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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Rolly Crump

At about the 7-minute mark: Rolly and his Museum of the Weird.

Walt Disney assigned Rolly Crump to work with Yale Gracey on the Haunted Mansion in 1959. Rolly maintains that he learned a lot from Yale during their time together. They were given a room on the second floor of the animation building, and they had a year to develop illusions specifically for the Haunted Mansion.

Rolly came to Walt’s attention when Ward Kimball told Walt about Rolly’s propeller sculptures. IN 1964, Rolly would apply his knowledge of kinetic sculptures to the “Tower of the Four Winds” for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

Rolly’s Haunted Mansion concepts were considered too weird by his fellow imagineers. Walt, however, thought they could be used in a spillover area where guests could interact with a chair that talked, the melting candleman, or a coffin-styled grandfather clock. Rolly also came up with a concept for a haunted gypsy cart. Walt called it the “Museum of the Weird.” The concept failed to materialize after Walt’s death.

Rolly and Yale were giving time and freedom to do what they wanted with their day. The created the illusions that are part of one of the most beloved attractions at Disneyland. Even though the Museum of the Weird never materialized, Rolly’s willingness to try new things made him a great imagineer. You can follow his example and try new things, too!

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Yale Gracey

Yale Gracey joined the Disney Company in 1939 as a layout artist. He worked on “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia” and “the Three Caballeros.” In 1959, Walt Disney set Gracey up with Rolly Crump and gave them a large room on the second floor of the animation building. They were instructed to come up with effects for the Haunted Mansion.

As the son of an American Consul, Gracey grew up in various places and had to learn to entertain himself. He filled his days with “Popular Mechanics’ and the book set called “Boy Mechanic.” He also practiced magic.

Gracey had no formal training in special effects, but his curiosity often led to him building miniatures to see if he could get an effect to work. According to Bob Gurr (Kurtti, p. 72), Gracey was given the time and space to tinker without deadlines, and Walt was fine with whatever new thing Gracey invented.

Gracey projected the face of the Magic Mirror on everything in the room one day. It led to the development of the Madame Leota effect (Kurtti, p. 73). Gracey also put the Pepper’s Ghost effect to use in the Haunted Mansion to create the Ballroom scene. Gracey died under mysterious circumstances in 1983.

Gracey tried to do new things. He tinkered, and he followed his curiosity. You can do the same thing. Follow your curiosity and create something new.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park” by Jeff Kurtti.

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

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Check out my Interview at the Sweep Spot!

Haunted Mansion Is Creativity cover

I was interviewed by Ken Pellman and Lynn Barron from The Sweep Spot for “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity!” My newest book uses the history and structure of the Haunted Mansion, just in time for its 50th anniversary, to illustrate creativity principles.

Ken and Lynn are former cast members from Disneyland. The Sweep Spot is a podcast that talks about all things Disney, including current events. The two hosts have written “Cleaning the Kingdom” and will be releasing their second book “Cleaning the Kingdom: Night, Day Past and Present” on July 17. Visit their website and check out their books, t-shirts and Patreon.

During Podcast 263, I am at about the 30-minute mark for stories about the Haunted Mansion, Journey Into Imagination and creativity. After my interview is Alastair Dallas, author of “Inventing Disneyland.” Check out the podcast and get some books!

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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson was laid off by MGM in 1934. He was married and spent a month “living on the beaches and eating canned beans and what-not” (The Disney Family Album). He applied to the Walt Disney Company at the urging of his wife Polly even though his education was in architecture. Anderson’s additional accomplishments include work on “The Goddess of Spring,” “Ferdinand the Bull,” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Anderson was the first imagineer to really work on the Haunted Mansion as an attraction. Harper Goff did a drawing of a haunted house as part of the Mickey Mouse park Walt Disney was considering in 1951, and Marvin Davis gave a haunted mansion a place in Disneyland that never materialized.

In 1957, Anderson wrote his first storylines for the Haunted Mansion. He researched houses in the south and went to the Winchester Mystery House to look at group movements and timings. His storylines included a captain/pirate who killed his new bride, a ghostly family that kept the mansion from being renovated, a tour led by Walt Disney, and a mansion that used the Headless Horseman and the classic monsters of literature.

Anderson suffered a stroke after the release of “101 Dalmatians.” He lost the ability to move and was left blind by the stroke. He had “absolutely no control” over his body. He came back with the inspiration from a grove of trees and worked on Shere Khan for “The Jungle Book.”

