The Kingdom Keepers

The Kingdom Keepers is a series of children's novels written by American author Ridley Pearson.[1][2] The New York Times Bestselling[3] series is published through Disney Editions and Disney Hyperion, and the first book was released on August 29, 2005. Its plot follows the adventures of five teens who, by day, are holographic hosts in the Disney Theme Parks.[4] By night, they battle Disney villains to keep them from taking control of the parks, the Disney entertainment empire, and the world.[5] The series' franchise also includes several other elements such as an online game and an interactive educational tour provided for school groups through Disney's Youth Education Series.[6]

Kingdom Keepers series
Kingdom Keepers.jpg
The cover of Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider, featuring the Evil Queen from Snow White watching over as Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle burns

  • Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark
  • Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn
  • Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow
  • Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play
  • Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game
  • Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage
  • Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider
  • The Syndrome: A Kingdom Keepers Adventure
  • Second Series:
  • The Return: Disney Lands
  • The Return: Legacy of Secrets
  • The Return: Disney at Last!

AuthorRidley Pearson
CountryUnited States
PublisherDisney Publishing Worldwide:
  • Disney Editions
  • Disney • Hyperion
  • 2005-2013
  • Return: 2015-2017
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
audiobook, ebook
Followed by'The Return'


Disney after DarkEdit

Five young teens, Finn, Willa, Charlene, Maybeck, and Philby, have been selected to serve as holographic theme park guides, Disney Hosts Interactives (DHI), in Walt Disney World. Thanks to a glitch in the DHI technology they find a man transported into Magic Kingdom each night which is called the crossover and pitted in a war against various Disney villains called the Overtakers, led by Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, to save both Walt Disney World and the world at large. They are helped by an original Disney Imagineer Wayne, who tells them about a riddle called "The Stonecutter's Quill". They go to different attractions, and realize that the riddle refers to the first pen that Walt Disney ever owned. Once they find the pen, Finn realizes that he can defeat Maleficent with the pen.

Disney at DawnEdit

Things have been relatively quiet for the past few months, until things go wrong at DHI day at Magic Kingdom. The Overtakers are back, and this time the stakes are even higher. A group of Fairlies, or Fairly Humans are a group of people who have special powers. One of these Fairlies, named Jess has gone missing. Her sister, Amanda has recruited the help of the Keepers to help her find Jess. The group searches for clues to her disappearance while also trying to keep the Overtakers at bay in Disney's Animal Kingdom, where the Overtakers have gained control of the computer servers with the intent to wreak havoc. It's a race against time when the Keepers realize that the Overtakers also control the DHI server, which means that if the hosts fall asleep they could stay asleep forever. The Keepers must find Jess and destroy the Overtakers' server, all before falling asleep.

Disney in ShadowEdit

After Wayne, their friend, mentor, and head Imagineer, disappeared during the events at Animal Kingdom, Finn, Philby, Willa, Charlene, and Maybeck suspect the worst. The Overtakers would like nothing more than to eliminate Wayne, or worse, to use his power to their own ends. Their search takes the Keepers, plus Amanda and Jess, into Hollywood Studios and Epcot, where they must fight through puzzles, giant snakes, and deal with Maleficent and her friends while discovering new truths about themselves that lead to more than they could discover.

Power PlayEdit

For the five teens who modeled as Disney Hologram Imaging hosts, life is beginning to settle down when an intriguing video arrives to Philby's computer at school. It's a call for action: the Overtakers seem to be plotting to attempt a rescue of two of their leaders, both of whom the Disney Imagineers have hidden away somewhere following a violent encounter in Epcot.

Shell GameEdit

Spring Break for the Keepers means a DHI cruise from Florida through the Panama canal to Los Angeles, with stops in exotic locations including Castaway Key, Disney's private island. However, for the Keepers the vacation may not be as much of a break as they'd hoped. With an ongoing battle for Walt Disney World's engineering base back home and Overtakers aboard the ship plotting something catastrophic, the Keepers are in a battle for their lives and the lives of the guests aboard the ship.

