About the Column

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.

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FROM: The Truth of the Matter Is Published Mondays

Hidden (Disney) Talents

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.

At Disney, one of the most important 'talents' you can have is a sense of humor.

We always tried to make each other laugh, and we always tried to have fun no matter what we were doing.

For example, in the model shop, we'd stage contests to see which of us could walk the farthest on our hands. During my time in animation, it was common to see people walking down the halls on their hands.

I said to myself: "I can do that, too."

One day, as we were all walking around on our hands, a Disney lawyer walked into the room. We weren't sure, at first, who it was, since we'd never seen him from that angle before. When he learned what we were doing, he asked to join in.

I didn't have much faith in a suit-and-tie lawyer being able to ambulate around on his hands, but he did, and he did it really well. (I learned later that he had been a gymnast in high school.)

At the time, though, we were so shocked at how well he moved around the room that I think we fell back upon our feet!

Blaine Gibson also had an unexpected talent: Frisbee. We often played Frisbee, and we were about as good with throwing and catching as any other group of people.

But Blaine, our head sculptor, was fantastic, easily the finest Frisbee player at Disney, and one of the finest I've seen.

Learning the hidden talents of Blaine Gibson and that Disney lawyer (whose name, unfortunately, I can't recall) have made me look over the years for the talents within each of us that may have nothing to do with our jobs but quite a bit about who we REALLY are.

I'm usually amazed at what I find.

If you'd like to hear a few stories directly from Rolly himself, buy 'A Walk in the Park with Rolly Crump', an hour-long audio tour available from Kenbow Communications in which Rolly takes you for a stroll down Disneyland's Main Street through the areas of the park that he had a hand in creating. It's the best $4.95 you'll ever spend.

You can also hear on iTunes Rolly's interview with DisneyDispatch columnist Jeff Heimbuch on iTunes for free (or download it if you don't have iTunes), and you can read an excerpt of it in a recent installment of Jeff's column, From the Mouth of the Mouse.