Ken Anderson worked for Disney for 44 years. He is one of the few unsung heroes of the Haunted Mansion. Without his first treatments and ideas for the inside, we may not have the classic attraction that exists today. Let his example help you improve your work situation, perseverance and creativity.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

“The Disney Family Album: Ken Anderson” aired on the Disney Channel in 1984. Accessed at https://youtu.be/mSPnwK2yPtQ

“Ken Anderson; Disney Art Director, 84” in the New York Times. Accessed at https://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/19/obituaries/ken-anderson-disney-art-director-84.html

For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

You can also find more articles about Disney, Disneyland and creativity at our archive website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, and on our blog. If you would like to get even more articles about creativity, join our Patreon and become a Penguinator.

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We got Table A1 at Lilac City Comicon 2019

Booth set up for Lilac City Comicon
Booth set up for Lilac City Comicon

Lilac City Comicon 2019 released its floor plan for their June 1 and 2 extravaganzas in Spokane. Penguinate.com got table A1! We’re like a steak sauce! Or maybe we just make the grade. Either way, we’re super excited to have an amazing table. But we’re not the only ones who are excited…

Our penguins haven’t been able to keep themselves quiet since they heard about our next adventure. Penny Penguin has been wanting to fly for a long time now. Since she is our most traveled penguin, she’s taken on the fathering role of making sure all the younger penguins know what’s going to happen. They’ve packed their bags – mostly, fish – and create a commotion every time we go to the door to leave the house. (They have no sense of time, so they think every day is THE day.) For every penguin that gets adopted, we will send $1 to the Global Penguin Society.

marching penguins
marching penguins

I am personally excited because Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is turning 50 this year and I will be presenting “Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.” This panel will highlight principles of creativity using the Haunted Mansion as our guide. Be prepared for stories about the Haunted Mansion and we’ll have a swinging wake!

This will also be the first time I get to present my new book to the world. “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” is a tour of the Haunted Mansion and a look at its history. I use those events and the structure of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion to illustrate principles of creativity. If you want to be creative and love the Haunted Mansion, this is the book for you.

Of course, I will bring my other books. You can see a list here and preorder for Lilac City Comicon, so you don’t have to worry about books or penguins being sold out. Ask us about our motivational posters, photos of Disneyland, and Russian lobby cards (mini-movie posters from Russia).

Good news, if you’ve made it this far, then you’re in the know. We’re going to have a secret giveaway… But for now, it’s a secret… Stay tuned to this blog for more information. (You can sign up in the corner for notifications.)

We’re looking forward to a great con! Come by and say “Hi!”

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‘The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity’ eBook Now Available at Amazon.com for Preorder

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity cover

In case you missed it, “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” is available for preorder at Amazon.com. The second book in the “Disneyland Is Creativity” takes a look at the Haunted Mansion’s history and structure and relates them to creativity principles to help you become more creative.

While the Haunted Mansion opened on August 9, 1969, it’s history dates back more than a decade before when Harper Goff drew the first haunted house concept in 1951 as part of a church and graveyard. The façade was finished in 1963, but it took 6 more years for the technology to develop and the concept to work. This delay allowed the Disney team to learn more as well as explore hundreds of ideas before choosing the right one. Creativity requires lots of ideas, time to be creative, and patience to choose the right idea to develop.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t failures. The Haunted Mansion was supposed to open in 1963 instead, Marty Sklar wrote a sign that said the team was busy gathering ghosts. A short-lived effect called “the Hatbox Ghost” didn’t work when the Haunted Mansion opened, and it was removed until the effect could be done correctly. (It was reinstalled in 2015.) Creativity comes with failures and mistakes.

Just in time to celebrate Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary, the eBook is scheduled to be released June 1 and 2 to coincide with Lilac City Comicon 2019 in Spokane where I will be presenting “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.”

The book tour will continue at City Cakes and Café in Salt Lake City. On June 7 to 9, we’ll be at Ogden UnCon where I will present “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” on Sunday. Currently, our last scheduled stop will be at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con from June 14 to 16.

Click on the link to preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” in paperback. Get “Disneyland Is Creativity” in paperback here and in eBook on Amazon.

