GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 26, 2013

Canobie Lake Park prepares for opening

Canobie Lake Park reviews security, checks rides

By Doug Ireland
Staff Writer

---- — SALEM, N.H. — After 111 years, some things never change at Canobie Lake Park.

When the park opens for the season Saturday, there will be the usual excitement and smell of popcorn in the air.

After the attacks last week at the Boston Marathon, Canobie spokesman Chris Nicoli said park officials are taking a closer look at security procedures to protect the thousands of guests expected to visit the park this year.

“Safety and security is of foremost importance,” he said. “We have numerous security (officers) at the park.”

Park personnel typically review security procedures at the start of each season, he said. But Nicoli said there is heightened awareness after three people were killed and approximately 180 injured near the marathon finish line April 15.

Nicoli said the security review is still taking place. Regardless, he said, he could not release any security details.

“As far as security, it might be something people don’t even notice,” he said.

Deputy Chief Shawn Patten said the Salem, N.H., Police Department conducts regular security reviews at Canobie and provides police details at the park to keep the public safe.

Security at the park was reviewed over the winter and after the attacks last week, he said.

Canobie “will remain an exciting, safe place to bring your family,” Patten said. “They have a good park security plan in place.”

Nicoli did say the park may increase its searches of bags, backpacks and other personal belongings.

Otherwise, Nicoli said, customers shouldn’t expect any major changes.

There is one change, the park’s newest attraction — The Equinox.

Introduced in October, just five days before the season ended, most Canobie regulars haven’t had the chance to test their nerves — or their stomachs — on the ride.

The attraction, which was purchased in London, features three large mechanical arms that lift riders 75 feet into the sky as they spin and swing. It’s just one of the park’s more than 85 rides and the newest since the arrival of the popular roller coaster, Untamed, two years ago.

The park is introducing The Canobie Institute, which provides approximately 15 educational programs for school groups. It features real-world projects, physics and science experiments, and live presentations to complement what they learn in the classroom.

Another addition to the park this year more parking — an extra 350 parking spaces, increasing the total to 2,577.

The additional parking reduces the park’s reliance on shuttle buses to transport guests to and from a large off-site parking area, Nicoli said. Canobie also has been working to improve traffic flow outside the park.

As the park’s website counts down the hours, days, minutes and seconds before Canobie opens, Nicoli said there is the usual last-minute scramble to make sure every thing is in working order.

Earlier this week, workers were making sure the Equinox was ready to go. Artist Sheryl Chatterton was busy painting a large beach mural.

The park’s approximately 1,000 employees have been undergoing training over the past month to make sure they’re ready to go Saturday, Nicoli said.

Canobie will offer its annual opening day special, offering one-day passes for $27.

The park is open on weekends only until May 23, when it begins daily operation.

Doug Ireland may be contacted at direland@gloucestertimes.com.