As a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder who lives nowhere near Orlando, my “home park” is far from the Magic Kingdom. The closest amusement park to me is Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire, and it’s somewhere that I try to visit at least once a year.
This year’s trip was Josh’s first time going, and we ended up heading into the park on a day that it was packed with crowds. (I blame the New England weather this summer, nearly all of June and most of July rained every single weekend, and on the first Saturday when the sun finally came out we, and I guess most people, took advantage of the opportunity and headed to Canobie Lake Park.)
Since I’ve been to Canobie Lake Park several times, and since Josh isn’t really a huge ride person, the crowds didn’t really bother us. We basically just enjoyed a really low-key visit to the park and will plan to visit another day to do more of the rides (no need to wait in long lines if we live closeby!)
As for how we actually spent the day, the ambiance of Canobie Lake really is something that stands out to me as far as local amusement parks go. This park has lots of attractions, shows, and games, and all of this combined with the overall vibe of a local, historic park, and some classic eats make Canobie a fun place to hang out even if you don’t get on a ton of rides.
We spent a lot of time at the Pinball Parlor, where I learned Josh is apparently insanely talented at pinball (and I am not.) The only machine here that gave him a major challenge was the Wizard of Oz one, and I think he was doing so well at the Ms. Pacman pinball machine that we ended up leaving credits on the table to check out the rest of the park. If you’re a pinball fan, this is one stop you have to make at Canobie Lake as the selection of machines here is really impressive, and you can easily spend lots of time playing them.
The Aim High Canines show wasn’t even on our radar before we arrived, but the timing worked out perfectly for us to see it so we grabbed a seat in the theater to watch, because doggos. This show is so much fun as a full lineup of rescue dogs perform tricks for the crowd.
After the show we grabbed some lunch at Smokin’ BBQ, and it was delicious. It’s a quick-service-style stand with a smoker out in the middle of the park, and the smell drew us right over. Josh got chicken with a couple of sides and I went for the burnt ends nachos (plus Summer Ale), and it was all delicious. Our favorite thing here was easily the mac and cheese, and next time I go to the park I think I’ll be stopping here just to grab a side of it.
While we didn’t get on a ton of rides, we did take a spin on the Antique Carousel, one of my favorite attractions at Canobie Lake. This carousel was originally built in 1903 (just one year after the park opened, though it’s been at Canobie since 1906). It also features a 1922 Wurlitzer Duplex Orchestral Organ, and if you’re a dork about old amusement park attractions like I am, it’s definitely something you need to stop and see while at Canobie. (The Yankee Cannonball, the park’s wooden roller coaster built in 1936 would be the other must-see though we didn’t get to it during this trip as the line was super long.)
We spent the rest of this trip really just walking around (and snacking, we also stopped for fried dough) and checking out the gift shops as I really wanted to find a Canobie Lake t-shirt to take home (and I did find one, but I didn’t buy the magnet of the park’s iconic Roller Coaster Tycoon-style popcorn stand, so that’s on my list for next time!)
We’ll do more of the rides and whatnot next time (maybe for SCREEEMFEST since I’ve never been), but for such a short trip, we really did have an amazing time and I already can’t wait to go back! If I’m still living in New England for the park’s next season, I will probably even get a season pass so it’s easy to come spend time in the park on my days off.