“Words may not fully describe designer and Imagineer Rolly Crump. So to get a handle on this spirited, multi-talented Disney designer, think Leonardo DaVinci’s Universal Man.” –D23.com
The entire Disney community has suffered an immense loss as one of the most influential contributors to the wonderful world of all things Disney, Imagineer Roland Fargo Crump, passed away on Sunday, March 12. He was 93 years old. Oh, but he was so young.
Roland “Rolly” Crump was born in Alhambra, California, on February 27, 1930, and officially stepped into his role at The Walt Disney Studios when he was only 22 years old in 1952.
In 1959, Rolly joined the show design team at WED Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. His young age was no deterrent for Walt Disney, who saw ingenuity, greatness, and promise in the young Crump. Disneyland was only four years old at the time, and Rolly became one of Walt’s key designers for many of the park’s new attractions and shops. He was especially instrumental in the development of the Haunted Mansion attraction and the Enchanted Tiki Room. He also lent his unique brand of creativity and insight to the Adventureland Bazaar at Disneyland.
Rolly served as a key designer on the Disney attractions featured at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including it’s a small world, for which he designed the Tower of the Four Winds marquee. When the attraction moved to Disneyland in 1966, Rolly designed the larger-than-life animated clock at its entrance, which sends puppet children on parade with each quarter-hour gong.
After contributing to the initial design of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, and developing story and set designs for NBC’s Disney on Parade in 1970, Rolly left the Company to consult on projects including Busch Gardens in Florida and California, the ABC Wildlife Preserve in Maryland, and Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus World in Florida, among others.
He returned in 1976 to contribute to EPCOT Center, serving as project designer for The Land and the Wonders of Life pavilions. He also participated in master planning for an expansion of Disneyland until 1981, when he again departed to lead design on a proposed Cousteau Ocean Center in Norfolk, Virginia, and to launch his own firm, the Mariposa Design Group, developing an array of themed projects around the world, including an international celebration for the country of Oman.
In 1992, Rolly returned to Imagineering as executive designer, redesigning and refurbishing The Land and Innoventions at Epcot Center. Rolly “retired” from The Walt Disney Company in 1996, but continued to work on a number of creative projects. He released his autobiography, “It’s Kind of a Cute Story,” in 2012.
Rolly is honored along Main Street, U. S. A., at Disneyland Resort in California with a sign that reads, “Fargo’s Palm Parlor.” Guests can see the sign along Main Street, U. S. A., at the front of Disneyland Park.
Rolly will be forever remembered for his kindness, brilliance, ingenuity, insight, and humor, and for his contributions to the history and development of the Disney Parks, and fans of Rolly, this writer included, will look back on his memory fondly for years to come.
Until we meet again, Mr. Crump, fare thee well.