Another Disney Legend Has Passed Away

Disney animator and theme park designer Rolly Crump has passed away.

By Britta DeVore | Published

rolly crump disney
Rolly Crump (left) with Walt Disney

It’s been a rough week of losing some familiar names in Hollywood with the recent news of Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) and Chaim Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) both passing in recent days. Variety reports that Rolly Crump, who was a Disney animator from early in the company’s days, passed away on Sunday in Carlsbad, California at 93. Playing a major role in the beginning stages of Disneyland, Crump helped design a slew of notable and beloved attractions within the park.

Not cut from the same cloth as many of his peers, Rolly Crump joined the Disney corporation at the age of 22 with no formal background in art education but with an incredible knack for the job and an imaginative eye to boot. He also differed from his co-workers in the way he presented himself; Crump was known for his anti-establishment and hippie-like look which poured over into his craft where he created many pieces centered around pop art and drug culture. It was through his eye-catching designs for rock bands and jazz musicians as well as his earlier works on films like Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty, and Lady and the Tramp that he was noticed by the man at the top – Walt Disney.

rolly crump disney
Lady and the Tramp

Rolly Crump quickly rose through the ranks after catching the eye of Walt Disney with the company’s head plucking him out of his animation department job and dropping him in with the folks planning Disneyland in 1959. As one of the original members of the Imagineering Department, Crump’s vision can be seen all over the massive park where he helped design attractions such as It’s a Small World, Tomorrowland, the Haunted Mansion, and the Enchanted Tiki Room. A knack for the vibrant world of tiki design, Crump would also help mold Disneyland Hotel’s bar Trader Sam’s with its South Seas design. 

Outside of his time at the happiest place on Earth, the California native continued his love for making the joy and wonder of amusement parks come together across the United States. After Rolly Crump bowed out of his Disney Imagineering job in the 1970s, he would go on to leave his mark on other theme parks including Knott’s Berry Farm and Busch Gardens. The chances of spotting his work in the wilds of America’s most beloved amusement parks seem to be pretty high as he was one of the most sought-after designers of his time. 

And, although he found fulfillment in other projects, Rolly Crump just couldn’t resist the pull of Disney and would return to the fold later in life. It was during these years that he took on Disney’s Epcot Center pavilions “The Land” and “Wonders of Life.” Acknowledging the hard work and dedication, not to mention all the blood, sweat, and tears that Crump poured into the shaping of the parks during his tenure with the company, he was named a Disney Legend in 2004.

Sharing his notable career in design and parks development, Crump came out with his own autobiography in 2012 titled It’s Kind of a Cute Story. If you’re looking for a design specific to Rolly Crump while checking out Disneyland, look no further than the clock on the classic ride “It’s a Small World,” which Crump designed alongside Disney Artist Mary Blair. Our condolences go out to Crump’s wife, three children, and three grandchildren.