Screemfest 2013 has taken over Canobie Lake Park. If you love spooky, scary things and have a dark sense of humor, this is the place for you. A small group of us went on the first night of Screeemfest (9/27) and had an awesome time. We picked up coupons at McDonald's knocking $4 off admission, paying $26.99 each. Waiting just beyond the ticket booths were all kinds of monsters - they don't let you get by without a good scare. You can buy a flashing necklace that keeps the monsters away, but for $26.99, we wanted the full experience. The monsters keep to their area, but it's a matter of getting by them. There was a huge green monster, a ghoul with eyes in his hands, an axe-wielding Skeletor-type dude, some incredibly spooky girls (one looks a bit like Wednesday Addams and another is deathly white, bald and bloody) and a classy Dracula. Some of the monsters are really creepy. A zombie/ghoul dude in red pants stared at us as we walked by, then suddenly ran right up behind us (scared the you-know-what out of us!). The monsters don't touch you (and you don't touch them). But they'll appear at your side as you're walking along and well, it's just plain creepy.
Okay, let's talk about the haunts... there are 5 major spooky attractions and they're all different, so do them all. "Virus" is new this year. You enter a biocontainment facility riddled with the infected. It's pretty scary, but I'm guessing the park could do more to make it really, really frightening. "Merriment" is all about scary clowns. The clown guy at the entrance gave the spookiest maniacal clown laugh ever. Plenty of jump scares and if clowns make you uncomfortable, this will do you in. "The Dead Shed" is filled with sounds of butchering, plenty of blood, and lots of scares. We saw people screaming and running out of The Dead Shed. Seriously. We loved "Cannibal Island." Look for the volcano as the entrance. Tiki drums and lots of fog. Lots and lots of fog. And some very terrifying things waiting for you. As their meal. It was great. Our favorite was "The Village." It's a bloodcurdling maze of hay bales and cornstalks. Doesn't sound very scary, you say? Things come out of the hay bales and cornstalks at you. You never see them until they are right there! And gas-powered chainsaws... that's all I'm saying. It's very intense. Again, no one touches you, nothing's going to hurt you, but you have to get through the maze, and it's terrifying.
There are 2 shows on the midway stage that alternate every hour. There's an awesome AC/DC tribute band called Bonfire. They rock - catch them when they play. There's also a sword swallower who looked great and some talented dancers. Unfortunately, we only caught a small part of this show. Don't miss the park's monster parade at 7:30. They make a circuit of the park. Watch for the Ghostbusters guys and their car. The monsters and the Ghostbusters guys are awesome about taking photos of them. There's an Oktoberfest tent by the Midway Stage and I wish like anything we'd had time to hang out and have a beer and a pretzel or a grilled sausage. We were there from opening 'til close (11pm) and we chose to hit rides a second time rather than experience what looked like really tasty Oktoberfest brews and eats. But the ride lines were really short... how can you resist?
A couple of downsides: the haunts don't open until it's dark. We got to the park when it opened at 6pm. It will get dark earlier as Halloween approaches, but we had to wait a little while until we could go into the first haunt. So hit the rides until it gets dark. (I suggest Untamed -- soooo awesomely fun). This was our first time going to Canobie Lake Park so another downside for us was not knowing the park. I kept getting turned around and my sense of direction stinks. Get a park map first thing at Guest Services. Trust me.... get a map.
The management must be doing something really right with their staff. The people in the haunts give it their all. The monsters strolling the grounds were awesome. All of the ride operators were exceedingly friendly, as were security personnel, the folks in the food areas, the nice lady who sold us our tickets and the nice lady in the restroom. Which brings me to cleanliness.... this place is so clean. The rides were clean - nothing gross on any of the seats, even the older rides and attractions were very clean. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and with a large and friendly staff, the park feels very safe. We will absolutely be back. And next time, I'm getting an Oktoberfest beer and a smoky sausage.
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