Rolly Crump Dies: Legendary Disneyland Designer Was 93
Rolly Crump, one of Disneyland’s most important designers, who made crucial contributions to such attractions as the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World and the Enchanted Tiki Room, died Sunday at his home in Carlsbad, CA, where he was under hospice care. He was 93.
His death was announced on the Facebook page of his autobiography It’s Kind of a Cute Story.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Roland ‘Rolly’ Fargo Crump passed away peacefully yesterday morning at his home in Carlsbad, CA,” the statement reads. “He was 93 years old.”
Crump, who worked as an assistant animator on such Disney classics as Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, joined WED Enterprises — the division that would later become Walt Disney Imagineering — in 1959. There he became a designer of some of Disneyland’s most popular and enduring attractions and stores, including The Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room and Adventureland Bazaar.
“Rolly’s most notable work for The Walt Disney Company has profoundly impacted the theme park industry over the years,” the Facebook post says. “He leaves behind a legacy that can never be matched, and the magic he crafted for countless people worldwide will never be forgotten.”
In addition to his work for Disney, Crump made significant design contributions to Knott’s Berry Farm, Busch Gardens, the Sultan of Oman and many more. A devotee and practitioner of pop art and ’60s-era psychedelic posters, Crump designed the packaging for Ernie Ball guitar strings, familiar imagery to guitar players everywhere.
Born on February 27, 1930, in Alhambra, CA, Crump, he would later write in his autobiography, became enamored of Walt Disney’s early Silly Symphony cartoons, and realized his childhood dreams when he joined the company’s animation department in 1952, eventually assigned to such chores as filling in the dots on the puppies of One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Crump was handpicked by Walt Disney to design what would become the famous It’s a Small World clock, based on the artwork of Disney’s Mary Blair. The attraction debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York before moving to Disneyland.
Although some of his designs contributed to the Haunted Mansion, others became the stuff of Disneyland legend for not making the final cut, including a talking chair and a fireplace cauldron.
Striking out on his own in the 1970s, Crump helped design Knott’s Berry Farm’s Knott’s Bear-y Tales in 1975, and he worked on designs for Busch Gardens, the ABC Wildlife Preserve in Maryland and Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus World. He returned to Disney in 1976 to work on Walt Disney World’s Epcot, contributing to the Land and Wonders of Life pavilions at the Epcot Center.
He left Disney again in 1981 to design a proposed Cousteau Ocean Center in Norfolk, VA, then returned to Disney in 1992 as executive designer at Imagineering. He retired from Disney in 1996.
Crump was named a Disney Legend in 2004, and published his autobiography It’s Kind of a Cute Story in 2012.
He is survived by wife Marie Tocci, son Christopher, daughters Roxana and Theresa, and three grandchildren.
Here is the full statement announcing his death:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Roland “Rolly” Fargo Crump passed away peacefully yesterday morning at his home in Carlsbad, CA. He was 93 years old.
A truly one-of-a-kind individual, Rolly’s whimsical work has been featured all over the world. Whether it was his numerous contributions to the Walt Disney films & theme parks, his work for various pop culture luminaries (like Ernie Ball and Jacques Cousteau), or his own personal artwork, Rolly’s incredible style was uniquely his and instantly recognizable to many.
Rolly’s most notable work for The Walt Disney Company has profoundly impacted the theme park industry over the years. His designs contributed to the company’s most famous attractions, such as The Enchanted Tiki Room, the Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and more. His work went well beyond Disney, too, as he went on to create iconic work for Knott’s Berry Farm, Busch Gardens, the Sultan of Oman, and many more.
He leaves behind a legacy that can never be matched, and the magic he crafted for countless people worldwide will never be forgotten.
Rolly and his family would like to thank the fans for supporting his work over the years. His entire life was filled with one “kind of a cute story” after the next, and he will be remembered with lots of love.
February 27, 1930 – March 12, 20