Disneylanders, by Bob McLain and Kate Abbott, follows 14-year-old Casey's annual summer trip to Disneyland with her family. But this summer is different than the others. Casey’s nervous to start high school next fall, is tired of trailing her embarrassing parents around Disneyland, and her (now ex) best friend Kiley isn’t coming with them like usual. Casey’s miserable, despite being in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” That is, until she meets Bert waiting in line for a ride, a boy a year older than her and with problems of his own.
What initially drew me to Disneylanders was its setting—like Casey, I grew up going to Disneyland once every year, and have a fierce love for it. In portraying Disneyland itself, this book excelled. It’s chock-full of references to the rides and areas in Disneyland, and felt like I was there. In fact, every chapter’s title included a reference to some sort of Disney slogan, song, attraction, show, etc. If you love Disneyland, then you’ll definitely get some amusement and enjoyment from this book.
The main problem I had with this book was the main character, Casey. Although I was sympathetic to her in the beginning, I found her naïve and whiny by the middle of the book. I understand that parents can be embarrassing and over-bearing at times, but I found myself cringing at some of the decisions Casey made. She also had this huge issue against this group of girls she kept seeing around Disneyland, just because their bra-straps were showing—an issue I found immature and judgmental. I really only liked Casey because of her love for Disneyland. On the other hand, Bert, Casey’s love-interest, was awesome—his love for his family and his interactions with Casey (although a bit unrealistic at times) were adorable. I found myself getting bored during the parts with just Casey and her family, and wanting to get back to Bert.
Overall, I think Disneylanders is a cute, well-written, coming-of-age summer read. The ending, albeit not giving a definitive solution to every subplot, was sweet and ended on a hopeful note. I would recommend it to any Disney fan willing to look past the main character’s flaws for a good account of Disneyland.