Laura Schaefer is the author of Planet Explorers Chicago, Planet Explorers New York City, Planet Explorers Philadelphia, Planet Explorers Disneyland and Planet Explorers Disney Cruise Line, and the forthcoming Planet Explorers Universal Resort Orlando and Planet Explorers London.
I’ve been writing for kids ever since I was in college in the 1990s, and although I don’t yet have kids myself, I think I have a ‘tween’ sensibility, even though I’m now 32. If a fact isn’t genuinely fun and interesting to me, I don’t include it in my new series of e-books for kids, Planet Explorers. My younger brother, who is in the themepark industry, is the perfect fact-checker for me, with the same ability to look at things through a kid’s eyes.
The philosophy behind the series is empowering kids – I loved travelling as a kid and want to empower my readers to be part of planning holidays with their parents. That way, the trip is more fun and fulfilling for the whole family.
Planet Explorers Walt Disney World, aimed at kids aged 8-12, contains fun facts, tips and active hyperlinks for those who want to dig a little deeper into everything Disney. It’s designed to be read on smartphones, Kindles, Nooks or iPads – I wanted to give kids an easy way to become Walt Disney World experts without having to carry around an actual book. Most ‘tweens’ will have their phone with them while travelling. E-book technology allows readers to jump from information about the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ attraction to a website about notorious real-life pirates such as Blackbeard. Or a kid can quickly check out the height requirement for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, then read a little bit about classic ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes while they wait in line.
I cut out all the stuff kids would find boring if they looked through a regular travel guide and focus on attractions and fun facts, plus lots of pictures and a quiz at the end to check the user’s knowledge. A lot of parents have told me they’re excited about the easy way the guidebooks incorporate learning about geography, history, art and science into real-life experiences.