Dark PassageEdit

The five Kingdom Keepers and their core friends have uncovered a startling truth: Maleficent and the Overtakers are plotting a catastrophic event that could have repercussions far beyond the world of Disney. They started on the Disney Dream ship.

The InsiderEdit

The Keepers have enjoyed three years of relative quiet, but as they get ready to graduate high school, the Overtakers, and a nightmare they left buried in an ancient temple in Mexico, are rising again. This time they are headed to Disneyland, the park where it all began. The Overtakers are done playing games, and the Keepers are in more danger than ever. The only one who may be able to save the kingdom is none other than Disney's most beloved icon, but he has been missing for years and time is running out.

The FairliesEdit

A related spin off book that follows and delves more in depth into the world and life of a Fairlie, namely: Jess and Amanda

The Syndrome: A Kingdom Keepers AdventureEdit

Written with Brooke Muschott (as Jess) and Elizabeth Hagenlocher (as Mattie)[7] When Amanda travels east to Orlando on a hunch, she is met with the worst news possible. Kingdom Keeper Finn Whitman is missing. Calling on her own gift (telekinesis) her sister Jess' ability to dream the future, and their fellow Fairlie Mattie Weaver's unexplained ability to read minds through physical contact, the three gifted girls must navigate treachery, deception, and the stubborn, unwilling parents of the missing Keepers if they're going to save their friends.


This is an ebook novella focusing on the Fairlie sisters. It picks up after Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage and leads up to Book VII: The Insider. Unforeseen opens with Jess dreaming of “cracks” in Disneyland. As Jess and Amanda set out to find answers, she encounters an old man with secrets, a young Imagineer-in-training whose future Jess wants to see, and a treasured wonderland about to shatter.

The Return (sequel)Edit

The author of the Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson, wrote a sequel trilogy called The Return. The theme that Pearson had wanted to explore was a fictional Imagineering school and the origins of the Overtakers, the books' villains. A suggestion came from a father and son fan for King Arthur's Carousel allowing time travel and the lead character using it to go back to Disneyland opening day. Pearson was granted access to the Disney Archives to research Disneyland opening day.[8]

Disney LandsEdit

In the first book, the Keepers are about to go off to college, while the Fairlie sisters are attending the Disney School of Imagineering. Finn is the only one who believes there is something else left to do, that Walt's pen is not where it needs to be in the past and tries to follow Wayne's final clues. When he crosses over into Disneyland, he suffers memory loss and has Walt's pen drawn on his arm.

While the Keepers try to figure out what's going on, the sisters, Amanda and Jess, help them by stealing classified documents from the Disney archives in the basement of their dorm building. However, the two show signs of growing apart, as neither can fully tell the other what they know. With the help of some new friends, they find out about something called the Legacy of Secrets and a disgruntled Disney employee from sixty years ago.

The Keepers finally connect the dots and figure out that the music box in Walt's apartment opens an anomaly on a horse on King Arthur Carrousel, making the person on it time travel. They find out it can be controlled and that they are needed in the past. After some trial runs, they leave as DHIs, not giving anyone a clue as to their whereabouts.

Legacy of SecretsEdit

In the second book, the Keepers have successfully arrived at Disneyland's Opening Day in 1955, there to track down Walt's pen and ensure that it is in the right place in the future. Compared to earlier missions, this seems a simple task, especially with the help of their old mentor Wayne, a teen worker at the park in 1955. But they face problems: although the Overtakers do not yet exist, there is a group of regular people who want to stop them and use Walt's magic against him.

In the present, the Fairlie sisters have figured out their friends' fate, and are determined to help however possible. They decide to find out more about the Legacy of Secrets, still as dangerous in the present as in 1955. Setting off on their own mission, they find out that the present Legacy is connected to the barracks in Baltimore from which they escaped, after being tested for their abilities. Putting the pieces together, they find that in the present, the Legacy is going to unleash the Fairlies on Disney and destroy it themselves, having previously put their resources behind the Overtakers.

