Disneyland has not one, but two working, vintage orchestrions. What’s an orchestrion? It’s kind of like a one-man band, only there’s no man, and it’s 100% mechanical. Disney’s Welte orchestrion is pretty well known, but their 2nd one is a bit more hard-to-find, buried deep in Frontierland.
Let’s talk about Orchestrion number one first. It’s been in the Candy Palace (on Main Street USA) since opening day July 17, 1955. In his very excellent book, The Disneyland Story, Sam Gennawey tells us that Walt Disney purchased the orchestrion from Bud Hurlbut in 1953. Bud had been doing work with Knott’s Berry Farm at the time.
A few details of the Welte Orchestrion…
- Welte Style 4, Concert Orchestrion
- Manufactured in Freiburg, Germany in 1907
- Built to simulate an orchestra
- Has 265 pipes, bass drum, snare drum, timpani, cymbal & triangle
- Plays 75 key Welte roll music
To hear the Welte Orchestrion actually play, check out the video further down below.
Next up is Orchestrion #2. While still an orchestrion, this one is much different from the Welte above. First of all, it was not manufactured in Europe, but in Chicago IL by the Nelson-Wiggen Piano Company. It used to be displayed in the Main Street Disneyland train station. It’s now been moved to the back of the Silver Spur Supplies store in Frontierland.
The Nelson-Wiggen Orchestrion is in this Frontierland store.
The Nelson-Wiggen orchestrion…
While I don’t have a lot of historical information on this orchestrion, it appears that this might be a Style 5 or 5x “orchestra” manufactured around 1925 or so. For more information, here’s a link to the Nelson-Wiggin Piano Company.
To hear both orchestrions actually play, check out the 2 minute video below.