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

The Tower of the Four Winds: Part 3

Disney Legend Rolly Crump writes another installment of his weekly column with personal recollections about how he didn't want the Tower of the Four Winds returned to Disneyland and his habit of tugging on Walt's coattails during executive meetings.

This is the second 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.

(Don't miss the first part or the second part!)

In the third part, Rolly really doesn't want the Tower brought back to Disneyland...

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 there was no room for it, and I didn't know where the hell I'd put it without taking away from the clock and the facade.

Walt Wants the Tower

No one except Walt wanted to bring the Tower back.

On the day that Walt was to meet with upper management about the World's Fair, I was asked to come early into Dick Irvine's office and speak with him and the other company Vice Presidents - all the heads of the different divisions were there, each wearing a suit and tie, and I was just a little guy in a sweatshirt.

They said, "Rolly, Walt wants to bring the Tower back and we don't want it to come back".

"Neither do I", I told them.

"Well, that's wonderful, Rolly, and we want you to tell Walt".

I looked at them and said it wouldn't be a problem.

Rolly Delivers the News

Toward the end of our meeting with Walt later that day, the executives looked in my direction as if to say, "go ahead, Rolly, tell Walt about the Tower".

So I said to Walt, "What about the Tower?"

He looked at me, his eyebrows lowering, and said in a low voice: "What ABOUT the Tower?"

"I don't want to bring it back."

"What do you mean, you don't want to bring it back?", Walt said in a louder voice.

I told him my reasons, explaining that if we put the Tower in front of the clock and the facade of It's A Small World, it'd be like putting confetti in front of confetti.

Walt smiled at me, slightly, and turned to the first executive, the treasurer, and asked him if he was concerned about the cost of bringing back the Tower.

The treasurer said "Oh, maybe a little bit, but not really...".

Then Walt turned to another executive, the guy who'd be in charge of maintaining the Tower if it were brought back, and he asked the same question. And got the same reply.

Each executive, when questioned by Walt, backed down because they knew Walt wanted the Tower in Disneyland.

But Walt wasn't fooled and knew I'd been set up as the messenger.

Walt Gives Up the Tower

Finally, Walt turned to me and made his decision.

"Roland, if what you told me is the case, then we won't bring the Tower back."

And that was it.

The executives quickly left the room. They couldn't wait to get out of there. Walt himself was getting up to leave.

I had a habit when working with Walt of tugging on his coattail at the end of a meeting if I wanted him to stay and explain something which I hadn't fully understood.

So I tugged on his coattail. He sat back down and looked at me.

"Walt, does it really bother you that we're not bringing back the Tower?"

"No, not at all, it's okay with me. I didn't care about the cost or the maintenance, but what you said about the Tower just being more confetti made up my mind."

Walt, as usual, understood things from a creative, not just a financial, perspective.

The Tower was never brought back to Disneyland.

It stayed in New York where it was eventually torn apart and sold as scrap.

Next Monday:
Rolly and the Well-Endowed Cave Girl. 'Nuff said!

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]