This is one of those things that I never knew about before I started this blog, much like the Lilly Belle. The tender seat is a seat directly behind the steam engine.
It's right next to the Fireman in this picture
Like the Lilly Belle, the tender seat is a “hidden” attraction subject to availability. Also like the LB, you approach the cast member at Main Street Station and just ask if you can ride it. Not every locomotive has a tender seat, and most importantly, they don’t run it when it’s hot. Because you’re sitting in front of a boiler and when it gets hot, it gets SERIOUSLY HOT.
The steam engine is 5/8ths scale of a regular steam engine. It runs quite literally on fire:
Dude, that's like ACTUAL fire at the bottom there
The whole engine part is really complex and if you’re not a train nut (like me), the best word to describe it is…
The train is run by two cast members–the fireman, who is in charge of the water levels that drive the steam:
This guy builds and repairs authentic antique steam engines as a hobby. No joke.
…and the engineer:
This guy was a cast member for well over a decade before he moved into this position
Here’s a better look at the tender seat:
And here’s a closeup of the shiny things that make the train go:
The speedometer is up on top. It’s nice to know that they don’t go like 60 miles an hour, although it would be pretty awesome if they went 60 miles per hour.
Let's keep it slow, guys.
And another extremely important instrument is the pressure gauge. There’s something really important and relevant about this little feature, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is, so I’ll just toss up a picture and let you train buffs go at it (and let the others use their imaginations).
Many people looked my way in jealousy. I rubbed it in by taking a picture of all of the people behind me.
Cause I'm nice like that
This part I thought was interesting. There’s little numbers at the station and each train can be a different length. The numbers indicate where to stop so the train aligns with the handicapped platform.
Now that's precision!
Overall the tender seat ride was FABULOUS!!! It’s important to keep in mind that it’s adult-only, and for two people, and very dependent on availability and weather. I ended up waiting about 40 minutes for my ride, but it was totally worth it.