If 2020 hasn’t provided enough ups-and-downs for you, how about a thrilling roller-coaster ride to smooth the nerves? A midyear cannonball run probably has less tumult than the maelstrom we currently ride.
The folks at Canobie Lake Park have been cleared by the state of New Hampshire to reopen their doors and welcome adventure-seekers back into the 65-acre sprawl in Salem.
Scheduled to be back on track Thursday, July 16, the park’s three roller-coasters will click, clack and coast again while still complying with social-distancing policies.
The reopening, of course, comes with caveats and restrictions that did not formerly apply to the region’s oldest and largest amusement park. Foremost among the new procedures is ticketing. Visitors now must make reservations online before tickets can be issued. This helps keep the crowd at the recommended 25% capacity, as mandated by the state’s directives.
While reserving tickets, visitors will be asked to watch a short video that outlines the safety guidelines set forth by the state, augmented by local ordinances.
Upon arrival, a short health screening by qualified EMTs is required.
“The state and local officials have been very supportive of our reopening,” says Chris Nicoli, brand manager for Canoble Lake Park. “So long as we do it safely.”
Even the arrival hours will be staggered so as not to have lines of people queued up waiting for entry.
“The tickets are still good for the entire day,” he says. “But some will be asked to arrive at, for example, 10 a.m., while another group will be scheduled for 10:30.”
Once inside the gates, the fun begins. Nearly all of the park’s dozen of booths, rides, attractions and food shops will be open as normal.
The central feature is still the Yankee Cannonball, thought to be New England’s oldest roller-coaster. Assembled in 1936, the wooden structure carries steel rails, which, in turn, carry seating cars that will now be half-filled with thrill-seekers.
“The good part of limited capacity at the park is that the wait lines for rides will be very short.” Nicoli says, emphasizing the need to practice social distancing whenever possible.
The Cannonball is one of three roller-coaster rides (Untamed and Corkscrew are the others) and just one of more than two dozen rides scattered throughout the park, all of which will be open to the public, including the popular water slides.
In fact, the only thing that will remain shuttered is the performance venue, which, in normal times, would feature concerts and shows, but indoor crowding, as such a show would create, is still a closely regulated area of concern by health officials.
Familiar staples, like the gondola and Ferris wheel, which, by nature of their operation, provide physical distance, allow for a more relaxed type of enjoyment while offering views of the adjoining Canobie Lake and cityscape.
Because of the limitations, school field trips and corporate outings will be shelved for now.But, as Nicoli says, “it can still be a rite of passage for teenagers and young adults as it has been for decades.”
He iterated, too, that reserving tickets does not demand a certain and finite day of visit.“If you can’t make it due to weather or other things, the reservations are good for another day.”
And for those who have promotional coupons or other passes that expire in 2020, they can use them next year.
The expiration date on most printed offerings is extended to 2021.
The park’s motto — “Just For Fun” — will not be silenced.
First dates and family outings are still available as an escape from the cultural roller-coaster we are strapped into. A smile beneath the mask.