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Hutch Visits His Home Park - Canobie Lake Park


Well-Known Member
I don’t think I’ve ever done a trip report of Canobie, but that’s probably because I’ve only gone a couple times over the last several years, despite it being the park closest to me. Well this year, I made the effort to return not only once, but twice?!

Ok, so the second visit wasn’t actually the original plan, but here’s some context: I just finished a photography class this summer, and naturally my final project had to be roller coasters. Long story short, I needed to go back and improve some of my shots (also considered going to Lake Compounce, but Boulder Dash was temporarily closed. And SFNE hasn't opened back up). So most of the photos here were taken from the second visit, using a crappy DLSR which is at least a decade old.

Anyway, I can’t remember if Canobie had planned to limit overall guest capacity, but I was surprised to see that the parking lot was about as full as it usually is. I’ve never seen the park too slammed, but it always gets a pretty solid turnout, and this was no different.

Security and entrance faff was a breeze. Won’t go into too much detail, but you can expect the typical temperature check and easy security. Staff did a great job managing crowds/lines leading up to entry as well. Good first impression of their Covid procedures.

Yankee Cannonball
So, I’ve never seen this ride have anything less than a 20 minute wait. Now if anything, that’s a good thing as it shows you how much people care about this ride. At any other park, this would be neglected and be a walk-on. The thing with Canobie though, is that this is still the clear star attraction for the park. It’s the first thing guests see when entering the parking lot, plus the park lacks another crowd-pleasure coaster to alleviate Cannonball’s queue. Plus, it's actually a good ride.

Pre-covid times, you already had one train operations for this ride. And it’s a short train to begin with: three trains of 6 rides each (so similar to Skyrocket II throughput). But with social distancing in the trains, you’re getting a maximum of 10 riders every dispatch.

My first visit, the queue for Cannonball took about 60 minutes! In addition to the low capacity, operations didn’t help either. You’d think with less people/restraints to check, dispatches would be quicker, but I apparently not. They were getting upwards to 5 minute dispatches (so you’re getting about 120 people an hour).

On my second visit, they did a MUCH better job, shaving dispatches down to every 3 minutes or so. I was able to get a couple rides with waits about 25 min each.

But how was the ride??

I like to think that this was my first ever roller coaster. My first ride must’ve been when I was around 6 or 7 (imagine if I knew what I would get myself into then). Because of the nostalgia, I probably rate Cannonball higher than the average goon. But I mean this when I say it: this coaster rides better than most coasters I’ve done, and it just turned 90 years old!

It really is one of the smoother woodies out there. Of course, it helps that you the endangered buzz bars, so it's not as restrictive as other woodies. And with the staff not bothering to check seatbelts, you can keep them as loose as you want. I will say the airtime isn’t great, but you get some solid pops of air and some nice floater going up the turnarounds (similar to going up the turnarounds on Phoenix). Because of that, I realized front row is actually the better place to be.

But seriously, no complaints here. Brought a smile to my face. Crazy to think this only hits 35 mph.

This was actually the first coaster where I loosely followed its construction, back when I was a young goon. At the time, I thought it was impressive for a little park like Canobie to get an intense ride like this (and still pretty impressive when you consider the below-the-tree-line height limits).

However, over the years I realized it’s not all that great. That being said, they’ve done a nice job with the area. When it comes to the stock Eurofighter clone, the theming can’t get much better than this.

Limited capacity on small trains like this meant that they only allow one group to ride at a time. So for all you goons traveling solo, enjoy the zen rides while they last. However, the queue wasn’t too bad. With two trains running, incredibly short ride cycle, and quick dispatches, it all worked out fine. The queue took about 20 minutes on both of my visits.

The drop is probably better than I give credit for. But by the time I reach to top of the lift hill I get distracted by remembering “Ah crap, forgot this was a Gerstlauer.”

The drop and loop are actually fine, but things start to fall apart afterward. The entry of the cutback has a pretty bad jolt, and the rest of the ride is a rattly mess. Nothing super painful, but just really awkward.

This transition into the helix is actually the most violent part of the ride. And certainly not in a good way.

Yeah, the ride is kinda ass, but still worth riding considering the park’s coaster lineup.

At least it looks really nice? I didn’t realize how many tress they squeezed in until going through these photos.

Sky Ride
I wish this was a little longer, it only spans about a third of the length. But still decent for what it is.

Did this on my first visit, so you’ll see in these photos that the weather was a bit nicer.

