February 27, 1930 – Birth of Imagineer and Disney Legend Rolly Crump
To get a handle on this spirited, multi-talented Disney designer, think: Leonardo da Vinci’s Universal Man.
Born February 27, 1930, in Alhambra, California, Roland “Rolly” Crump became one of the most imaginative people in the Imagineering field. He began working at Disney in 1952, leaving a job as a dipper in a ceramic factory to become an inbetweener artist. He eventually became an assistant animator, with his work including the films Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty.
In 1959, Crump moved over to WED Enterprises, designing some of the most popular attractions at Disneyland, including The Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Crump even appeared on the Disneyland 10th Anniversary episode, where he explained the idea of a Museum of the Weird (which eventually morphed into part of the Haunted Mansion), where the Imagineers would collect weird things from around the world. “I did a candle man that was melting, I did a chair that stood up and talked,” Crump said of the humble beginnings of the Museum of the Weird. “And while I’m working on all of this, the management at WED and the art directors said, ‘That stuff’s too weird, Walt’s not gonna like that.’ They put all my stuff on a table against a wall in a corner. Finally Walt said, ‘Well, is that it?’ And Dick Irvine said, ‘Yes, Walt, that’s it.’ He said, ‘What’s this stuff in the corner?’ He and I both sat in front of this stuff, and I took him through it. He said, ‘It’s weird.’…The next morning I come to work at 7:30, Walt’s sitting at my chair in the same clothes he was wearing when he left that afternoon the day before, and he said, ‘I didn’t sleep last night…because of all the weird stuff you showed me.’”
Crump also was a key designer for many of the Disney attractions at the New York World’s Fair, particularly the Tower of the Four Winds Marquee for the It’s A Small World attraction. Crump designed the animated clock for the attraction when it was moved to Disneyland.
In 1970, Crump left Disney to become a consultant at other theme parks, including Busch Gardens in Florida and California. In 1976, he returned to Disney as a project designer for Epcot, particularly the “Wonders of Life” and “The Land” pavilions. He left again in 1981, launching the Mariposa Design Group, which created many themed attractions around the world. In 1992, he came back to Disney again, and he again worked with the Epcot pavilions, redesigning and refurbishing the lands there. Crump then retired from Disney in 1996, although he continues to create and dream up new interesting attractions. He was inducted as a Disney Legend at the 2004 ceremony.