20,000 Leagues: Deep Sea Treasure Hunt Game

I hate playing board games! But for some unknown reason I love collecting vintage Disney board games. I think it’s because of the beautiful artwork:

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There are many versions of this game produced by Disney as this was a very popular property for the studio. This version is a standard board-playing style made in 1954 by Jaymar Games.

Speaking of the artwork, as usual, some artistic license was taken with the images used. For example, there are two different types of underwater suits depicted on the box cover, when only one style was used in the movie (Editor’s Note: Thanks to a knowledgeable reader, Nautilusnut, we have new information about these suits. Please check the comments to learn of their correct use in the film.) Also, this game is based on finding treasure, when only two characters in the movie sought treasure, and this was only a sub-plot in the original movie.

However, this in no way detracts from the fun of the game!

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Game board label and playing surface

So what is the object of the Deep Sea Treasure Hunt game? Have a look at the official rule sheet from inside the box:

See a problem?

Again, some license had to be taken to make the game work. The object is to submerge your diver 20,000 leagues (or 60,000 miles) beneath the sea. This is impossible! The maximum depth of the sea is approximately 36,200 miles. So unless the diver is going to dig his way into the ocean floor, he isn’t winning this game!

Getting back to the game in this post, the spinner is quite nice:

That’s a very colorful Nautilus!

I picked this game up for just $15.00 CAN because it has some damage issues on the box. The rest of the game is in very good condition with all of the parts present.

I’m red!

I hope you enjoyed this post featuring a vintage Disney game.

Movie Review: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – 1916 Version

Welcome! Please prepare yourselves as we ready this post to travel into the deep past of cinematic history. Back to a time when ‘technology’ wasn’t a word yet and films were still in black and white and without sound. If you’re ready, I give you:

Movie Cover

This was the first motion picture filmed underwater. Actual underwater cameras were not yet invented, so a system of watertight tubes and mirrors were used to allow the camera to shoot reflected images of underwater scenes. These had to be staged in shallow sunlit waters which then doubled for deep-sea locations, like the ocean floor.

So there was some ‘technology’ involved. In this case, brothers Ernest and George Williamson did the honors, and here is what the title cards had to say about their contribution:

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These two inventive men did such a good job that they even got a few seconds of screen time, something even the director, Stuart Paton, didn’t get! And here they are:

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The film was made by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company which was later to become Universal Pictures. The film’s innovative special effects, location photography, large sets, exotic costumes, sailing ships, and full-size navigable mock-up of the surfaced submarine Nautilus led to an incredibly high budget for the day!

And just how good were the effects in this film? Let’s have a look at some stills:

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The Nautilus

Looking like a blurry picture of the Loch Ness Monster, this image could be of almost any modern-day submarine. There was no effort to make the craft look futuristic.

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Undersea Images

The Williamson boys did their best, and I’m sure these images looked better back in the day on the big screen, but the print I viewed did them no justice. But considering this was the first time anyone had even tried to film under water, kudos for the effort!

There were some similarities between Disney’s big budget 1954 film. Such as the undersea walking, farming, and funeral scenes:

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Turtle Soup tonight!

Allen Holubar plays the title character of Captain Nemo. His performance was… interesting. I think they must have served a lot of ham at the catering truck during filming. His performance was over-the-top to say the least, but he had some strong competition from the rest of the cast!

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Both my wife and I saw this moment in the film and thought it looked a little like Santa Claus on Weight Watchers talking to his elves! Once that image got into our minds, it was hard to take him seriously throughout the rest of the film.

Before I rate this film, let me give you a brief (?) synopsis of the plot: A giant ‘sea creature’ has been sinking ships on the high seas so the government sends a professor and his daughter (?) on another ship to investigate. Seems safe enough. It wasn’t. Nemo rams the ship and then rescues the Professor and his daughter and spends half the film showing them the ocean floor. Meanwhile, a balloon is launched (?) which crashes on an island inhabited by ‘a child of nature’, or beautiful jungle girl. This is a nod to another Jules Verne classic, Mysterious Island. Then a yacht arrives (?) with a guy who abandoned a girl on the same island years earlier and he just thought he’d drop by to see if she was still alive. Seems a decent thing to do. But one of the balloon guys kidnaps the girl and takes her onto the yacht which is then torpedoed by Nemo after which he rescues them too.

