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 on Wheels

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.

Getting around Disneyland was never much of a problem for me.

Rolly's Porsche

I used to own a 1964 Porsche. It was a beautiful, sweet little car, and I loved getting behind the wheel.

One day, I woke up with a great idea. I had driven that Porsche on highways, down city streets, and over country roads, but there was still one place those wheels had never been: Main Street, U.S.A.

When Disneyland was closed, some people drove little buggies to get wherever they were going, and I figured if they could drive their buggies, why couldn't I drive my Porsche?

So I asked.

"Sure, Rolly, go right ahead."

I'd like to say that I raced down Main Street at high speed, spinning in a perfect circle in front of the Castle, but of course, it didn't happen that way.

But every so often, I did cruise down Main Street in my Porsche, or take a slow spin around the Matterhorn, though I don't recall ever picking up Cinderella and dropping her off at work...

Disney did impose a single condition. When I parked, I had to slide cardboard beneath the engine to catch any oil that might drip onto the street.

Rolly's Motorcyle

Before the Porsche, I had a motorcycle. When I was sculpting the Tiki gods and birds for the Enchanted Tiki Room, I'd ride the motorcyle during lunch.

Once, as I was parking it, a secretary walked over and told me she'd never ridden on a motorcycle before.

Of course, that was all I needed to hear: "Get on the back", I told her.

I asked for directions to her desk, then drove through the building and dropped her off.

It turns out her desk was near Dick Irvine's office. Dick was in charge of the design and planning for all Disneyland attractions. He couldn't help but hear the motorcycle engine.

Dick opened his door fast, saw the secretary hopping off the back of my motorcycle, and said: "Oh, it's just Rolly." Then he shut his door again. I rode out the way I had come in.

Working for Disney in those days was always fun!

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.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]