Disney Legend Rolly Crump, an integral piece to Walt Disney’s original Imagineering team passed away this weekend at 93. Jeff Heimbuch, author of It’s Kind Of A Cute Story a book on Crump’s work confirmed the news via Facebook.
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, 2023
Hired by Walt Disney Productions in 1952, Crump served as an in-between artist and later, assistant animator, contributing to Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty, and others. He was also an assistant to one of Walt Disney’s “nine old men”, Eric Larson.
In 1959, Crump joined show design at WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering).
In 1963, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened at Disneyland, featuring tikis and totems designed by Crump throughout the attraction and its preshow. Crump then served as key designer on the Disney attractions featured at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, including It’s a Small World, for which he designed the Tower of the Four Winds marquee and many of the papier-mâché toy props seen throughout the ride. When the attraction moved to Disneyland in 1966, Crump designed the iconic clock tower of the attraction’s façade, which has since been replicated at Tokyo Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
With Yale Gracey, Crump designed the Museum of the Weird, an unused attraction concept, several of whose elements were later used in The Haunted Mansion. The concepts were later adapted into a 2014 Marvel comic book series titled Seekers of the Weird, written by Brandon Seifert and illustrated by Karl Moline, with an introduction by Crump himself.
Outside of his work at Disney, Crump designed satirical psychedelic counterculture posters in the 1960s, as well as the packaging and logo for Ernie Ball guitar strings. Crump briefly left Disney in the early 1970s to pursue other theme park projects. In that time, he created the Marvel McFey mascot for AstroWorld and was the lead designer of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Knott’s Bear-y Tales attraction.
In 1976, Crump returned to WED Enterprises to design The Land and Wonders of Life pavilions for EPCOT Center. However, he would leave the company again in 1981, before those pavilions’ openings in 1982 and 1989, respectively. After this departure from Disney, Crump started his own design firm, Mariposa Design Group. There, he consulted on projects such as Busch Gardens, the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, and Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus World.
In 1992, Crump would return to the former WED Enterprises, by then rechristened Walt Disney Imagineering, as Executive Designer. He then designed an updated Land pavilion for EPCOT Center, as well as the transformation of that park’s CommuniCore into Innoventions.
Crump officially retired from Disney in 1996 and was named a Disney Legend in 2004. In 2009, Crump was honored with a window and sign on Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., naming him as the “assistant to the palm reader” of Fargo’s Palm Parlor, an allusion to his “weird” designs and his middle name, Fargo. In 2012, he published his autobiography with Jeff Heimbuch, It’s Kind of a Cute Story. A companion exhibit of the same name ran at the Oceanside Museum of Art from August 2017 to February 2018, featuring Crump’s extensive works with Disney and elsewhere.