Did you ever hear the clickety-clack of the telegraph machine at Disneyland’s New Orleans Square Train Station? No? Well, neither have I. Haha, just kidding.
Well those dots and dashes you hear coming out of the “telegraph” are not some random mumbo jumbo. They’re actually tapping out a real message. It’s a paraphrasing of the first two lines of Walt’s Opening Day speech in 1955. As I have often said, Disney’s genius is in the details. And these details are everywhere in the parks, if you just look for them. Check out this two-minute video (after the jump) to learn the actual words being telegraphed…
Disney RR Station telegraph – a deeper dive
That’s the quick story, but if you want to dig even deeper, there are some sharp-eyed Disney observers out there who know even more about this attraction. For example, Bruce Bergman of MiceChat revealed that the recorded sound you hear is in the original American Morse Code – an older version that was specifically designed for the telegraph sounder, since it could only sense or hear “open” or “closed.” Later when radio came along, a sound or tonal component was added.
Some others believe that it’s not technically Morse code at all, but something called “landline telegraphy” used to communicate with train dispatchers and other railroad stations.
The telegraph recording you hear today in New Orleans Square is tapping out the first two lines of Walt’s opening day speech, but it used to be an even shorter version. Somewhere around 1997, a Disney guest, who happened to be a radio ham operator, recorded the sound one day and later played it back. He noticed that the recording was off, or wrong, or too short, or not totally correct. The error apparently happened when Disney switched from an older-analog tape system to a newer-digital recording system. That ham radio operator’s name was George L. Eldridge (Call sign N6RVC). And now, thanks to him, the recording is accurate for all to enjoy.
“I called Disneyland and asked to speak with someone about the damaged message. I was afraid that I might get a brush-off, but the Disney staffers were courteous and did their best to locate someone who could help me. When it became clear that no one at Disneyland could help me, they referred me to the WED studios [sic] in Burbank.”
– George Eldridge