After solving a puzzle Walt created for his family to find the pen, the Keepers show down with the Legacy's head, Amery Hollingsworth, who Amanda and Jess have managed to warn them about. Hollingsworth wants to use the pen and its magical ink to create the Overtakers that the Keepers battled in the present. Walt Disney himself shows up, warned by Wayne, and has Hollingsworth and his accomplices thrown out of the park. He promises the Keepers that he will make sure the pen goes to the right place.

In the present, Tia Dalma has been shown concocting a strange brew. She has apparently secretly reorganized the Overtakers, who attack in full force when the sisters and their friends (Tim Walters, Emily Fredrikson, and Nick Perkins) show up in Disneyland to receive Philby's phone, which the Imagineers can wire to Return the Keepers to the present. The sisters need the Keepers to stay in the past a little longer, to combat the Legacy and prevent the origin of the Overtakers. Tia Dalma has resurrected Maleficent, whom Finn killed in Mexico three years ago, and she is physically deformed, but more powerful than ever. A weakened Amanda climbs onto the activated carrousel and travels to 1955 to escape and to warn the Keepers, leaving Jess in the present. Jess gives the package to the Imagineers and tells them to write the information on her arms, in case Amanda's memory was affected, and start the music box for her.

Disney at Last!Edit

In the third book, Amery Hollingsworth in 1955 journeys to the Louisiana swamps to hire a witch doctor (a man known as the Traveler) to help him create the Overtakers, the Disney villains. In the present, the Fairlies show up at Disneyland and begin to cause chaos.

Finn and the other Keepers, now joined in the past by Amanda and Jess, have decided to make use of the fact that they cannot yet return home and stop Hollingsworth from creating the Overtakers, though they don't know his plan. Charlene and Amanda track a suspicious pair of teen "Cast Members" to a secret room in the walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle and are almost caught. Using one of Jess' dreams, they get help from Marty Sklar, who has heard stories about graveyard vandalisms outside the park that go along with Jess' dream of a graveyard and the Traveler. When they go to the graveyard, they are attacked by zombies one night; the next, they uncover the recently removed coffins and find that certain bones have been removed from the bodies. Chased by ghosts and more zombies under the Traveler's control, they flee.

Mattie Weaver, Amanda and Jess' Fairlie friend, is working in the present to uncover the details of the impending Fairlie attack, which will be controlled by Amery Hollingsworth, Jr. As Joe Garlington, a head Imagineer, rallies the other Disney characters to their cause, she infiltrates a group of Fairlies hiding out backstage in the Tower of Terror. She gets made into a DHI, to more easily communicate with Imagineers when held captive. Zeke (Ezekiel or Ebsy) Hollingsworth leads a strike with Nick Perkins and select characters to free her, but she resists, deciding she will be of more use on the inside. Zeke is captured.

The Keepers send Finn and Amanda to investigate another lead from Marty: a mannequin of Pinocchio in a workshop on property, which would match Jess' dream of a Pinocchio animation cel being burned. They find the mannequin shaped exactly to fit a projected cel from the movie, and then narrowly escape a fan that blows at tornado speeds. To follow up, the whole group helps break into the mannequin company that Disney ordered from, and escaping police, find that Amery Hollingsworth is also a customer. They trace the address to the old abandoned hotel where Finn went exploring and which is home to Amanda and Jess' DSI dorm in the present. Meanwhile, Hollingsworth and the Traveler break into a morgue and steal more bones.

Mattie continues to unravel the Fairlies' orders. She manages to connect with them and convinces a couple of them that they are still prisoners, though they're outside Barracks 14's walls, and that they should revolt against their holders. They're not only tools, but also fallback, the Fairlies will be the ones who go to prison for ruining Disneyland, not the Barracks masters or Hollingsworth, Jr. They decide that when the signal comes on the day of the attack, it will determine whether to follow the plan or revolt.

