About the Author

Disney Legend Rolly Crump is an artist, animator, and creative genius. His career with Disney began in 1952 where he worked for many years alongside Walt Disney himself. His contributions to Disney films and theme parks are incalculable. Rolly also had an impressive career beyond Disney, but he's best-known for his work as an Imagineer helping to create some of Disneyland's seminal attractions and for his role in the early design of Disney World. For much more on Rolly, see his profile on Disney's official Legends site.

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The Truth of the Matter Is

by Rolly Crump

The best way to learn Disney history is to get it from the people who helped make it. Rolly Crump made a lot of Disney history. Rolly was hired by Walt Disney Studios in 1952 to work as an artist and animator on such classic movies as Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and 101 Dalmations. In 1959, Rolly joined WED ('Walter Elias Disney'), the original name for Walt Disney Imagineering. At WED, Rolly became one of the chief designers for such classic attractions as Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room, and It's a Small World. Rolly worked closely with Walt Disney for many years. The friendship between the two men and Rolly's long tenure with the company puts him in an increasingly rare position: he can relate important episodes of early Disney history first-hand, and he can do so without notes or sources because he experienced it himself.

Crump and Gracey Rig the Room

AUG 8 Humor was a big part of Rolly Crump's early years at Disney. He and the other Imagineers were always up for some good-natured fun. One night, however, a gag pulled by Rolly, with help from Yale Gracey, cost them their cleaning services.

Crump on Gurr, Part 2

AUG 1 The "synergistic process" is an important element of Disney magic. Imagineers didn't work in isolation. Each drew from the talents of the others. Sometimes there was even a bit of "ghost designing", as in Rolly's second tale of working with Bob Gurr.

Crump on Gurr, Part 1

JUL 25 Lennon and McCartney? How about Crump and Gurr. As Rolly relates, some of his best experiences while working at Disney involved working with fellow (and future) Disney Legend Bob Gurr. This week, the duo make an orchestra from auto parts.

Rolly Crump's Babes (in Toyland)

JUL 18 When you talk about babes, it's inevitable that at some point the name 'Rolly Crump' will arise, especially when those babes happen to be from toyland. One of Rolly's first assignments at WED was set design for the film, Babes in Toyland.

Fun with Mary Blair and Leota Toombs

JUL 11 Rolly Crump was supposed to be painting the Tiki birds with Leota Toombs. But it wasn't long before Rolly was painting Leota, and Leota was painting him. When it was over, Rolly told Leota to go home and tell her husband Harvey. She did.

Hidden (Disney) Talents

JUL 4 People can fool you. A guy who wears a suit by day may sing in a death metal band by night. A girl who sports many tattoos may volunteer to work weekends at the children's library. And Disney folks, as Rolly Crump explains, are no different.

Rolly Crump's Jewish Small World Doll

JUN 27 Years ago, a Jewish woman wrote to Marty Sklar complaining that no Jewish doll was in It's a Small World. Marty, who's Jewish, told Rolly to fix it. Rolly did. Walt, meanwhile, wanted to know about Rolly's art background...

Rolly Crump Consults a Psychic

JUN 20 Before Rolly Crump hit his stride at Disney with It's a Small World, he wasn't being kept very busy, and wondered about the direction of his life. So he drove down to see Diane the psychic in Santa Monica to divine his Disney destiny.

The Small World Saga: Toys, Part 3

JUN 13 In the final story about the toys in Small World, Rolly Crump relates how lack of time forced him to make the toys from papier mache, and how when everything was done the Imagineers put Walt in a boat with wheels and pushed him through the ride.

The Small World Saga: Toys, Part 2

JUN 6 Last week, Rolly told us how Walt came up with the idea for a 'little boat ride', which later became It's a Small World, and now Rolly is busy creating some of the toys for that ride when Walt surprises him with a birthday present from Europe.

The Small World Saga: Toys, Part 1

MAY 30 One of the classic attractions for which Rolly Crump did much of the work is It's a Small World at Disneyland. Quite a few others were involved, including Mary Blair, whose 'child-like' style best reflected Walt's vision and which Rolly had to emulate.