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Ogden UnCon 2019 Schedule: First Look

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity cover

I am attending Ogden UnCon as an artist and vendor, which means I will be spending a lot of time at my table with my wife Jenya and author Drue M. Scott selling books and penguins while enjoying the cosplayers and conversations that happen at an event like this. I won’t get much time to do anything more than go to my own panel on Sunday at 11:30 am – “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.”

However, that can’t stop me from enjoying the idea of going to panels and making up an imaginary schedule of the ones I would attend. Since this is a first look, panels are subject to change. Since this is the first time I have ever attended the Ogden UnCon, it’s hard to say what the entry into events and panels will be like, so I will choose one thing that I absolutely must do and work around that event or panel. Also, it’s important to note that rooms will be cleared in between panels, so being in the room at the panel before the one you won’t help. VIPs get “line teleportation” but must show up 10 minutes before the start of the panel.

Friday Panels

On Friday, it looks like the only question for me would be whether I should go to “The Philosophy of Spoilers” or “How to Turn Your Blog into a Book Production Machine.” I’m not exactly sure what will be discussed in the “Philosophy of Spoilers.” It could go so many ways, and that’s its appeal. Blog-into-book would allow me to learn the philosophy of taking blog posts and turning them into books, which, as you know if you’ve seen either “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories” or “Penguinate! The Disney Company,” could be extremely useful for me. They happen at the same time, so I’m unsure which I would choose, but I’m leaning toward Blog-into-book even though I think Spoilers could be amazing.

At 1:00, Jack Stauffer who was on the original “Battlestar Galactica” will have a panel. I have met Dirk Benedict at Malta Comics and Pop Culture Expo and Richard Hatch during a Salt Lake Comic Con press conference. Seeing Stauffer on stage would allow me to fill out my BSG check list if I had such a thing. Maybe I should dig out my Viper from the ‘70s.

At 3:00, I would head to “Aim to Misbehave: Firefly/Serenity.” Utah has historically had a large contingent of dedicated Browncoats. This panel is sure to be a blast.

If I can get from the Firefly panel to the Star Trek panel featuring Tracee Lee Cocco at 4:00 pm, I would do so. They are in the same venue and close to each other. I don’t think I would have to choose between the two; it might be possible to check out of the Browncoats rally early to experience the Next Generation.

OMG! “Land of the Lost!” This is one of those shows I grew up with but left my memory until Ogden UnCon reminded me of it. With all of the celebs for this panel, this is the one must-do of the day. There shouldn’t be any problems getting there unless I stop for food. It’s scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Saturday Panels

At 10:30 am, Mort Castle is scheduled to present “The Story of a Story: Imagination + Reality.” I’m interested in hearing his thoughts on imagination because a lot of what’s out there, academically speaking, is tied too closely to creativity. It seems like imagination is often the forgotten ingredient in creating.

At 11:00, “The Land of the Lost” panel gets a second engagement. If I missed the one from the night before, I would definitely hit this one.

What I assume is the major draw for this UnConvention, the “Black Sails” panel is at 1 pm. I haven’t seen any episodes, yet, but I’m going to get Netflix to help me change that, so I’d have some context.

“Run, Holly, Run!” is at 4 pm and will have Kathy Coleman talking about her acting experience and her book. It’s a book I’ll have to pick up, even if I’m not going to the panel. Anyone know where I can get a copy?

Sunday Panels

Sunday would be my packed day. With so many great panels competing for my attention, I would certainly miss out on something. The panels I would go to are dependent on why I was at the UnCon. At 10, “The Bestiary of HP Lovecraft” is competing with Phil Paley’s presentation on creating a safe haven for Monarch Butterflies in your backyard. I used to cover conventions as a social activism journalist, but I enjoyed “The Call of Cthulu.” It’s a toss-up, and they both compete with the 10:30 starting “How to Become an Author of Change” panel, which butts up against “Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” at 11:30.

So, while I would love to attend the Author of Change Panel, I’m leaning toward Monarch Butterflies, which gives me enough time to get to my own panel.

I’ve got stiff competition during the same time as my panel. Tracee Lee Cocco of Star Trek fame is at 11:30. Chris Kattan is at noon as is the “new Lost in Space” panel. How do you choose? I’ll miss those because I’ll be presenting on the Haunted Mansion and creativity.