DaVinci’s Dream
I hadn’t done one of these traditional chair swings (if we exclude the big boy Star Flyers and Windseekers) in several years. Think the last time I did one of these was the one at the Navy Pier in Chicago, almost a decade ago.

I kinda loved this. It was super nice and relaxing, and the tilting system provides some gentle, variation of forces. And it’s in the perfect location too, right by the lake.

Definitely one of those type of rides that we enthusiasts take for granted. For a park like Canobie, this will be something I’ll try to ride every time I visit (and yes, I did ride on both of these visits).

Canobie Express
This is a rather small mini-rail, but it travels right up against the edge of the coast, providing some good views of the lake.

Giant Sky Wheel
I mean, it’s a Ferris wheel. Not much to say. :p

Canobie Corkscrew
This is one of those old Arrow double corkscrew models, and I think it was one of the first models ever built. It opened in ’75 at Old Chicago (shortly after the one at Knott’s), before being relocated a couple times: once to Alabama State Fairgrounds, and again to Canobie Lake.

It took about 10 minutes to get on. Even with one train ops and limited capacity, it can still take more peeps than the other creds in the park.

At any other park, Corkscrew would be a plus-one-and-done. However, I still try to ride this whenever I visit Canobie.

Who am I kidding. It’s a piece of ****. Why do I even bother?

Star Blaster
This was closed for maintenance on my first visit, but luckily they got it open for my second visit, which is good as it’s actually one of the more thrilling rides in the park. It’s one of the junior S&S shot towers, but it’s actually pretty good. You get two solid moments of ejector air at the top.

Other stuff:

Their flying scooters ride was in shambles on my first visit, but back open by the second visit. Don’t get too excited, the rudder on each gondola has a chain attached, limiting how much you can rotate.

That was about all the rides I did. It was kinda annoying that I needed to visit a second time to get better photos, but I had a nice time each visit. If anything, it was nice to finally be back at a theme park, after a bunch of my other plans this season fell through.

Canobie did a good job with the Covid restrictions as well, and I’m definitely glad I chose this park as my first “Coasters in Covid” visit as opposed to others. Staff took things seriously while still trying to make guests feel welcome. Social distancing and face coverings were enforced, which more parks need to do. For example, Yankee Cannonball would also have someone patrolling the queue, reminding people when necessary to adjust facemasks over their noses and asking people to give others space. You're allowed to remove your mask while on the rides, but I kept mine as it's really no issue to me. Other staff members would patrol around the park with hand sanitizer, including someone rolling around with a megaphone in this sweet ride:

Think this was ripped straight out of their Antique Cars.

And yeah, hand sanitizer. Almost every ride had stations placed at the end of a queue and at the exit. Every now and then one would be empty (or there wouldn’t be one at all), but I had my own so it wasn’t a huge deal. And while I didn’t see staff cleaning rides on my first visit, they definitely were on my second visit.

Another change I saw on my second visits were the smaller kiddy rides and arcade games opening up, with staff running arcade games armed with face shields on top of their masks. Their water park area/playground was also open, but I’ll be staying clear of those for a while (no slides open yet though).

But yeah, the park did a good job with their Covid policy. Honestly, the thing to be concerned about the most (and this will likely be the case with other parks) are the guests themselves. I’d say about 80-90% of people were wearing their masks properly, while others would leave their noses exposed or not making an effort to social distance. Luckily, staff were around to enforce things, but some people would just lower their masks again when staff weren’t looking. The people that weren’t properly following guidelines were mainly kids/teenagers.

Despite having a weak ride selection (really Yankee Cannonball is the only worthwhile ride), I am glad that Canobie Lake is my home park. If this park were located much further away from me, I’d get the creds, leave, and not think much of it. But since I’m close by and able to visit as often as I want, I get to try and appreciate some of the other rides we often overlook (the chair swing is a great example). The park is also super pretty, with solid themed areas and lots of big trees.

It’s still in dire need of another coaster, and a good one at that. I think the only option they have is a Gravity Group woodie if you want something under the tree line, although maybe they could get some sort of spinner as well. Hopefully they don’t get something lame like an SPF spinner or a wild mouse.


Slut for Spinners
Your report allowed me to fondly remember my visit two summers ago! You said it well, Canobie's coaster lineup may be something to be desired, but it's a beautiful park with all the small park details that you love to see when you notice them (like Untamed's supports getting painted like Aspen trees).