Spend An Entire Evening at Canobie Lake Park Screeemfest, the Haunted Theme Park (5 stars)

Canobie Lake Park is my favorite theme park in New England, being less commercial than Six Flags New England and within a less artificial setting, with an actual lake that you can tour by ship and gondola ride. In October they bring both Rocktoberfest and Screeemfest, their Halloween attraction.

Most of the theme park rides, except the water park, are open, so you can have a fantastic and non-spooky time just wandering to play the carnival games, ride the rides, and eat. They even have a petting zoo on afternoons, before Screeemfest begins at 6pm. At the Rocktoberfest stage, catch the tribute to AC/DC, Kiss, Michael Jackson, and Aerosmith. You can spend an entire afternoon and evening in the park, easily, which seems to be even bigger than Lake Compounce. You’ll find an astonishing variety of rides from the easygoing gondola ride and bumper cars up to fully modern and recently added roller coasters.

The five haunted attractions themselves are greatly improved since my last visit. The Canobie Lake Hotel is a hotel themed haunted with great staging and sets, plenty of actors, and interesting costuming. Carnivus had a lot of filler and plywood, but a laser light room, some animatronics, and a “Vortex”, an illusion room that seems to spin around you as you walk through. The Culling, a cult themed haunt, had ordinary staging and the actors seemed untrained, but the laser lighting and fog effects were out of this world, both beautiful and scary. I look forward to returning to see the other attractions.

Although the Halloween attractions don’t make my short list of the best in New England, they are well worth seeing, and the outdoor setting with theme park rides is gloriously happy. Screeemfest again earns a well-deserved 5 stars.

See www.canobie.com/screeemfest.