This is my bare bones UnCon schedule if I were to go as a fan. As a reporter, I would stuff the schedule more. Of course, there are a lot of panels, things to do, artists on the floor you should visit, and I haven’t covered most of them. So, which panels would you attend? And which artists, vendors and activities are looking forward to the most? Leave your comments below.

You can get tickets to Ogden UnCon here (takes you off site). Don’t miss out on penguins or books, preorder your swag from our table here and have it waiting for you at our table. Remember, members of our Patreon Penguinators get a discount at our table at all the events we attend.

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The Cover Reveal for ‘The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity’

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion was always my favorite Disneyland attraction growing up. Sure, I enjoyed singing and clapping with the Country Bears. I had fun sailing with pirates in the Caribbean, and I really loved Adventures thru Inner Space. However, it was the Haunted Mansion and its magic that remained the attraction I would choose to go on first.

This year marks the Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary. Because of that, I wanted to delve deeper into its history and its links to creative principles. From the late 1950s when Ken Anderson was the only imagineer assigned to the project through to Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump’s shenanigans to opening day and beyond, “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” takes you on a tour of the home of 999 happy haunts linking attraction details and designs as well as stories of its creation to creative principles as revealed through scientific studies and interviews with people who create for a living.

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” is scheduled to be available on June 1, 2019. I will be presenting “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” at Lilac City Comicon 2019 and Ogden UnCon 2019.

Without further ado… Here is the amazing cover for “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” designed by Antonisa Scott and Transcend Studio:

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The Secrets of Creativity: Play (and the Haunted Mansion)

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

When Walt Disney assigned Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump to the Haunted Mansion, he gave them time and space to play. Gracey and Crump were assigned to come up with ideas and effects for the Disneyland attraction. They would come into the studio and work on whatever they felt like. As Marty Sklar put it in the forward to Jason Surrell’s “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” “Yale and Rolly Crump, especially, were free to experiment, to try out their wildest haunting ideas… to ‘play ghost’ if you will.”

They came up with so many different, convincing effects that they received a call from Personnel asking them to leave the lights on for the janitor when they left for the night. Gracey and Crump complied, but rigged an infrared sensor in the middle of the room. When triggered, the lights turned off, the black light came on, and the effects activated. They arrived the next morning into find a broom in the middle of the room. Later that day, they were told they would have to clean the room themselves; the janitor would not go back in the room.

Gracey and Crump kept a playful attitude, worked with humor and were open to new ideas while they designed, researched and tested the effects for the Haunted Mansion. Their play made the Haunted Mansion the classic attraction it is today.

Playing can help you become more creative. When you play, mistakes become a part of the story and you can’t fail. You free your mind to explore possibilities and new ideas while limiting your inhibitions. R2-D2 builder Tony Dyson believed that play was an important part of the creative mode.

For more on creativity, preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” For more on the Disney Company, order “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

Join us at Lilac City Comicon 2019 and Ogden UnCon 2019 to experience our panel “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.” Make sure you tell them penguinate.com sent you!

To read more about play and other secrets to creativity, join our Patreon.

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My Niece, the Haunted Mansion and Fear

Niece and Minnie at Disneyland

When my oldest niece was about five, my mom and I took her on the Haunted Mansion. We went through the Stretching Room, down the Portrait Gallery and boarded the same Doom Buggy. As we rolled up the stairs and into the mansion, I was getting into it. The Haunted Mansion isn’t scary, but it’s fun to pretend it is.

So, I was taking everything seriously. The armor, the endless hallway with the floating candelabra, the chair that seems to be staring at you. Each new “horror” made me look more fearful. As we rotated to see the body trying to get out of the coffin, my mom hit me in the shoulder.

“Lighten up. You’re scaring your niece,” she whispered at me.

I switched the way I was looking at the mansion and laughed at its humorous elements. I kept smiling through the ride, and my niece had a great time. She wasn’t afraid of no ghosts.

Fortunately, the team of Claude Coats and Marc Davis helped to provide the elements of a frightening atmosphere and comic presentations. (Of course, there are plenty of contributions from other prominent imagineers, like Rolly Crump and his human-like furniture and wallpaper and the effects pioneered by Yale Gracey with Crump.) So, you can see the Haunted Mansion the way you want to. It is the creativity that the team put into the mansion that makes it a classic attraction that everyone loves.

For more on the Haunted Mansion and creativity, preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” You can also get “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World.”

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”