Canobie Lake Park
Ah Canobie Lake Park, God's gift to this green Earth. There is no better amusement park out there. Suck it Millennium Force and bow down to the mighty Yankee Cannonball. Yes there are Canobie Lake Park fanboys out there that are as rowdy as the craziest Cedar Point fanboys. I too love Canobie (I mean look at my screen name), but I don't quite think I'm in that boat. I'm in the life raft behind them.
It was the perfect summer day. All morning I saw drops of raining falling from the rooftop of my office building and the temperature was borderline sweatshirt weather. By the afternoon, the rainfall had stopped and the sun was fighting to come out, but was blocked by a sky full of clouds. You know what that means? The perfect day to visit an amusement park. Rather I should say evening, as I took advantage of the twilight special. The cruddy morning forecast kept the crowds away and gave me free reign of the park in comfortable 60 degree weather.
Naturally my visit began at the Yankee Cannonball. Usually the park's star attraction boasts a full queue and a half hour wait, but today it was only about a 2-3 train wait all day. Because of the short trains, a few steep drops and buzz bars, the back seat is the money seat. This is a fact that's a shared consensus among many park-goers and Canobie doesn't allow you to wait for seats. They basically load you up in a caged pen (be sure to watch your head on the giant angled wooden beam) and release the pack of animals into the tiny little station. The first two riders grab the front row 95% of the time and then it's like the Purge for the rest of the seats. The second and third from the back are pretty good, but the back is dramatically better.
Despite being almost 90 years old, the Yankee Cannonball is glass smooth. The most recent retracking unfortunately took away a chunk of the ride's airtime, but there's still a hearty dose of it. The first drop gives glorious ejector air in the backseat. The drops off the 90 degree turns also provide good air as well. Many of the ride's smaller hills don't offer airtime like they used to. I'd attribute that to the cooler summer day, but the ride wasn't giving air over these hills last year when it was 90 degrees and muggy. It's a short coaster and only has about 2000 feet of track, but the ride feels like a journey since it takes you outside of the park and runs along the parking lot. Still the park's best attraction after all these years. 7.5 out of 10
Canobie's newest still operating attraction (I'll get back to this sore spot later) is just around the corner, Untamed. It's still amazing just how well themed this Eurofighter is. The adorable bear cars, birch tree painted supports, and ski-lodge esque station really make the ride feel unique. But they cannot compensate for the OSTRs. Hydrus has a similar layout, but it's a far superior ride thanks to the lap bars. The transitions on Untamed are pretty choppy if you don't brace for them, but the first drop and zero-G roll are still excellent. 7 out of 10
The Canobie Corkscrew's removal was a popular rumor a few years back, but those whispers died once the park repainted the attraction in a striking electric blue. Also I think the trains received a nice new paint job this year. Either that or I was oblivious the past few years. Yes it's a simple corkscrew, but this coaster does a lot less screwing than the other ones I've been on. The trains are roomy (a problem on a lot of older Arrows) and the ride is mostly free of headbanging. It's still lasts as long as a fat kid's bag of Oreo's, but what's there is enjoyable. The pop of the air in the back row is more enjoyable when you don't take sucker punches to the head afterwards. 6 out of 10
This is the part of the trip report where I usually shamelessly ride the kiddie coaster. Sorry to disappoint you, but I got the credit when it was socially acceptable for me to ride the coaster.
Canobie's coaster collection is decent, but the rest of the park is where Canobie separates themselves from the pack. Their flume is one of the best anywhere. It has a fantastic setting, blending in with the wooded area of the park, along with two solid drops. Despite the cooler weather, I got a few rides in. That included the last ride of the night when the park closed the attraction early at 8:30. Same great ride as always except after passing through the tepee tunnel, I learned first hand about a new addition, water sprayers. I've never seen these on a flume before the final drop, so they completely caught me off-guard.
Oddly enough, while Canobie closed the flume early, they kept their well-themed shoot the chutes ride (Boston Tea Party) open later. Not sure who wanted to get drenched that late at night, but whatever floats your boat. I didn't want to be soaked to the bone, yet I inexplicably rode Timber Splash, their wet/dry slide that's far more wet than dry. I forgot how evil those last two turns were. Still it was dryer at the Boston Tea Party.
They also have a charming old dark ride in the Mine of Lost Souls. All of the ride's practical effects are well-executed. I particularly love the mine scene at the beginning. The Egyptian portion at the end is a big WTF, but who doesn't love the grim reaper? If you're confused, you haven't been on Mine of Lost Souls. If you are confused, you've been on Mine of Lost Souls like me. How you are magically transported from a mine to Egypt and then hell beats me, but it's a must in any visit to Canobie.