The Keepers have been staking out the hotel and the funeral home connected to the morgue investigation. Charlene and Maybeck find Legacy members unloading mannequins into the hotel, and Finn and Amanda arrive to stop them. They witness a ritual where the Traveler burns the bones and the animation cel, does some chanting, shapes a mannequin to fit a projection from the cartoon or movie, and brings it to life as an Overtaker witch in the theater of the hotel, using early Fairlies he enchanted to project emotion and knowledge into it. Willa and Jess narrowly escape death at the funeral home and Jess finds out about the bones, and she and Willa go to the hotel to help. They defeat the Traveler and Fairlies and a halfway-formed Maleficent and destroy them, but in the process Finn is crushed between two enchanted tables, sacrificing himself to kill Hollingsworth.

Though the Fairlies decide to revolt, the attack proceeds anyway, with fireworks launching out of control across Disneyland in daytime. Mattie and Nick try to stop the attack, supported by Mickey Mouse and many other Disney characters. The Fairlies defeat their holders and Mattie and Nick find Tia Dalma at the top of the Matterhorn, with resurrected Maleficent directing the fireworks. (It's supposed that the Traveler is actually the Devil and Tia Dalma, his offspring, is the Grim Reaper.) Using their electricity, they destroy both Maleficent and Tia Dalma.

The Keepers return to the present with a dead Finn, but upon returning their memories are off. Finn comes back to life, as do Dillard and Wayne. The book ends with the Keepers tearfully saying goodbye to this era of their life.[9][10]


  • Finn Whitman – One of the most important DHIs. Finn is the main character in the story.
  • Dell Philby – The master computer geek, his intelligence is the greatest among the crew.
  • Charlene Turner – A star gymnast and athlete with a cheerleader body, Charlene's got both the brains and the brawn.
  • Terrence Maybeck – The artistic member of the DHIs, Maybeck can be hot-tempered and impulsive.
  • Willa Angelo – With brains to rival Philby's, Willa is also very good with a bow and arrow.
  • Amanda Lockhart - Finn's Girlfriend; a Fairlie with an ability to move things with her mind; later gets turned into a DHI.
  • Jessica Lockhart - Amanda's sister; a Fairlie with an ability to dream the future; later gets turned into a DHI.


About 2002, Ridley Pearson and his family went to Disney World for the first time with humorist Dave Barry. Pearson indicated to Wendy Lefkon, Disney Publishing Worldwide editorial director, that he found that each attraction and ride “tells a story, with a beginning, a middle, and the end.” Lefkon responded with an offer to write a teen thriller novel in a Disney park setting.[11] Pearson then requested full access in off hours, which Disney would not grant. Based on his writing process of hands on and site research, Pearson turned down the offer. A month later, he was granted full access during off hours. Pearson had finished the first of the series' novel in 2004 before the publication of his co-written book, Peter and the Starcatchers, with Barry.[2] A five book series was layout by Pearson.[12] The first book in the series, Disney after Dark, was released August 29, 2005.[13] With Disney After Dark selling well, Hyperion wanted to expand the series to 10 novels, however Pearson felt he could only stretch out the series to 7 books. With needing to move the story to Disneyland, the story in book 5 jumps to Disney Magic cruise ship which was being reposition to California.[12]

The fourth book in the series, Power Play, came out in April 2011 and made the New York Times Bestseller Children's Series the week of April 24, 2011.[3] With the last book, Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider, Pearson crowdsourced some 200 out of 600 pages, with fans voting online for which direction the book would take.[11]

During the tour for the final book in the series, Pearson announced a new sequel trilogy for this fictional world, called The Return.[11] On March 31, 2015, the first book in the trilogy follow-up series was released. Pearson was thinking of a series called Kingdom Keepers International, taking the main characters away from the parks and going international.[8]


Original series:

  1. Disney after Dark (August 29, 2005) Disney Editions[13][14] audiobook (August 1, 2005) Brilliance Audio, read by Gary Littman[15]
  2. Disney at Dawn (August 26, 2008)[16][17]
  3. Disney in Shadow (April 6, 2010)[18]
  4. Power Play (April 5, 2011) Disney • Hyperion, on the New York Times Bestseller Children’s Series the week of April 24, 2011[3]
  5. Shell Game (April 3, 2012)[19]
  6. Dark Passage (April 2, 2013)[20]
  7. The Insider (April 1, 2014)[21]

The Fairlies:[22]

  • The Syndrome : Finders Keepers, Losers Sleepers A Kingdom Keeper Adventures
  • Unforeseen A Kingdom Keeper Novella

The Return:

  1. Disney Lands (March 31, 2015)[8]
  2. Legacy of Secrets
  3. Disney At Last


Kingdom Keepers OnlineEdit

On April 6, 2010 Disney released an online game entitled Kingdom Keepers Online. The game is collaborative, as all players control one of five selectable characters through 2,500 levels. Each level is procedurally generated and gameplay is action based.

Kingdom Keepers InsiderEdit

On March 24, 2013 Disney and interactive tech company Coliloquy launched Kingdom Keepers Insider, a website and mobile app that enables readers to interact with Pearson and impact how the final book in the series will be written.[23] Users can vote on elements such as potential plot points and may also submit ideas for character dialogue. The site features other elements such as chapter outlines posted by Pearson.[24][25]


  1. ^ "The Kingdom Keepers; by Ridley Pearson ages 10 and older". Washington Post (subscription required). December 11, 2005. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b Maria, Moncaliano. "Ridley Pearson: Writing is an adventure". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Best Sellers April 24, 2011". NYT. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  4. ^ "The kid lit rock star behind 'Kingdom Keepers'". 9 News. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  5. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (April 1, 2011). "Disney details are key to 'Kingdom Keepers'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  6. ^ Ayers, Jeff (Nov 2010). "A writer of many parts". The Writer. 123 (11): 18. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  7. ^ Pearson, Ridley; Muschott, Brooke; Hagenlocher, Elizabeth. "The Syndrome : Finders Keepers, Losers Sleepers". Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Bevil, Dewayne (April 8, 2015). "Disney book writer Ridley Pearson heads back in time". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Pearson, Ridley (2017-03-28). Kingdom Keepers: The Return Book Three Disney At Last. ISBN 1423184335.
  10. ^ "The Return: Disney At Last | Disney Publishing Worldwide". 2017-03-28. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Kirch, Claire (April 17, 2014). "An Author Visits His Kingdoms: Ridley Pearson on Tour". Publishers Weekly. PWxyz, LLC. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Hill, Jim (April 3, 2011). "Keeping up with Disney's "Kingdom Keepers" : Ridley Pearson talks about all the research that goes into this popular book series". Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "The Kingdom Keepers (review)". Kirkus Reviews. August 15, 2005. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  14. ^ "The Kingdom Keepers (reviews)". School Library Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2014 – via
  15. ^ "Audio Book Review: The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson, Author, Gary Littman, Read by". Publishers Weekly. PWxyz, LLC. October 10, 2005. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  16. ^ "Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn (review)". Booklist. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Kingdom Keepers II (review)". Horn Book Guide. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Kingdom Keepers III (review)". School Library Journal. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  19. ^ "Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game | Disney Publishing Worldwide". 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  20. ^ "Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage | Disney Publishing Worldwide". 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  21. ^ "Kingdom Keepers VII | Disney Publishing Worldwide". Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  22. ^ "The Fairlies". Kingdom Keepers Insider. Coliloquy, LLC. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  23. ^ Brown-Worthington, Elizabeth. "Author Ridley Pearson: Prolific writer involving his readers for his last 'Kingdom Keepers' book". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  24. ^ Werris, Wendy. "Coliloquy Adds Ridley Pearson, Rock Bottom Remainders E-Books". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  25. ^ Henderson, Jane. "Ridley Pearson welcomes readers aboard". St Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 9 April 2014.

External linksEdit