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Disneyland Hostage (1982)

Eric Wilson
Orca Book Publishers

I can't be entirely sure this book actually exists given how improbable it is that Disney would allow it to exist, but I seem to have read it, so let's imagine that it does actually exist, until of course Disney tells me otherwise, or perhaps forces me to "unread" it.

Liz Austen is a young teen from Winnipeg who has a brother, Tom, and both of them appear to get into various scrapes and mysteries.  This time Liz is flying to L.A. with her Aunt Melody to visit Disneyland.  Things get off to a bumpy start as Liz, a nervous flyer, is convinced something will go wrong with the plane.  And that's exactly what happens!  The pilot can't be sure the landing gear is locked for landing. But it turns out everything's okay, so this dramatic opening is really just a chain-jerk, as they say in the world of YA publishing.

Before going to Disneyland, Liz goes to Universal Studios and has a really great time.  And thus I become suspicious.  Was Orca Books, as a division of Collins Publishers, associated with Universal?  I just find it odd that this Liz of Winnipeg goes to Universal, has a great time meeting new friends and seeing all the attractions, but then gets taken hostage the very next day in Disneyland.  I mean, Wilson describes Disneyland as a great place, but still, being taken hostage can't be fun.

Also, while on the Universal tour, Liz is picked to participate in the "Castle Dracula" show, which in and of itself isn't really all that suspicious---until you see the author photo of Wilson on the inside cover.  He's dressed as a vampire!  So clearly, in the undead battle between Lugosi bloodsuckers and cryogenically-frozen union busters, Wilson has chosen sides.

Anyway, here are the details of the hostage-taking: Liz meets a girl her age named "Serena" who is the daughter of a diplomat from one of those imaginary Central American nations that is always on the verge of collapse and/or revolution (in this case, the tiny land of La Luceña). Things are going great at Disneyland (except, perhaps, for the oddly inappropriate moment when Goofy approaches Liz and tells her "he loves her"--but it was the 1980s after all, so I guess it was slightly less creepy then for a guy in a felt dog-suit to declare his "love" for a random 13 year old).  When they all get to the Tom Sawyer island place (that's there, right?), Liz and her pals are abducted by "the Dragon," a professional terrorist hired to bring La Luceña to its knees. We know he's a professional bad ass because he's always laughing heartily no matter what the situation at hand, making me suspect  he might be the Dos Equis man when he was in his thirties. 

The Dragon lets some of the hostages go, but not Liz and her Aunt.  And then, out of nowhere, we get a great lecture on global exploitation, explained by Serena's "the 1%" father.  One of the younger terrorists confronts the old diplomat:

You have left us nothing but the cockroaches and the mud.  My baby brother is covered with lice and his stomach is swollen from starvation.  But look at you!  Silk shirts, steaks to eat, trips to Disneyland.  Do you call that fair?"

These are good points, but Serena's father has an answer for the hot-headed young Marxist:

"I have come to America to find industries that will invest in our country.  They will bring us jobs so your brother will have work when he grows up."

The young Marxist says yanqui jobs are useless without access to education.  The old diplomat tells him to be patient.  They'll be able to have a better education system once they sell more of their coffee.

At any rate, Liz is okay at the end.  The Dragon is taken into custody.  Everyone else agrees to be good friends from that point on.  And I guess the terrorist's brother still has lice all over him waiting for the coffee crop to come in.

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