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Disneyland Article
Slow Speed Thrills Disneyland Employee Has Driven The Main Street Fire Engine For 32 Years

Tomorrowland Autopia
ID:
TMS-3463
Source:
Orange County Register
Author:
Mark Eades
Dateline:
December 21, 2016
Posted:
January 07, 2017
Status:
Current
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Steve Finley is not a firefighter, but every day he gets to drive a fire engine for work, as he has since 1984.

How does he do it? As an attractions host at Disneyland where five days a week he drives the Fire Engine up and down Main Street U.S.A.

"It's no worse than the freeways. I probably drive faster here then on the freeways," he said.

That speed is five miles an hour, and instead of driving around stalled cars, he drives around people walking in the street - honking the engine's unique horn, while riders clang the bell in the back.

All the while he smiles and waves at everyone, something he enjoys.

"I love it on Main Street, there's always a surprise," he said.

Some of those surprises can be when he's following behind one of the horse-drawn trolleys that share the street: "avoiding the manure."

But surprises come in other forms, such as when he gets to drive celebrities around such as Carol Burnett, Tom Hanks while filming "Saving Mr. Banks," and Dick Van Dyke, who broke out into song on the drive.

"The guests along the street were delighted. Why wouldn't you be? It's Dick Van Dyke," Finley said.

Finley started his Disneyland career in the back of the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant in 1973 as a utility man emptying trash cans, washing dishes and making food.

"My shift ended at 2:30 in the morning; I wasn't too happy about that," he said.

A few years later, Finley transferred to the Attractions division, and worked many of the rides in Tomorrowland including Autopia, Submarine Voyage and Space Mountain.

"It was always hurry, hurry up and I did not really like that pace," he said.

Finley transferred to Main Street and the parking lot in 1984, but never went out into the parking lot as he was first trained on driving the vehicles and has been on the Fire Engine ever since.

When visitors to the park climb aboard his ride, Finley tells them a little history about the engine - that it first appeared at Disneyland in 1958, that it's the same vehicle that Walt Disney used to drive and was designed by Disney Legend Bob Gurr.

If you ask him, he will tell you though he drives it at five miles an hour, it has a top speed of 35 miles an hour - but is not licensed to drive on public streets. He will also tell you that it is powered by compressed natural gas, too, so that it does not pollute the air.

Finley gets a kick out of driving real firefighters, who tease him about the size of his engine, saying they drive a full-sized one. But Finley smiles and tells them his is more fun, then gives them special Disneyland Junior Firefighter stickers and tells them to put them on their helmets.

He also gives the stickers to kids who ride the engine and ring the bell for him.

"Sometimes they ring it hard and loud, but you get used to it."

He gets a special joy out of driving people with serious illnesses - many of whom just want that special trip to Disneyland and a ride in the fire engine.

"Your heart just goes out to them."
 
Attractions Referenced

Horse-Drawn Street Cars

Motorized Fire Truck

Space Mountain

Submarine Voyage

Tomorrowland Autopia

 
Restaurants Referenced

Tomorrowland Terrace

 
Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

Tomorrowland

 
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