What's it about?
In Disneylanders, a self-conscious 14-year-old on the brink of starting high school struggles to find a new identity on her family's annual summer vacation, and with the help of an outgoing boy she meets while waiting in line, she discovers that Disneyland is the one place where her overprotective parents let her have the freedom to grow up.
Casey Allison is an observant heroine who is determined to overcome her fears that in order be accepted as "mature" when she starts high school, she'll have to display her bra straps, ditch her parents, and stop going to her beloved park. As she explores Disneyland—and her first romantic relationship—with Bert, the charming and kind guy she meets, she realizes that she can overcome her real-world insecurities only when she's in the Magic Kingdom.
I began handwriting the first draft of Disneylanders in November 2005. (Grateful thanks to a very dedicated typist, my husband Brad, for eventually making all those notebook pages digital.) Working on the book every day (well, almost every day...) let me plunge into one of my favorite places in the world and take a trip there each night. Writing about Casey, frantically rushing from land to land to escape her parents, or Bert and his grandma Viv, sharing a cinnamon roll together on Main Street, completely immersed me in the creativity-inducing realm of Disneyland. After writing, I really felt like I'd just had a sip of a Disneyland mint julep, or bobbed along on a Pirates of the Caribbean boat...and was ready to go back again immediately the next night.
Visiting the park so often (in my imaginings, at least) was fun, but I got the added benefit of getting to visit the park with these great characters who had been having conversations in my head for a while...although that made it all the more difficult when it was time to let Casey, Bert, their loving but squabbling families, and even the bra-strap girls cause some trouble.
I think that Casey and Bert's story of what it means to really grow up could only be told in this historical, beloved icon of childhood. I hope that you'll soon be able to read the novel for yourself and find out how Disneyland helps to tell stories of all kinds.
The First Review!
I was fortunate enough to have insatiable reader Readerman (aka, Mr. Rod Richards) read the Disneylanders manuscript. He posted his review here. My favorite part (other than that he enjoyed the book, of course): the Disneylanders story inspired him to relate his own Disneyland date from years ago, involving Circle-Vision and a stranger. I think everyone must have a romantic, nostalgic Disneyland story...maybe I should start a blog of them!