Walt's Strawberry Waffles

MAY 23 Getting stories from the source, from people like Rolly Crump, often leads to little gems like these which show Walt Disney in private moments, unscripted and unexpected, and which shed new light on the man behind myth and Mouse.

Rolly Crump Leaves His Mark on a Rock

MAY 16 In 1957, Rolly Crump was working for Disney in Animation, but he still hadn't met Walt. So, of course, he'd want to make a good first impression, and the opportunity arose when Hazel George asked Rolly's help in creating Walt's Christmas present.

Rolly Crump on Wheels

MAY 9 Anyone who thinks the early Imagineers weren't rock stars need only read Rolly Crump's story about Porsches and motorcycles. His Porsche. His motorcyle. But the cool part is where he rode them. And who he may have had riding with him.

Rolly Crump Learns How to Sculpt

MAY 2 Nowadays, you need a committee to create: everyone wants to put in their two cents. Those who can't create tell others how! But not so for Rolly Crump, who sculpted most of the Tiki gods and birds himself - and he didn't even know how to sculpt!

Rolly Crump Pleases the Tiki Gods

APR 25 Walt Disney loved authenticity. A good example is the Tiki Gods in the Enchanted Tiki Room. Those aren't false gods: Rolly Crump based them on the gods and goddesses from Polynesian mythology, with some help from a little bamboo tube.

The Tiki Room... Restaurant?

APR 18 It's hard to imagine, but the original plan for Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room was to make it a restaurant with birds singing above as you ate below. Rolly Crump knows why that didn't happen, and he remembers Walt's initial impression of those birds, too.

What's Built in Vegas Stays in Vegas

APR 11 Walt made it clear to WED that he didn't want Disneyland to look like Las Vegas. As Rolly Crump built the facade for It's a Small World, he kept that in mind though it made him no less nervous the day Walt stopped by...

Rolly's Happy Accident

APR 4 One day, when Rolly Crump and Fred Joerger were working on the facade for It's A Small World, Walt came over to inspect the work and what he liked best was something that Rolly had never intended to do.

Rolly Remembers Walt's Personal Touch

MAR 28 For many years, Rolly Crump worked closely with Walt Disney, and got to know the man quite well. But Walt, in a sense, was not an easy person to know, and as Rolly explains it, no two people saw Walt Disney the same way.

Rolly and the Well-Endowed Cave Girl

Rolly Crump likes older women

MAR 21 Picture this: Disney Legend Rolly Crump removes his shirt, dons a vicuna fur, and stands besides a bare-chested fiberglass Cave Girl in the WED Model Shop, when suddenly Rolly's hands get the urge to wander onto places of prehistoric wonder. MORE

The Tower of the Four Winds, Part 3

Rolly Crump tugs on Walt's coattails

MAR 14 When I designed It's A Small World, I created the clock and the facade on the assumption that the Tower of the Four Winds would not be part of it, even though the Tower HAD been used near the entrance of It's A Small World at the New York World's Fair. Then I heard that Walt wanted to bring the Tower back to Disneyland. But... MORE

The Tower of the Four Winds, Part 2

Rolly Crump drives Walt Disney to meet the engineers

MAR 7 Walt always wanted to see things in models. He said that models never lie, renderings do. So, back then at WED, he wanted large-scale models of everything we did. I built a half-inch scale model of the Tower. It actually worked! All the propellors turned - I think I put 80 propellors on it, and each of them worked. This is... MORE

The Tower of the Four Winds, Part 1

How a penny propellor took Rolly Crump to the Tower of the Four Winds

FEB 28 This is the first of a three-part recollection by Rolly Crump about how he designed the Tower of the Four Winds, a 120 foot high, 200,000 pound working mobile that stood near the entrance to It's A Small World at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In the first part, Rolly buys a propellor for a penny... MORE

The Many Names of Rolly Crump

How Rolly Became 'Rolly' to Walt Disney

FEB 21 Rolly Crump is now a familiar name. But years ago, when Rolly began his Disney career, Walt wasn't quite sure what to call him. Here's the story of how Walt finally settled on 'Rolly' ... and how it stuck! I first met Walt Disney when I joined WED in 1959. Walt said, "Roland, it's nice to... MORE