.
  • Parental Abandonment: Maybeck's parents "aren't around". Also, Amanda and Jez live alone with no supervision.
  • Perky Goth: Jez, with good reason.
  • Playing with Fire: Maleficent can throw fireballs.
  • Posthumous Character: Walt Disney himself.
  • The Power of Friendship: Invoked on the "it's a small world" ride.
  • Punny Name: Fairlies are "fairly human".
  • Resigned to the Call: Some of the kids aren't too happy with their new position, but as Finn points out they're going to cross over every night anyway.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Insider reveals that Urusla and an unspecified number of others are part of one.
    • Before that, Power Play indicates that Jafar and Shan-Yu are each working independently of the Overtakers.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: There's a scene in the first book where Finn's thoughts become this way.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect
  • Romantic False Lead: Storey Ming for all major pairings from Book 5 to Book 6. Revealed in Book 7 to be a weaponized version of this trope so Ursula could manipulate the Keepers into destroying Maleficent for her.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The later books are riddled with misspellings.
  • Said Bookism: Just try to keep track of every time another word is used where "said" would have been just as appropriate.
  • The Scapegoat: The Fairlies plan to frame Zeke Hollingsworth for their attack on Disneyland before Mattie convinces them to turn against Barracks 14.
  • Secret War: the conflict between the Kingdom Keepers and the Overtakers.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Finn in the first book.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Walt Disney's first pen.
    • And an actual sword in the third book, stolen from Maelstrom.
  • Time Marches On: The first Kingdom Keepers book dedicates a significant portion to the five friends interacting in Virtual Magic Kingdom...which was shut down shortly some time after the book was published. Plus, every time there's a significant change in the parks, like Toontown being razed for the New Fantasyland Expansion, they have to find a way to work it into the books, mostly because it was mentioned in the story before the major change.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Mattie manages to convince the rest of the Fairlies to rebel against Hollingsworth in Disney at Last
  • Villain Episode: Dark Passage and The Insider contain several chapters from the point of view of Greg Luowski and Tia Dalma, respectively.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Now part of Maleficent's bag of tricks.
    • There's also a fairly who has this as her power.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: They keep mentioning and hinting towards Finn' sister, but she never makes an appearance or does anything important.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Despite the Kingdom Keepers' efforts to change the past, the obituary's description of Hollingsworth Sr.'s death remains unchanged, indicating that by the time he died, his plans and the creation of the Overtakers had already been set in motion.
  • You Are Grounded: Finn in the first book, though this only allows him to go to bed early without suspicion.
    • A constant worry for some of the Keepers.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The rule of the DHI form seems to be that you're as solid as you believe yourself to be. Somewhat averted in version 2.0
    • Arguably all the Disney characters who are coming to life because everyone believes in them so much.
  • You're Insane!: Philby's parents think this whenever he mentioned the DHI crossover.

Alternative Title(s): Kingdom Keepers


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