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.

Disney Swag: The T-Shirt

Get yours now!

Subscribe to Disney Dispatch Digest

And receive a daily email summary of new stuff on the site.

FROM: The Truth of the Matter Is Published Mondays

Rolly Crump Consults a Psychic

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.

Before Rolly starts rockin', I'd like to mention an article written by Rolly's son, Chris Crump, a Disney Imagineer, who honored Rolly on Father's Day with some wonderful recollections: Chris Crump on Rolly Crump.

And now... here's Rolly!

About two years before Walt had his idea for It's a Small World and I began creating the toys from papier mache, things were quiet at WED. They weren't keeping me busy, and in those days, I had a lot of energy.

A friend of mine said: "Rolly, you ought to open a little gallery."

"Yeah," I said, "maybe I should."

So I did. I opened a gallery in Studio City, California, to sell my posters, my artwork, and all sorts of Japanese imports. My mother ran it for me.

My mother also had a psychic, Diane, in Santa Monica. She told me to talk to Diane about what might be in my future.

So I did. I told Diane that I wasn't sure of my direction and waited for her to advise me.

After a few moments of peering into my future, Diane said: "You're going to be designing like you've never designed before - huge things! - and you'll be as the eagle soaring. I see a ceiling, full of color, nothing but color, like it's painted in confetti..."

I thought: "What in God's name is she talking about?" But it didn't sound bad, and so I left feeling good about my future.

Two years later, as we worked on Small World, we had no place to store the toys after they were finished. So we packed them in plastic bags and hung them from the ceiling.

When you looked up there, it was nothing but color!

That's when I was reminded of Diane's prediction. She had been right all along.

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.