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FOR THE FEARLESS: The heart-pounding Equinox rises about 75 feet in the air during its spin cycle. 

Swing, flip, plunge and soar into spring at Canobie Lake Park this weekend


Canobie Lake Park in Salem 

Swing into spring - and maybe plunge, soar, flip and spin out of control while you're at it.

A longtime Granite State seasonal attraction, Canobie Lake Park in Salem opens its doors and cranks up the rides, including the heart-pounding Equinox, on Saturday, April 27.

Looking from afar like some modern-day windmill, the Equinox is no mild-mannered spinner. Thrill-seekers board three huge red arms that revolve around a center hub. An enormous boom lifts 24 passengers at a time about 75 feet in the air and then rotates, with each arm, in turn, commencing a series of its own fierce flips.

And if that isn't enough to shake a rider's equilibrium, Canobie is gearing up a host of other wild rides this weekend, including the aptly named Corkscrew Coaster, pendulum-like Pirata swinging ship, Starblaster lift-off and plunge on an 80-foot tower, Untamed rollercoaster with stomach-lurching drops, Extreme Frisbee spin, and, for amusement park purists, the Yankee Cannonball wooden rollercoaster, Giant Sky Wheel and the whirling tea cups.

For a slightly smoother ride, families can check out the Kiddie Dragon Coaster, Canobie Express train and the Caterpillar, a circular journey under the cover of darkness. (Castaway Island, Canobie's water play park, won't open until Memorial Day Weekend.)

Giving guests a chance to catch their collective breath, Canobie this season also is bringing back its musical tribute lineups, with lookalikes and soundalikes taking to the Dancehall Theatre and Midway Stage to perform tunes by Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Elvis Presley, and, new to the lineup, Katy Perry. Shows are planned in June, July and August.

Also being offered at the park is an educational initiative, The Canobie Institute, that offers 15 programs to school groups. Projects, physics and science experiments, presentations and course work is designed to complement what students learn inside the classroom. The idea is to reinforce math, science, creative, history, biology and other principles in a fun environment.

The park's annual one-day sale is scheduled in conjunction with opening day, with a rain date of Sunday, April 28. Admission passes will be sold for a reduced price of $27, which is $8 off the regular season price. Purchased passes would be valid for any one day during Canobie's operating calendar. A portion of proceeds from the One-Day sale will benefit the One Fund Boston to help people affected by the Boston bombings. For more information, visit canobie.com or call 893-3506.

FAMILIAR FACES: Musical tribute acts at Canobie Lake Park this year will conjure the looks and sounds of some of music's top musical acts, past and present, including Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. 

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