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.
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