The Museum of the Weird is a major piece of Disney lore, an attraction that was meant to be an add-on to the Haunted Mansion but sadly was never built. 40+ years later the Museum still holds a special place in the heart of Disney fans and modern-day Disney Imagineers, so it was finally realized this year.
Learn about how the Museum of the Weird was brought to life...but not as a theme park attraction.
The creator of the Museum, Imagineer Rolly Crump
Roland Fargo Crump started working at Walt Disney Studio at the age of 22 in Animation. He first caught the eye of Walt Disney with a display in the Studio Library made up of colorful propellers that served as the inspiration of the Tower of the Four Winds, designed for the “It’s a Small World” ride in Fantasyland. Walt moved Rolly out of the Animation department and into WED Enterprises, later known as Walt Disney Imagineering, to become one of the original Imagineers. He worked for Disney for over 40 years, and in 2004 was presented the Walt Disney Legends Award that acknowledged his role in helping to create the Magic of Disney.
Origins of the Museum of the Weird
Rolly Crump is probably best known for his contributions to the Haunted Mansion. Along with Imagineer Yale Gracey, Rolly designed many of the illusions that appear in the Mansion. But five years before the attraction opened in 1969 Rolly started devising plans with Walt Disney for a new part of the Haunted Mansion: the Museum of the Weird. The attraction was meant to have two portions: the main body of the walk-through attraction and a spill area that would spotlight curiosities supposedly uncovered from around the world. Rolly created a number of pieces of artwork to show off what he wanted the Museum of the Weird to become.
The Museum of the Weird was actually announced as an upcoming attraction by Walt Disney
Walt Disney and Rolly Crump went on television during the Disney Tencennial in 1965 to showcase the Museum of the Weird to the public. Sadly, Walt died in 1966, and things really changed. Without Walt Disney guiding the way, the Museum lost traction and was put on hold indefinitely. However, because it was announced to the public, the Museum of the Weird became a piece of Disney lore that fans have been excited about since Walt Disney appeared on their screens in 1965. Many hoped that the Museum would eventually debut in some form. Eventually, they got their wish.
Pieces of the Museum made it into the mansion
Once it became apparent that the Museum of the Weird wasn’t moving forward, Disney Imagineers must have decided to incorporate some of Rolly’s designs into the Haunted Mansion itself. Look at the drawing by Rolly and the chair that was added to the Mansion years after it was illustrated. One clearly served as inspiration for the other. The cart you see outside the Haunted Mansion, as well, originated from one of Crump’s illustrations.
The future of Rolly Crump’s creation was decided at… a baseball game?!
According to Marvel Comics editor Bill Roseman, the Disney Kingdoms imprint began shortly after Marvel joined Disney when Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada attended a baseball game with a team of modern day Imagineers. Together they mulled over possible projects before they settled on creating action-packed worlds out of Disney’s greatest theme park attractions. A few years later that resulted in Seekers of the Weird, a five-issue comic book miniseries about an epic that takes place within the much talked about Museum of the Weird.
Rolly Crump gave his blessing
In a video interview with themed entertainment website InsideTheMagic.net, Rolly Crump revealed his excitement that the Museum would return after being buried for so many years. He still holds out some hope that the Museum may even be built someday. Rolly said he was really impressed by how the Seekers of the Weird comic book incorporated so many of his designs into the finished project, and really liked what he’d seen.
The writer did his research
In an interview writer Brandon Seifert said that to prepare to pen Seekers of the Weird he read as much as he could about the Museum and Rolly’s intentions for it. He read the chapter from his memoir about it, listened to uncut interviews with Rolly, and read sites like DoomBuggies that discuss the history of the Haunted Mansion and related attractions. He also researched Disney movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion to get an idea of how exactly you turn an amusement park attraction into a story. He also looked into classic movies and TV shows like Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Doctor Who, all pieces of fiction that take the term “all ages” and use it accurately. Brandon wanted to write Seekers of the Weird as a story that really is for people of any age, rather than a story that’s really just for kids but gets termed “all ages”.