austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Love me, love me, say you love me, just for fun

We picked up from the hotel clerk tickets to Canobie Lake Park. We also picked up the correct pronunciation of ``Canobie''. It's said with stress on the first and last syllables, ``can-o-bee'', like you might pick up at Costco to restock a dwindling hive. The clerk explained ``Obi-Wan does not live here''. We'd been saying it wrong until literally days before our trip when bunny_hugger ran across a mention of how the locals don't say it ``kuh-NO-bee'' after all.

Though the hotel is almost literally down the street from the park --- we were under two miles distant --- we didn't quite get there at opening and it was going to be a busy day. Bright, sunny, early August, a Friday; yeah, we'd be taking in lines. Despite that, when we stepped into the park, we had to sit a bit and just admire it. The park's entrance pavilion reminded me of d'Efteling, stone-clad buildings and gabled roofs and oh so many neat, sharp flags catching the wind. It was beautiful to walk into. And then ---

In the Roller Coaster Tycoon line of games, the concession stands are made to look like relentlessly literal images of what they sell. You get burgers from a giant burger-shaped building, soda from a giant cup with rotating straw, that sort of thing. We took that as just a cute convention that spruces up the appeal of the game at the cost of realism until we visited d'Efteling and some other European parks and saw how, like, an ATM might be tucked into a building shaped like a cartoon wall safe. Still, that's European parks, right? Not something that happens in the United States? And then we saw the popcorn vendor, inside a building shaped like a tall popcorn bag, with red and white and blue stripes and a heap of giant kernels on top. The doughnut shop has a big plaster doughnut poking out the top. At the International Food Court there's a giant cup of fries, a scoops of ice cream, a hot dog with all the toppings standing on top of the building. Just as in the video game. We wondered if the game designers actually did draw inspiration from this park. It seems possible.

Canobie Lake Park opened in 1902 or thereabouts. It has a carousel it dates to ``circa 1903'' according to its sign. The National Carousel Association dates it to 1898, though it can only trace its location to 1906. The carousel's been at Canobie Lake Park since then, though. The sign explains the ride has a mix of animals ``carved by the famous artists: Dentzel, Loof, Stein & Goldstein''. (It's Looff.) It's a handsome ride, and the monts look to be in good shape. It's also a two-level carousel, with the outermost rides on a slightly lower platform from the inner ones. The ride has a plaque to the memory of Harold F Nico (?) of Somerville, Massachusetts, ``who enjoyed many wonderful days with his family at the Antique Carousel''. I don't know the significance of this.

Around the carousel though are several penny movie machines. Most of the movies are short comedies, stuff that gets pies thrown at people, although a few were Tom Mix bits. There were some of the penny machines at other attractions in the park too. Somehow, though, we didn't have any pennies, nor were we able to get any over the day. While we kind of expect they don't work, we don't know that they don't. And they are just sitting out there, ready to take change, at least.

On the path from the Antique Carousel to the Yankee Cannonball, their classic old wooden roller coaster, was an arcade and of course we peeked in. They didn't just have a wall labelled Pinball Alley or a handful of machines. They had a real, serious row of machines, nineteen of them. And all set for a quarter a play. Not just older machines, either, although they had those --- Space Invaders and F-14 Tomcat and Whirlwind, for example, or the early-90s Star Wars. They had current, new machines, the kind that can demand 75 cents or a dollar a play, like AC/DC or Spider-Man. Those were also set to a quarter a play. If this weren't enough we would find three more arcades in the park that had pinball machines, and again, all at a quarter a game. If it weren't for the park admission fee this could be the spot for a pinball league.

They had a pinball I didn't realize existed: Shrek. This is just a reskinned version of Family Guy, new props and names given to the modes and all that. But I gave that a try and found ... you know, the Family Guy table maybe isn't actually that bad a game. It's just the theme I'd found impossibly annoying. Shrek had much less of the annoying modes and sound effects and yes I know what I am saying but, really, that's just how it was. So I had a scarily good game, one of those that won't end. This is surely because we knew that we didn't really have time to just mess around playing pinball all day at the park. Pinball folklore is very clear about how having something more important to do produces the best pinball play. So, yes, I ended up on the high score table, although at the #2 position.

One of the other arcades had just a lone pinball machine, and turned off, but what a machine: it had Hercules, the double-sized game made by Atari about 1980. It's a Brobdingnagian game, marketed at amusement parks. Cedar Point has two of them and they always attract attention, and sometimes even people making it through two balls before losing interest because the game is very slow. Anyway, Canobie Lake Park has another, although it wasn't working that day. That arcade was interesting though since it had a small exhibit of local-fauna taxidermy. I'm not clear why. There is a bit of a ``hunting lodge'' theme near that part of the park, but it kind of seems like someone at some point thought, ``well, we've got a dead raccoon and otter and stuff, maybe we can put them by the 90s X-Men machine?'' The arcade also delighted us by having a huge sign for the Water Bubbler. I've heard of that as a New England synonym for water fountain but this was the first time I'd seen it outside of online Other People Call These Things By This Wrong Name lists.

In yet another arcade, one sitting beside the lake and the boat ride which we slowly learned wasn't running they had the 2013 Star Trek. And with nice open doors and the lovely breeze and the game standing beside the doors, looking out onto the water ... well, it was a magnificent setting. What a great place to be, a beautiful park on a beautiful day. I got to High Score Number 4, although on an older version of the game code.

Trivia: At least five hundred varieties of tulips were grown in the Netherlands by 1633. Source: Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower And The Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash.

Currently Reading: Hacking Matter: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms, Wil McCarthy.

Tags: amusement parks, canobie lake park, new england parks tour
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