Monday, August 6, 2012

Road Trip! Canobie Lake Park

The fourth park on this year's road trip really turned out to be the highlight, I'm quite please to report.  Located in Salem, New Hampshire, Canobie Lake Park first opened way back in 1902 as a trolley park.  While many trolley parks have since closed, some of them have survived the test of time to still operate today, though without the trolleys. 

This is New England's most Affordable Family Fun!
And thank goodness that Canobie Lake Park was one of the ones that survived.  When it was purchased by new owners in 1958 a renewed focus on improving and expanding the property set in, and that in turn has continued for decades and has thus created the park we know today.

And it even has a beautiful entrance!  It was just completed a few years back, and the park did a fantastic job building a modern park entrance with all the bells and whistles, but also the important things like guest relations and potties and turnstiles.  The rustic theme to the area also nicely fits in with the wooded and lakeside setting of the park perfectly.

I think I'm liking what I'm seeing.  Yes, I am.
Once getting through that mob of campers you saw above we turned around to orient ourselves and that's right when I looked down the park's upper midway to the right and realized that Canobie Lake Park is what would be if Kennywood and Knoebels had a baby.  The place is great!  It's totally covered in trees, it has charming and wacky buildings with rides, food, and gift stands intermixed along the way.  There's light theming where appropriate, prices were reasonable, and the staff was friendly.  

With a lot of the crowd getting lost in the park's midways, we quickly shuffled over toward the park's latest thrill machine, named Untamed, in order to cross that one off the list before it poured or something similar.  The roller coaster just opened last season, although the park did such a good job on the station and associated landscaping that the ride looks like it has always been there, though not in any sort of dilapidated way.

The inversions are taken really quickly.
The coaster's station was actually built before the ride even went up, probably because of how much thought and design went into making it look like a cozy cabin in the woods.  Untamed is a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter, one of the "320+" models, of which is there are others in both the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.  The ride has a lift hill that takes the cars up vertically to just over 70 feet in the air, then plunges them down at a steeper than vertical angle.

A wider view of the whole ride.
After a large vertical loop, positioned right alongside the accompanying midway, there's a cut back style inversion, a heartline roll, and a quick helix before hitting the brakes.  The ride's track sits atop supports painted to look like trees, and combined with the quickly growing in foliage under the ride Untamed is really one of the prettier rides I've seen. 

A peaceful area with a thrilling ride.
Canobie Lake Park perfectly mixes rides and scenery, something that a lot of parks try really hard at, but don't quite get right.  Maybe it was just the progression of time as things were added, but there's a charm about the park's layout that I really appreciated.  Above is a peaceful garden area with Starblaster standing behind it, which is a ride that shoots the carriage up the tower not once, but twice.

Munch, munch, munch says the Caterpillar.
Yes, the park is rather pretty but they've also got history.  This is the park's Caterpillar, one of only four Maynes designed Caterpillars left operating.  I've now been on half of those, with the other being at Idlewild Park.  The ride is simple in design, the cars speed around an undulating track, forcing riders to squish into each other as they go.

Gotta love the canopy on the ride!
Thankfully the park has even gone as far as continuing to keep the canopy on the ride, which unfolds over riders once the speed kicks in.  Once covered riders are immersed in a greenish blue light, a place where plenty of smooches have been given in the past, I'm sure. 

Just swingin' along with DaVinci.
While we won't have space here to cover all of the park's various flat rides, many of them are themed in their own way, like DaVinci's Dream, which features Italian gardens flanking the lakeside location of the attraction.  These little details just add to the Canobie experience.  There's other unique items to be found as well, like the Tiki Maze, a classic mirror maze in the center of the park, or the Blue Heron, a 20 minutes boat cruise around Lake Canobie.  There's even an giant Lady Gaga statue meant to advertise the park's impersonators show that's both scary and fantastic at the same time!

Kids will love the Dragon Coaster.
Untamed is actually one of four roller coasters currently calling Canobie Lake home.  Above is the second on our tour, the Dragon Coaster.  Yes, the ride is powered, but I steer clear of "is it or isn't it a coaster" discussions, so for blogging's sake let's say this one is.  The Dragon Coaster is one of the slightly larger versions, featuring not one but two helices.

So pretty, all over.
Honestly, it isn't hard to take photos like this when you're at the park.  Sure, there happens to be a family coaster in the background, but there's also an abundance of flowers, bushes and trees, and even a water fountain thrown in for good measure.  This is really the only way you can see the back of the Dragon Coaster.  Also take note of the Turkish Twist in the background, a spinning ride where the floor drops out as riders are held to the wall by gravity.  Always good fun!

I wanted to cover this park a bit more in depth, so we'll break things into two parts for Canobie.  Watch for the second part soon!


Unknown said...

Canobie Lake is my home park, and it's always fun to see someone else discover it. It's a charming place, and while teenagers in search of the biggest thrills may disparage it, Untamed and the Yankee Cannonball are actually among my favorite coasters.