That's no gator — this here is Captain Nemo's mighty Nautilus, born from French 19th-century author Jules Verne's imagination. About as soon as I learned to read, I'd immerse myself in Captain Nemo's adventures aboard this futuristic submarine, in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island.

Later, when I was in high school, the science-fiction pioneer wasn't worth more than two lines in my literature manual. Millions of readers worldwide — and Walt Disney World visitors — knew better.

See more slides from My Grand-Père's World here.