From the numerous jolly activities offered by Phillips Exeter, a trip to Canobie Lake Park is undoubtedly the one recreation that most students look forward to. With the highest volume of signups, (around 200 PEA Upper School Summer students), it is visibly the most popular.

“Canobie Lake is the trip I’m most excited for,” exclaimed Juman Alghalayini a night before the trip. “I cannot cannot cannot wait!”

Canobie Lake Park, in Salem, N.H,  an approximate 40-minute drive from campus, is the hot spot, where over 85 rides, various games and live shows await.

At 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, a huge pool of PEA Summer students was swarming by the Tan Lane pedestrians, excited to pile on the yellow charter buses.

Despite the scorching sun bathing the transport, elation was painted on every single student’s face. In the midst of tanned foreheads that trickled sweat, the thrilled chatter could not be contained. “Boston Tea Party!” shouted Alicia Wheeler. “The lines are so long, but we have to go. It’s the best! We’re going there first.”

Their exhilaration could be further shown by how prepared the PEA students were. The majority were informed about the rides and showed up with keen theme park plans. They mapped out where they would go first and last, and which would be the best time for dinner — all to make the best use of the short 6 hours left.

Once the Salem roadsigns appeared, the students only got more eager. Canobie Lake Park banners started emerging and the whole bus roared with excitement. Once the bus came to a halt, the representatives left to collect the tickets. While it barely took 5 minutes, the wait seemed to have lasted for hours.

“Come on! Come on!” yelled a bunch of students. “We need to be quicker! I want to ride everything,” yelled an impatient student. Once the tickets arrived, students spilled out of the charter buses and broke into a sprint to enter the park.

As the heat crashed down, the sight of merry children and brightly colored concession stands came into view. The scent of freshly baked pretzels and sweet Dippin’ Dots immediately overcame one’s senses. All the colors that burst from Canobie were happy — attraction signs, light poles, employees’ neon shirts, and even the trash bins. From one corner to the next, shrill yells could be heard as passengers were whipped around in the rides.

From classical merry-go-arounds to loop-de-loop rollercoasters, you could not have fallen short of rides. The newest roller coaster – Untamed — has a 97° vertical drop, while other coasters including Canobie Corkscrew and Yankee Cannonball are known for their unexpected drops and spiraling tracks.

“I almost pooped my pants riding the Untamed one, recollected Sabrina Kropp. But students made sure to keep their eyes open – as the views atop the rollercoasters are ones that should not be missed. Other thrilling attractions like Zero Gravity and Star-Blaster turned the world into a kaleidoscope of bursting hues.

The trip to Canobie Lake Park is the most expensive on Exeter’s Summer Activity list, reaching the peak of $45. Nevertheless, money was definitely not going to come in the way of the Exeter students’ fun.

“The thrill of the rides is definitely worth the cost!” exclaimed Maggie Chavis.

By 9 pm, the PEA crowd gathered by the theme park’s exit, not quite ready to leave yet. With souvenir bags in hand and goofy hats resting on students’ heads, everyone was content with the fun-filled day they had.

“It really changed my day,” said Francesca McAllister. “And put a smile on my face!”

The drive back to campus was the exact opposite of the afternoon ride. The worn-out students were cozied in their sweaters, and as we drove further from Canobie, the bus grew more silent, students’ heavy eyelids closed, a pleased smile plastered across all faces.