Weather: Hot, but comfortable
After a pleasant (but long) drive from Johnstown NY in the foot hills of the Adirondacks, through the mountains of Vermont and then down the interstates through New Hampshire, we arrived at Canobie Lake Park in Salem NH around 4 in the afternoon. We must have been living right, because again we found a parking spot very near the entrance to the park. Paying our admission and getting our hand stamps (in what looked to be sky blue house paint), we did our normal routine of checking the map to see just where we were and were we wanted to go.
Like being directed by a homing beacon, my eyes zeroed in on something on the map on the far side of the park… Mine of Lost Souls. Sounded like a dark ride to me, so that was our first destination. Upon entering the park and as we walked toward the Mine, we were impressed on how neat and clean the park looked. The line for the Mine looked a bit lengthy, but it appeared to be moving. Nice thing is… much of it is shaded. As we waited, we looked around at the theming. Theming is not essential to me, but I do appreciate good theming. The way the outside of the Mine was themed impressed me. Not as elaborate (and overdone?) as Universal IOA standards, but very good for a smaller park. As we waited we read the “story” of the two local boys that disappeared into the mine. When we climbed aboard our mine car, we noted how good of a condition it was in. The Mine itself, while fun (after all, it is a dark ride… they rank right up there with coasters for me), was a bit of a let down. The stunts looked great and all worked… appeared to be relatively new. But nothing was very scary in there… no real “surprises” that jump out and startle you either… and it was not all that dark for a dark ride. Biggest mystery… how did that ancient Egyptian tomb get into a mine in New Hampshire?
Anyway, back tracking to the center part of the park, we got in line for the Policy Pond Log Flume. Again, quite impressed with the theming of station and queue. I like flumes that run at ground level, not elevated, and this one did just that. There were some places where the logs were moving pretty fast. Nothing spectacular, but an average to above average flume.
Rockin’ Rider was next on the agenda. Your typical Galaxy model steel coaster. This one, like most, runs single cars. The two drops are fun, and he helices are fast. Unlike some I have encountered, this one is not overly breaked. Even the dark red and rather drab paint job on this coaster looked good.
Canobie Corkscrew was up next. This is a very pretty and well maintained coaster. There was a small wait for this, but I was waiting for a front seat, so some of the other seats would have been walk-ons. There was a woman and little girl in line and I over heard her her talking to a man behind her about this “old coaster in Pennsylvania at a park called Knoebels which is one of the best around”. She and I struck up a conversation about Knoebels Phoenix and Twister as we waited. It was then time to board and I climbed into the front seat and dropped the OTSR over me. Don’t ask me why, but I did not put my head back against the head rest and for the first time ever I came off of a corkscrew coaster with out the beginnings of a headache. Not sure if it was because of the position of my head and neck or if the Canobie Corkscrew is so much smoother than most of this type… but for what ever reason, it was probably the best Corkscrew ride I have experienced.
I was going to hop a ride on Canobie’s Flyers (or Roosters as they call them) but decided against it when I saw the chains attached to the Sail that kept movement to a minimum.
Having not eaten since 9am that morning (it was now around 5pm)… and then having only eaten a Pop-Tart each, Chele and I decided it was time for dinner. We looked at the map and the menus of different eating places in the park. We were going to stop at a place called the Trellis , but we decided we liked the food selection at The Sons of Liberty Tavern better. This is located in the area of the park near the lake of which the centerpiece is the Boston Tea Party shoot the chutes ride. The entire area was quite quaint and again was very well themed to look like a colonial town. The inside of the Sons of Liberty was no exception… nice wooden benches, tables, etc with “candle” (though electric) lamps. For an amusement park it was a very good recreation of a colonial tavern (though the local historical society would have some issues). Then came something we were not at all expecting. Very good food and even better service! Having not eaten all day, we were both pretty hungry. I got some sort of Sampler (2 chicken strips, 2 buffalo chicken strips, 2 mozzarella sticks all on a bed of waffle fries) and Michele got 4 chicken strips and sharing some of my fries. Bowing to impulse, we each ordered some New England clam chowder. It was all very good by any standards (out right extraordinary for “park food”). We also each had a Pepsi. Being a hot day, we finished those Pepsi’s very quickly and ordered two more. We were later surprised to see that these refills were free (again, standard for most restaurants, unheard of at most parks). Add to this the fact that the waitress (sorry I can’t mention her by name, but I did not get a chance to read her name tag) was very good, friendly, polite and efficient. We were in a state of total shock from all of this compared to experiences at other parks. The price wasn’t too bad either, considering that a) we were at a park and b) it did include Clam Chowder in addition to the other items.
