‘True original’: Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump dies

One of the Imagineers who brought to life many of Disneyland’s iconic rides has died.

Rolly Crump was 93 years old.

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A Facebook page dedicated to his autobiography, “It’s Kind of a Cute Story,” announced his death.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Crump was in hospice care.

A Disney Legend, Crump was a key designer for several attractions made by Disney for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. He also put his spin on several iconic rides and attractions, such as the Haunted Mansion and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, the company said in an announcement of his death, calling him a “true original.”

Crump was born Roland Fargo Crump on Feb. 27, 1930. He left a job as a “dipper” at a ceramic factory to live his dream of working at The Walt Disney Studios in 1952. To help supplement his pay, he worked weekends making sewer manholes. At Disney, he became an in-between artist and eventual assistant animator at Disney Animation, working on “Peter Pan,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Sleeping Beauty” and other classic films.

Crump had an edgy side that wasn’t always what you would think of when the word “Disney” comes to mind, with a beatnik streak and what he called “dopers,” or art that he snuck into productions that celebrated drugs in a humorous style, The Los Angeles Times reported. He continued creating pop art like rock posters, one of which hangs in the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, the newspaper reported.

Despite his non-conformist ways, Crump transitioned to WED Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering, in 1959 and was a key designer for the Haunted Mansion and the Tiki Room. He also designed the façade for It’s a Small World, including the iconic animated clock.

“You just looked at something and knew Rolly drew it. That’s just the way it was,” former Imagineer Bob Gurr told Times, describing his more adult, non-Disney creations. Gurr worked with Crump on refurbishing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland.

Crump can attribute his interesting nickname to the boss himself, Walt Disney. Disney was unable to remember Roland, so he went through several nicknames for Crump, finally settling on Rolly.

Crump also put his mark on Walt Disney World, working on the first designs for the Magic Kingdom and contributing to the design of Epcot Center, serving as the project designer for The Land pavilion and developing parts of the Wonders of Live pavilion. When The Land and Innoventions were refreshed, Crump was tasked with the project.

When Crump left Disney, he started his own company, Mariposa Design Group, which developed projects across the globe.

Crump officially retired from The Walt Disney Company in 1996 and was selected as a Disney Legend in 2004.

Tony Baxter, another Imagineer who worked with Crump on Epcot, told Variety, “Rolly was always able to see a different way of doing things. I think that fascinated Walt Disney, who was always looking for innovations. When Rolly was right with his innovative approaches, they often turned out to be among the most memorable aspects of Disney Parks. Another thing that distinguished Rolly was his total enjoyment of creative work, and being around other creative people at Imagineering.”

Crump’s son, Chris Crump, followed in his father’s footsteps and legacy as an Imagineer. “What I observed was that Rolly had really great relationships with the people that he worked with. It is important to know the skills of your co-workers, and to trust and respect them. I watched Rolly interact with his peers and was impressed with how well-respected he was.”

Rolly Crump leaves behind his wife, Marie Tocci, three children and three grandchildren, the company said.

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