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Playing at the House of Mouse: Disney’s Magic Kingdom-Themed Board Games

by Michael Barnes (08/13/13).

A Visit to Walt Disney World game is a bright, colorful and does not offer a hint of the money you’ll be spending once you go through that gate.

The game when it’s set up. It’s just like being there. I guess Mickey and the gang likely get comp tickets. Or do they?

For the first time since before my first child was born in 2010, we’re going on an old-fashioned, summertime family vacation. One of my young ones is getting ready to start school and the older one is getting set to go back to school, so I figured we’d close out the long, unreasonably rainy Atlanta summer with a road trip down to the House of Mouse: Walt Disney World.

My wife and I haven’t been there since we were married in 2004 (it was our “what the heck,” last-minute honeymoon destination) and I, for one, am dreading the experience of witnessing what nine years of inflation have done to the price of bottled water in the Magic Kingdom.

Of course, making the Great American Odyssey to one of our grandest monuments to entertainment media has put me in mind of board games, and specifically Disney-themed board games that tend to be appealing primarily to Disneyana collectors and fans of some of the many properties that the company has created (or accrued) over the decades. Here are a few games about the Magic Kingdom that likely cost about as much as a pair of mouse ears once you’re in the park:

First up is a no-brainer, the A Visit to Walt Disney World game that Milton Bradley published in 1972. This is a particularly cute title because the action (such as it is) takes place on a pop-up diorama of the Magic Kingdom with colorful artwork depicting the park. The idea is that you spin-and-move your character around the park, visiting all of the attractions in a set of cards unique to each figure. There are also three monorail passes given to each player, which act as short cuts. Obviously, this is not a high-strategy game and it’s doubtful that anyone but the very young would get much mileage out of it, but it’s got fun art and production to give it a little value. I’d estimate that you might see one of these selling for $20-$30 from a knowledgeable collector—or much less from thrift or a yard sale.

After viewing your credit card statement following your trip to the Magic Kingdom, you may not want to bring the magic home with Milton Bradley’s Disney’s Magic Kingdom game.

The back of the box. This Hasbro game is basically the same game as A Visit to Walt Disney World, but with some fun Disney miniatures.

In 2004, Hasbro released Disney’s Magic Kingdom game, which is more or less an updated version of A Visit to Walt Disney World. The production isn’t quite as charming, but it’s still an attractive game with some fun Disney miniatures. The concept is more or less exactly the same, but some extra mechanics involving special dice and some card play bring it somewhat up-to-date. It’s another one that could fetch $20-$30, but since it’s barely 10 years old, it’s likely to be more common than its 1972 predecessor.

The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea game looks great, but come on? Where is Kirk Douglas in that loony red-and-white striped shirt?

Unfortunately, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride is no more, as Capt. Nemo was replaced with little lost Nemo, the clown fish.

There are also a few really neat-looking titles based specifically on certain areas and attractions in the park. In particular, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea game published by Lakeside in 1975 has some awesome artwork from what is still one of Disney’s very best live-action films. It’s a gimmicky setup with a rotating board with the idea being that you have to pilot the Nautilus through waters patrolled by gunboats. Neither James Mason nor a giant squid puts in an appearance, but it looks fun. It’s a shame that this ride no longer exists in the park (it has been replaced by little lost Nemo the clown fish). Expect to spend $30-$40 on this one, notably for its action and cool concept.

I’ve often wondered if the Haunted Mansion is actually haunted by the ghosts of all the money you’ve thrown away to ride a five-minute attraction.

If you can find one of these games, you might be able to recoup some of the cash you laid out on the trip, as it currently values for more than $100.

The Haunted Mansion game is sort of the jackpot of Disney World-themed games. It was published a couple of years before 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, also by Lakeside, and it maintains a value of more than $100 today. It’s a simple race game but with a couple of rotating paths that you can use to thwart other players’ Doom Buggies from making it through the mansion. It’s a fun-looking title with a terrific pop-up façade of the mansion itself, and it’s definitely one that tickles the nostalgia-strings of anyone who’s ever loved this ride… like me. Definitely an E-ticket game.

So, with that, I’m off to Orlando. Hopefully, the kids won’t have any fun and my wife will despise the place. At the very least, I’m hoping that it’s another five or six years before we make the trek again. I’m going to need some time and lots more freelance gigs writing about board games to recover the enchanted Disney hit to my wallet!


Michael Barnes is a lifelong game player, collector and enthusiast. He has parlayed his passion for games into several successful ventures, including a retail hobby store, two popular gaming Websites, and 10 years of widely read commentary and criticism about both tabletop and video games.

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