Legacy Content

LP Lotion: Disneyland Honors Veteran Imagineers Rolly Crump and Don Edgren with Window Ceremony
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Posted April 30, 2009

April 29, 2009

As the sun peeked over the rooftops, friends, family, and admirers of Rolly Crump and Don Edgren gathered on Main Street USA. Disneyland was about to honor the veteran Imagineers with the dedication of two special windows.

The Dapper Dans matched the mood of the surroundings, singing a medley of old fashioned songs. Joining them, and leading the applause, was the Mayor of Main Street himself. He was there not only to offer tribute to two of Disneyland’s “sensational citizens,” but to offer his delivery of Walt Disney’s own opening day speech. After a couple of interruptions to read announcements (in one, Tillie, the Main Street ticket taker was congratulated for working 53 years, nine months and twelve days without a single absence; in another Abraham Lincoln announced he was still on vacation from the Opera House, but could be reached at his Gettysburg address), the Mayor introduced the President of Disneyland, Ed Grier.

Grier welcomed the crowd, saying it was a wonderful morning for a wonderful ceremony. He noted that Walt Disney himself had instituted this tradition, starting in 1955. To discuss this day’s two legendary honorees, Grier introduced a legend in his own right, Disney’s Imagineering Ambassador, Marty Sklar.

Sklar began, “There is no Imagineer that epitomizes the international development of Disney’s parks and resorts business more than Don Edgren.” He went on to laud Edgren, noting that he and his wife had traveled to New York, Florida and Tokyo on behalf of Disney. He especially noted Edgren’s importance in establishing the company’s professional engineering organization. From 1954 to 1987 (with only one “outside transgression”) Edgren met every challenge that Disney had to offer, including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Florida project, and Tokyo Disneyland. Named a Disney Legend in 2006, Edgren was noted for his “Can Do” attitude in his dealings with Walt and the creative teams who followed. Of course, Marty noted with a twinkle, Edgren did continue to receive “heavenly telephone calls from Walt,” complete with special messages and instructions, in his later years.

Moving on to the day’s second honoree, Sklar said, “When Rolly Crump was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2004, the first sentence in the booklet prepared for the occasion read as followed: Words may not fully describe designer and Imagineer Rolly Crump, he was a true original, even among the Imagineers.” Sklar agreed, noting that photos of Rolly’s signature attraction designs would better serve to show his range. Among them were the Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s a small world, the Ford Pavilion for the New York World’s Fair, the Haunted Mansion, the Land Pavilion, Wonders of Life, and Innoventions in Epcot. Outside of Disney, Rolly’s work can be seen in Las Vegas, Knott’s Berry Farm, Busch Gardens, the Ringling Brothers Circus World, and the Cousteau Ocean Center. Walt appreciated Rolly, Sklar said, because he was willing to take risks.

Before unveiling the windows, the Dapper Dans presented a musical tribute. There seemed to be some sort of mix up with their music, though, leading to a series of musical miscues and mash-ups. Certainly no one in the crowd expected to hear the words of it’s a small world sung to the tune of Grim Grinning Ghosts!

The Mayor of Disneyland next introduced Disneyland’s most beloved resident, Mickey Mouse. As Mickey and Marty Sklar prepared to unveil Rolly’s window, the ringing of an old-fashioned telephone was heard. Taking the call, the Mayor announced it was Don Edgren, on the line with some special instructions from Walt. It seems Walt had told Don he wanted them to unveil Don’s window first. Noting that Walt was still, “the boss,” Mickey and Marty obliging pulled the velvet rope to reveal Don Edgren’s window. With a “drum roll” from the Dapper Dans and a burst of confetti, it was revealed for all to see.

Located above the Silhouette Studio, the window represents Don Edgren, Chief Engineer of Yesmen Engineering Associates. Images include a telephone and a plumbline. The text reads:

Yesmen Engineering Associates,
No Challenge Too Big for our Yes Men!
We Know No “No,”

Don Edgren, Chief Engineer.

Accepting the award on behalf of her father was Edgren’s daughter Cathy and her husband. After admiring a replica window presented to the family, Cathy offered her thanks for the honor on behalf of her mother and the entire family. “I know dad is watching this morning,” she said, “With a great deal of gratitude and pride. He loved his career with Disney.”  Cathy spoke fondly of the travel opportunities her father’s career had offered. She also shared a personal memory of attending the opening day of Disneyland as an eight-year-old, and meeting the great Davy Crockett, although she ruefully admitted she could see little more than his belt buckle. Noting that she and her sister had worked at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Cathy concluded that her father, “was very proud to be a part of this legacy. He was very proud to be a part of Walt’s dream.”

Marty and Mickey then prepared to unveil Rolly’s window. But again, a telephone rang. It was Don Edgren (again!) calling to check on the window. After being assured it was “really you,” Don went on to explain that Walt had another message for Rolly. It seemed a redesign was needed for the Pearly Gates. But, to the relief of all, there was no rush on this particular task. (“Good news for you, huh!” quipped the Mayor.)

There was another “drum roll” from the Dapper Dans, and another burst of confetti as Marty and Mickey unveiled Rolly’s window. Located over the porch of the China Closet, the window reads:

Fargo’s Palm Parlor,
Predictions That Will Haunt You,
Bazaar, Whimsical & Weird,
Designs to Die For,
Roland F. Crump,
Assistant to the Palm Reader

Three cards are included, with images of a Tiki, the Tower of the Four Winds, and the Coffin Clock from the Museum of the Weird. A central design, a palm clutching a gem, is repeated in a smaller sign hanging over the sidewalk.

At the invitation to step forward, Rolly hesitated only a moment, then took the lectern. “Once I get started, I’ll be here for three months,” he warned. Rolly first acknowledged Don Edgren, then thanked his son for making it possible for him to be there that day. He noted that his son, Christopher, entered the same business he was in, which was initially somewhat awkward. Everywhere he went, people would refer to him as “Rolly’s kid.” Finally, came the day when Rolly was introduced as “Chris’s dad.”

As the crowd chuckled, Rolly shared two “cute” stories about Walt. The first involved the Tiki Room, its mechanical birds, and the Tiki gods that Rolly designed for the entrance patio. The second involved his name. After first referring to him as Roland, then Owen, then Orland, and finally What’s-his-name, Walt finally settled on Rolly. “I would answer to anything,” admitted Rolly.

To conclude the event, the Mayor of Main Street made a final attempt to deliver Walt’s opening day speech. But, for a third time, the phone rang. It was, inevtiably, Don Edgren again, this time sending a heavenly messenger. The white clad delivery man arrived, bearing an envelope with the speech Walt had delivered at the dedication of the Magic Skyway at the New York World’s Fair. Walt wanted Marty to read it, Don said.

“All dreams begin in the minds of men,” Marty began. “Men of vision, faith, and imagination, men of science and industry, education and the arts. Man is always on the move, searching and dreaming, beyond the horizons of today, and bringing the promise of tomorrow ever closer to reality.” As he closed the folder, he concluded, “Sounds like Walt.”


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Crowd gathered in the middle of Main Street USA
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