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All good things come to an end. That's what they say, anyway.
So last year, when I got to the end of "It's Kind of a Cute Story
(Bamboo Forest Publishing, November 2102), I have to admit that I was somewhat
Copyright Bamboo Forest Publishing.All rights reserved
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't the book itself that depressed me. Rolly Crump's
memoir was a thoroughly entertaining read. It's just that ... Well, just like
Jeff Heimbuch (i.e., Crump's co-author on "It's Kind of a Cute
Story"), I've had the chance to talk with and interview this Disney Legend
in the past. And while this 192 page paperback featured hundreds of
entertaining tales from Rolly's days of working at WED, I knew that there were
dozens of other behind-the-scenes stories that Crump & Heimbuch hadn't
included in "It's Kind of a Cute Story." And it made me sad to think
that all of these other great theme park-related anecdotes might now not make
it into print.
Which is which I was thrilled to have "More Cute Stories - Volume 1 :
" show up in the mail earlier this month. This 49 minute
long CD features even more of Rolly's tales. And better than that, it's Crump
himself who's now sharing these stories with you. Thanks to these terrific
recordings (which were collected by Heimbuch and then mixed & mastered by
Leonard Kinsey), you now get to hear Rolly himself tell you what it was like to
be on the Disney Lot in the early 1950s just as Walt was begin to work on
Walt chats with some passengers who took the Disneylandstagecoach out for a test run around the Disney Lot.Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
None of us (who worked) in animation knew what the hell was
going on. And then around 1953, we (began) to see things on the Lot
that were really quite different. Pretty soon you saw Walt riding around in a
carriage or sometimes you'd see him in a stagecoach drawn by horses and he was
always wearing cowboy hats and boots.
Crump also gives you some real insight into the way Walt Disney actually
operated, the way that he worked with his staff:
Crump works on models of the figures that were to have appeared in his Museum of the Weird at Disneyland Park. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
When Yale Gracey and I were assigned to work on The Haunted Mansion, Ken
Anderson's office was right across the
hall from us. So one day he came over and started talking to us. He was the Art
Director and designer of (all of the original Fantasyland) dark rides. He said "You gotta remember
you're the boss. You're in charge. Everybody else has to answer to you. You
make all of the decisions."
The first meeting that we had with Walt (on The Haunted Mansion project), the
first thing that Walt says is "Now remember you guys, whenever you design
a ride, you have to take into consideration the electricians, the people who
are taking care of the air conditioning and everything. This is a team. And
don't you forget that this is a team."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
So at that particular time, I remember thinking that Walt's got it right ...
More to the point, in the tales that Rolly shares on
"More Cute Stories - Volume 1 : Disneyland History," you get to find
out what kind of a man Walt Disney actually was:
There was a hat shop right there on the Jungle Cruise ride.
When Walt got Bill Evans and his brother to come in and do all the landscaping
for Disneyland, Bill's brother passed away with a heart
attack. So Walt really felt bad about that because of his widow and everything.
So Walt actually gave his widow -- Bill Evans' sister-in-law -- the hat shop.
He said "This is a gift for you losing your husband." Which -- of
course -- was a multi-million dollar hat shop because of the amount of hats
& rubber lizards that they sold there was absolutely incredible in those
days. So she had that shop for a number of years.
Or -- for that matter -- what a smart, sharp businessman Disney could be sometimes:
"We were in a meeting with Walt. And we were running out of finances on a
project that Walt wanted to build. And he said that we've been charging people
25 cents to park their cars in Disneyland's parking lot.
But if we start charging people 50 cents and really work it out financially,
that'll pay for the attraction. Which it did. Which is really great."
Or how the Old Mousetro felt about money:
"We were in a meeting one day and Walt came in and he said "I just
want you guys to know that you can design and we will then build anything you
want for Disneyland because you can't believe the amount
of money that 'Mary Poppins' is making."
Walt visits the New Tomorrowland construction site with JohnHench. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
I really couldn't get enough of this recording. Especially when Rolly got
started on what it was like to work at Imagineering back in the late 1950s /
early 1960s. Back when ...
" ... at that point in time, I think that there was
only 60 people working at WED. And that included the janitors, the secretaries,
the designers and everything. So the 60 of us were the group who did everything
up until the World's Fair."
Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey work on the model for the Ford Pavilion which WED designed & built for the 1964 - 65 New York Worlds Fair. CopyrightDisney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
I mean, you can search high & low online. But you're never going to hear
the sorts of stories that Mr. Crump shares on "More Cute Stories - Volume
1: Disneyland History." Tales that give you a real behind-the-scenes
perspective on the challenges people face on a day-to-day basis when they're
working at the Happiest Place
on Earth. Stuff like ...
"When you wash down Main Street
every night with big hoses and everything, you begin to get dry rot on the
buildings. Not only that, but all of the metal lamp posts would get rusty."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
I could go on & on about the other stories that Rolly shared on this CD.
Like the Ice Pick Test. Or the real reason that Walt built the monorails. Or
all the unusual places that Orange County
teenagers found inside of that theme park when they were looking to ... Well,
But why spoil the fun of listening "More Cute Stories -- Volume 1,"
where you can listen to Rolly Crump himself talk about what it was like to work
at Disneyland Park
in the early, early days of the operation. Back ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
... before the freeway was built, there was a highway that
went by Disneyland. And (while Walt) had berms (built)
but he did allow some of the attractions to stick above that. And you could
actually look in there and you could actually see the Pirate Ship. I remember
driving down there and seeing the Pirate Ship and the little Dumbo ride and
everything. So there were always these enticements that he used.
Hopefully this story will be enough of an enticement to pick
up Volume 1 of this new Bamboo Forest Publishing series. Or at the very least
keep an eye out for "More Cute Stories 2" & "More Cute
Stories 3." Which -- according to what Jeff Heimbuch told me earlier this
month at the D23 EXPO -- will be available for purchase later this Fall and
early next Spring.
Copyright 2013 Bamboo Forest Publishing. All rights reserved
Ken Anderson was NOT one of the Nine Old Men.EDITOR'S NOTE: You know, you're right. I was mistaken. I remembered from my copy of Christopher Finch's "The Art of Walt Disney" that Ken Anderson was heavily involved in the development of both "The Aristocats" & "Robin Hood" and then jumped to the wrong conclusion While I was writing this story earlier this week. Assuming that Ken was a member of The Nine Old Men. (you know the old gag about "assume," right?Thanks for pointing out my error. I'll now go make the necessary correction to that story.
Any chance of a transcript for us hearing impaired fans?EDITOR'S NOTE: That's a very interesting question, Scott. Let me forward your note to Jeff Heimbuch & Leonard Kinsey and see if I can then get an answer for you.