The Menu’s specifically stated “No Tipping Required”. I did inquire about this. The waitress smiled and said “It’s not required… its up to the customer.” I said okay and then told her that this was some of the best park food we have ever had and certainly the best park service we have experienced. Since it was optional, I opted to leave a tip. I normally opt to leave the traditional 15%, but in this case I opted for 20%. Michele said that she looked over her shoulder as we left the restaurant and saw the waitress unfold the tip with a look of surprise. She said a smile then came over her face and she looked after us and gave Michele a little wave.
Tired from driving all day, Michele did not feel like standing in line for Yankee Cannonball, so she found a bench next to the Bozo (the Clown) Show while I got in line for the coaster. I timed the line… 40 minutes… the longest of the day. They were only running 1 train, and it was only a 3 car train that seated 18 people. The only disappointment with this coaster… you can’t select your seat. They only leave 18 people in the station at a time and it is first in = first choice. No biggie… on a train this short, the middle car happens to be both the second from the front and the second from the back. I rode the Cannonball 3 times… twice near the front and once in the last seat. What a great little coaster. A classic out and back, there is air on almost every hill. Then again… look who designed it. Another Schmeck masterpiece.
Between rides, I did make a stop by the one food stand to try a “deep fried twinkie”. Knowing how good deep fried Oreo’s are, I was curious about this. I had one bite, Michele had one bite, and the trash can had the rest. Twinkies are nasty little things to begin with, and deep frying them in a funnel cake like dough doesn’t make them any better.
While waiting for me on the Cannonball, Michele talked to one of the employees working near by. Michele described her as “a little old lady” who was picking up litter on the midway. In the course of their conversation the “little old lady” said “I just love coming here and working a few nights a week.” While not said (and perhaps not to this much degree), this attitude was evident in the actions of most of the employees that we encountered. It’s a shame that some of the other, larger parks out there can not instill this level of pride in their employees.
After my third ride on the Cannonball, we decided that we should be on our way. We wanted to be in the Portsmouth NH / York ME area for the night and that meant we had about an hour drive ahead of us. We also had to find a hotel for the night. On our way out of the park we did stop at “Guest Services”. The man at the window opened the glass when we approached. “Just wanted to say that we really enjoyed your park and we had a great time,” we said. With a look of relief (I imagine complaints out number compliments at guest services), he smiled and thanked us.
Overall we found Canobie Lake to be a very nice park. It is kept in very good shape and the mature trees give plenty of shade. The rides and buildings appear to be maintained very well. The one section of the park, the section around the carrousel and the midway leading toward Yankee Cannonball, looks like something out of the past with its very traditional amusement park design. The landscaping is very well done and the areas that are themed are themed well for a park this size. The employees seem efficient and friendly enough (the girl at the Sons of Liberty) and also conscientious of their little park (the “little old lady” Michele spoke to).
Next time we are in New England, this is one park that we would return to. I only have one question… how do you pronounce the name? Can-OH-bee (sounding very much like Obi Wan KENOBI) or CAN-oh-bee (rhymes with Canopy)? I always thought it was the first way… but according to Bozo the Clown, it’s the latter.
Half of the people surveyed agree, half disagree and another half are unsure.
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 8/29/2003 10:08:46 AM ***
Wow, this was the first park I ever visited with the Yankee Cannonball being my first "real" roller coaster. Your trip report was not only very well written, but very nostalgic for me personally.
I've spent so many years going to SFNE that I almost forgot what small park service is like. But as CLP is still very popular with my younger family members, I'm glad to see that while the rides are somewhat outdated for the coaster enthusiast, the park still retains its "magic" for families and younger folks.
Thanks for writing about it - you've made me really want to visit again next year for the first time in 5 years. And i'm sure I won't be dissapointed.
S:ROS; SFNE. Ride it, and you'll understand.
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