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The Magic Years
Disney through the eyes of teens
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Adrienne Krock, editor
The Dark Rider Chronicles - Chapter Two


Dark Rider reached down and pulled the pager from his sock. "Who needs our help this time?" he muttered. I waited as the inconspicuous superhero read the numbers to himself. "Ah! Lucky for us, it's not far, just next door. C'mon!"

I was so tired from our last rescue, but that didn't stop Dark Rider. He zipped around a corner and dashed through the next door. When I caught up, Dark Rider looked at me and moaned. "There's a crowd," he said. "I wish that people wouldn't get so excited when there's a problem, and just let officials do their jobs!"

"Do you know what the problem is?"

"Well, there's a rumor going around that a marionette boy made a bad decision, and now he needs help getting out of trouble."


"Hmm," I was deep in thought. We moved up a couple of feet, and I took a look around. Right ahead of us, it appeared that there was a puppet stage, and riders going by in the vehicles were the performers. There were posters advertising the Great Stromboli's Marionette Show. All looked peaceful enough to me.

"I wonder what 'Pinocchio' means," Dark Rider thought outloud. To me he added "Hey, this place seems pretty old. It's probably been here since Opening Day, huh?"

"Pinocchio's Daring Journey opened in 1983. It's fairly new." I looked out the window, then back at the little hero. "Pinocchio means 'pine eyes' in Italian, by the way."

"How do you know all these things?"

"I have to do something while you're in the bathroom for hours fixing your hair for all those fans I never see!"

We were in the line for a short ten minutes, but to Dark Rider it seemed like forever. Hopping into a car with Figaro and Cleo carved on all sides of it, we waved goodbye to the Cast Member who sent us off. If only she knew what we were about to undertake.

We passed under some flags and through two doors, which led us to the show. While I watched Pinocchio dance and sing, Dark Rider saw that the door leading out of the theatre was boarded up. "He should have noted that before he went on stage," Dark Rider said smartly. I rolled my eyes.


Suddenly, the "Great" Stromboli ended the show and threw Pinocchio in a huge cage! Dark Rider insisted we follow him. Once the door was closed, even the small superhero didn't know what to do. Before we could panic, we heard music, and the door was opened! Our hero tried to convince me that it was his amazing strength that broke the bars when he leaned on them, but I don't know about that. I thought I had seen a gleam of blue light at the lock.

We followed Pinocchio onto the road; we were sure he would follow it back home to Pinocchio Village. We thought our mission was complete, but we were wrong. Pinocchio turned the other way and went to Pleasure Island! We followed him there instead.

At first, I could see why Pinocchio had chosen this way. There were scrumptious things everywhere: licorice, gingerbread donkeys, a carousel, cupcakes, popcorn and more. Fireworks filled the skies and big statues of Indians were holding tons of tobacco. (Dark Rider and I don't like the smell of cigarette smoke though, so that didn't really appeal to us.) It was like a carnival! The temptations were just too much to ignore. Dark Rider smacked my hand as I reached for a cupcake.

We headed to the pool room. Surely that would be fun! Hiding behind a table, we watched Pinocchio and his friend play some pool. Suddenly Dark Rider broke the silence. "Oh my gosh!"

"What is it?" I started to ask, and then I saw what he was staring at. The other boy had grown a tail and had the ears of a donkey! We didn't know what to do. Leaving the room, we rode through the ruins of Pleasure Island, and saw that all the boys had been turned to donkeys! A gruff mean man was going to send them to the salt mines! I cried as they called for their mommies. Jiminy Cricket had been following Pinocchio and tried to help by calling him the other way.

Pinocchio narrowly escaped, and ran to the ocean. Jiminy Cricket floated on a raft and warned "Beware of Monstro!" I opened my mouth to scream, but it was too late. We were headed straight into the mouth of the huge whale! I passed out. I'm not sure how we got there, but when I came to I was sitting by Dark Rider and we were riding past Gepetto. He had been up all night searching for Pinocchio. Jiminy appeared once more and led Pinocchio the rest of the way home; he was obviously the boy's conscience. We followed to warm ourselves by the fire at Gepetto's house.


I was about to doze off when I heard the music from the cage again. It was the Blue Fairy. After reviving Pinocchio and giving Jiminy Cricket a badge, she was gone as quickly as she had come. I realized that we could not have gotten through it all if it hadn't been for the tiny cricket helping us out. Jiminy showed off his medal, and we turned to admire Gepetto's wooden clocks, dolls and puppets as we waved goodbye to Figaro and Cleo.

"Well, that didn't go as well as I had hoped," I confessed as we headed toward a candy cart for lollipops.

"Yeah, you got kind of swallowed up in all that excitement on Pleasure Island," Dark Rider said to me, as if to correct my actions. "If I had not had to stop you from drooling over those cupcakes, I would have beaten Jiminy to the whale and that entire scene could have been avoided."

"Oh, but you saved my life! I would be a donkey if you had let me eat one of those treats!" Dark Rider's face lit up.

"You're right, I am a hero! I did save you didn't I?"

"Yep," I said, ruffling up his perfectly coifed hair. "You sure did."



Jewel's FastFact: There are 2.5 million costumes in Walt Disney World's wardrobe. This makes it the largest "working wardrobe" in the world.

Reader mail is the stuff dreams are made of! If you've got any questions, comments or suggestions for future columns, email me at I'd love to hear from you!

The Dark Rider Chronicles - Chapter Two


My name is Jewel.

I am 13 years old, and a typical junior high student. I live with my mom, dad, and little brother. My family and I have annual passes to Disneyland so we go quite often. I love school, and science has always been a favorite subject of mine. I am in band and hope to be involved in music for the rest of my life.

Right now, my career goal is to become a deejay. In my mind, that is the coolest job in the world! My hobbies include: listening to and playing music, reading, writing, messing around on the computer and hanging out at Disneyland. We have seven cats (four of them found us), a black Labrador, and I have a goldfish.

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