Canobie also has a very strong flat ride collection. They have plenty of older flats. Their most noteworthy flat is the Caterpillar. With Idlewild and DelGrosso's closing their Caterpillars, I think Canobie has the last remaining version of this classic flat. And best of all, it's impeccably maintained with a still operating canopy. Eric Carle would be proud.
The history of their classic attractions is something Canobie genuinely cares about if it wasn't already evident by their Caterpillar. On several of their rides, the park has signs detailing the history of the ride. For example, the Rowdy Roosters flying scooters (sadly not snappable in case you were wondering) has a sign explaining how the vehicles until 2010 were actual drop pods used in WWII. Definitely a cool factoid. The Yankee Cannonball, Corkscrew, Flume, and a few others also have signs giving the GP the knowledge coaster enthusiasts like to waggle over their heads. Talk about leveling the playing field
On the wilder side, the park has a decent S&S double shot in Star Blaster. Unfortunately, the park's height limit takes away what could be a spectacular view of the lake, but Star Blaster makes up for it with some solid air. But the most thrilling flat is the Turkish Twist. I'm happy enough to see a park with an operating rotor (a real one, not one of those gravitrons), but Canobie runs their's ridiculously fast. The stench of puke in the drum probably doesn't help, but this has to be a candidate for the ride that causes the most guests to puke in any park. Right before my ride, they had to end the cycle prematurely to let someone off. He thankfully held it in long enough to get off the ride, but he didn't quite make it to the trash bucket before he unloaded on the poor asphalt.
For a still thrilling but less nauseating spinner, there's the Psycho Drome indoor scrambler. I'm glad the park restored the light show that they removed for a few years since it takes what's a normally mundane and skippable ride and turns it into a must.
One of their other marquee attractions, the Xtreme Frisbee, has been down for almost a year at this point. The ride was actually removed from the park map and the website. Hopefully the ride isn't going the way of Equinox, but the ride did seem to have way more downtime than your average Huss frisbee. I mean even Six Flags has those rides running consistently. I'm hoping they can have the ride back up and running next year since it's definitely one of the park's most popular rides. Funny how a forgettable flat at a Six Flags park can turn into a star attraction at a family park.
Canobie also has a thousand arcades it seems. Their biggest arcade is near the front of the park, but they also have a noteworthy pinball parlor over by Untamed. Just how noteworthy is it? The direction signs in the park actually guide you towards "Pinball." But seriously if you love pinball, their parlor is a mecca for you. They have almost 20 different machines in there ranging from the newest versions to old classics.
I ended my night with ride after ride on the Yankee Cannonball. The Yankee Cannonball can be a tricky one to get a night ride on since Canobie often closes the line a half hour prior to closing, but not tonight. With waits less than 10-15 minutes all day, I was able to set a personal best for rides on the coaster in a day with 11. The waits were quick anyway, but they felt even quicker since I was able to catch their Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga show which is conveniently located on a stage across from the Yankee Cannonball's queue line. The imitators were actually pretty good, but the real star was the Yankee Cannonball. My last ride of the night was in the very back row.
Time to address the elephant in the room. Outside of the summer when I was in California, I've been to Canobie very single year. What can I say? I drink the Canobie Kool-Aid. However, I will say that the park's recent moves, or lack of moves, has been a disturbing trend. Canobie used to add a new ride every year. They weren't adding coasters to the point they went bankrupt like Six Flags, but it was nice to visit the park and find Star Blaster or even something as small as Wave Blaster. It always made the visit exciting.
The park's last addition was Equinox (late 2012), which was an unmitigated disaster. The ride was intense, but I consider myself lucky to have ridden it considering it broke down more than Lightning Rod and was removed after 1 year. No new rides in 5 years. Only increases in admission, the removal of the Tiki Maze, and a cancelled river rapids ride. The latter was an addition I was really looking forward to, but the park was spooked by the Dreamworld accident and cancelled those plans. Judging by how expensive a river rapids ride would be, I'm hopefully the park has been saving up for a big new addition.
There were some encouraging signs on that front and I hope I'm not just being an overly optimistic Canobie fan. There was a pretty substantial clearing with survey markers next to Corkscrew and Castaway Island. Since the latter is usually at capacity on hot summer days, I'm hoping the park expands to add a full-fledged water park like what Quassy has done. Selfishly I'd love a big new coaster, but I think a water park is the smarter long term move. A water park is the major advantage every other park in the area has over Canobie and this would rectify that issue. The park also had a construction fence up in Equinox's old pad, so I'm guessing a flat ride could be coming soon.
I may make it to Canobie again later this summer considering it's just a 10 minute drive from my office. I would definitely go more except it's one of the rare parks that doesn't offer a season pass, a fact that is almost as painful as the park's lack of activity on the new ride front.