Now here is where it gets interesting:

In elaborate flashback scenes to India, Nemo reveals that he is Prince Daaker, and that he created the Nautilus to seek revenge on the yacht guy for causing the death of his wife and for stealing his daughter (!) He is overjoyed to discover that the abandoned wild girl is his long-lost daughter, but then he drops dead. His loyal crew bury him in the ocean, disband, and leave the Nautilus to drift to its own watery grave.

The film ends with a shot of one of the balloon guys and the long-lost daughter looking off into the sunset. Presumably, everyone else died. The end.

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Captain Nemo in happier times

I would give this film a 3 out of 5 Stars. It doesn’t deserve that many stars based on the storytelling but it is pretty amazing that they managed to film under water and do a fairly good job of it. Also, you have to consider how much of an impact it would have had on 1916 audiences!

This film has a G rating. It contains: Two attempted rapes. Child abuse. Three kidnappings (all of the same girl). Murder. Suicide. And a storyline that basically has a maniac destroying dozens of ships and killing hundreds of people just because he hates one man. But we are told that he feels bad about it. This film has a G rating. I just thought I’d say it again.

I recommend the Disney version.

Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Electric Quiz Game

One of my favorite live-action Disney films is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Nothing brings out the boy in a man like a cool submarine and a giant rubber squid! Add an all-star cast to this mix and you have a film I’ve watched far too many times.

So it should be no surprise that I love finding 20,000 Leagues merchandise. Today, I may have broken the Cool-O-Meter with this great Electric Quiz Game from Jacmar:

Box measures approximately 10″ x 8″ x 2 1/2″

Most Disney board games are great collectors pieces but have little real monetary value. $10 US is about what the average game usually sells for being as they are quite common, and they were produced in such great numbers. Rarer versions can fetch more. A game with an added dimension like electricity can also fetch higher prices, so I think I did OK with a purchase price of $20 CAN for this version. There is very little about this game on the Internet, with one eBay Seller asking in excess of $175.00 US for it, plus shipping.

This game has amazing graphics on the box, and an added bonus is that all four sides of the box have unique designs:

Let’s open the box and see what is inside:

At the top middle of the box you can see a red bulb that lights up when you choose a correct answer. The two red wires with the metal tips (called Selector Tips) are used to give a mild to severe shock depending on how wrong the answer may be. Original versions of this game were recalled as the hair of particularly stupid children were known to smoke after several minutes of play. And if you believe that, please send me $19.95 for your free Gullible Award today!

Actually, they are safely used to select questions and answers. Here are the full instructions from the inside lid of the game box:

Let’s place a playing card on the ‘deck’ for a demonstration:

To play, hold one selector tip in your left hand and place it on a contact station, or question. With the card above, we will select ‘Life Boat’ in the upper left corner. Then, holding the other selector tip in your right hand, place it on another contact station, or answer. In this case, it would be the metal disk just below ‘Anchor’ on the upper side of the Nautilus, between the Vertical Fin and the Rudder & Propeller. When you have made this final contact, the circuit is completed and the red light will glow to indicate a correct answer. If you were to place the selector tip in your right hand on the wrong metal disc, say in the lower left corner by the Anchor, nothing would happen, and you would have given a wrong answer. Play would then pass to the next player.

The whole thing is powered by a 1.5 volt dry cell battery which fits into this apparatus on the underside of the playing deck:

The game comes equipped with 6 cards printed on both sides for a total of 12 question and answer games. They are billed as interesting, fascinating, and educational! This game was commended by the Consumer Service Bureau of Parents’ Magazine and was proudly made in the U.S.A. by Jacmar Mfg. Co., Inc. of New York City perhaps in the 1950’s.

Let’s conclude with a closer look at all 6 cards, both sides:


Interior of Nautilus & Types of Vessels


Geographical Locations & Pieces of Personal Equipment


Sea Life & Isle of Vulcania


More Geographical Locations & Birds of the Ocean


Wonders of the Deep & Characters


Nautical Flags & Exterior of Nautilus

I think a night of watching Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and then a review via the playing of this game is a whale of an idea!

FUN FACT: 20,000 leagues refers to how far the Nautilus had traveled under the sea, not to the depth it had dived. A league is a rough measurement of about three miles, usually at sea. So if they had dove 20,000 leagues straight down under the sea, that would equal 60,000 miles!

The deepest part of the ocean is called the Challenger Deep and is located beneath the western Pacific Ocean in the southern end of the Mariana Trench, which runs several hundred kilometers southwest of the U.S. territorial island of Guam. Challenger Deep is approximately 36,200 feet deep.

So obviously the Nautilus didn’t dive 20,000 leagues down into the sea!