Tags: Lift Tickets, Magic Mountain, New England, Old School, ski, skiing, snowboarding, Throwback Thursday, tree skiing, Vermont
Posted: November 16, 2013
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There are many who refer to Magic’s approach as “old school”. It doesn’t mean were literally old (though the ski area has been around since 1960), but more that we are not fashionably following the ski industry trends as more areas keep changing who they are over time with many choosing to appeal to a very upscale audience interested in a wide variety of expensive amenities.
As you can see here, we have issues with being fashionable.
As I write this, we are down at the Boston Ski Show and it is amazing to see the displays from all the high-end destination resorts which seem to dominate the scene. Luxury hotels, spas, fine dining, entertainment and shopping options…you name it, the ski industry has it now. It’s a natural evolution of a mature industry to sell a myriad of new, newer, newest benefits. Nothing wrong with that at all–and many are doing it quite successfully.
But truthfully, and almost wistfully, without Mad River Glen having a booth in Boston this year, it feels like Magic is a “voice crying in the wilderness” here. Because what we talk about is the ski terrain and community. That’s what separates us and that’s ultimately what we think is most important if you are a ski enthusiast. The “new” we talk about is making our “old” more accessible, more often, to more people. That means more snowmaking to create season-long reliability and reasonable pricing so more people can afford to “get after it” here. (There’s always a tricky balancing act with pricing as the more snow we blow, the more our costs go up which can only be recovered by either higher prices or more folks riding both the Red and Black Chairs.)
During the show we had a major “new ” announcement–the introduction of “Throwback Thursday” at Magic. Every non-holiday and non-Powder Day Thursday, all tickets will be only $15– a step back in time to the late 1970s and early 80s! Clearly we are aiming to put more folks on our chairlifts heading into the weekend. Once people see what’s here, most like to come back. We’ve heard that a lot more from people visiting our booth this year. And, the “buzz” around the new pricing is turning some heads toward our little corner of the ski show.
Only an old-school place like Magic can really pull off a “throwback” special like we are creating. We have the terrain, the people and the atmosphere to deliver it. And, if we get a few more people who “get it” to discover that there is a pretty good alternative to where much of the industry is heading, then maybe the latest generation of skiers and riders who are unfamiliar with the “ways of old” will think we’re the new way. Because as you already know, being real is pretty cool.
Tags: glades, Magic Mountain, New England, ski, ski areas, ski resorts, skiing, snowboarding, tree skiing, Vermont, volunteers
Posted: October 18, 2013
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As an independent, boot-strapping, community-minded ski area, Magic believes its loyal skiers and riders are an essential component of what sets this mountain apart from much of the ski industry. The “regulars” seem to have a natural “friendliness gene” which makes first-timers feel so welcome by the end of the day that many visitors quickly sense there’s something different going on here–and that they can be as much a part of what’s happening as someone who’s been here hundreds of times. (As an example, I remember video-interviewing a first-time Magic skier last December 26th on his family’s first trip here. Steve had bought season passes and now has already showed up to work a Volunteer Day this last weekend!)
Strip away everything and it really comes down to two simple things which make Magic distinct:
1. Its natural ski terrain (the mountain)
2. Its natural ski vibe (Magic’s skiers/riders aka “the faithful”)
We often pay homage to the classic 1960s-style narrow ski trails which take the many fall lines off the ridge and the hundreds of acres of the best tree skiing and riding in the East. But much less attention gets focused on Magic’s skiers and riders.
Why would a ski resort promote its customers? There’s always new million dollar snowmaking equipment, multi-pack supersonic lifts, added luxury hotels and waterparks that are much more exciting “news”. I mean, aren’t most skiers basically the same and wanting the same thing wherever you go? Judging by where much of the ski industry has gone, the corporations certainly act that way.
Well. anyone who has been here knows there’s something very different than just the challenging terrain, classic lifts and old-school ticket wickets at Magic. I mean, sometimes it’s really hard to tell who are the “customers” and who are the Magic employees. That’s because our customers are not “guests”, they are extended family–all coming home for the winter. This merry band of winter enthusiasts truly represents Magic. They are certainly “hardy souls” who have been tested many times by both nature and man-made obstacles. But, more importantly, they are “hearty souls”…
The Magic faithful simply welcome visitors as if they’re invited guests to their home (no we don’t have “ambassadors” saying “good morning” for a free ticket). Our skiers just do that naturally. More often than not if you’ve never been here before, they’d be happy to take you down some trails or show you a hidden glade–just ask them (although maybe not on the first runs of a powder day). They will certainly chat you up on the Red Chair and, believe me, they will talk about all the great lines they had during apres ski at the Black Line Tavern. There the merry band gets a whole lot merrier when its “beer-thirty” and the band will quickly grow another person larger if you stop by.
But besides being deeply passionate about winter sports and appreciating every thing that the mountain terrain here offers, the Magic faithful help care for the place each season. Not only do some give hard-earned money for key improvement projects, we also know help is only a ski pole away if some project or event needs an extra hand during the ski season. And, during the off-season, many take a weekend or two off to come back and work on prepping Magic for another winter. Formalized a few years back into “Volunteer Days”, our skiers head here to clean up trails, clear new glades, paint the buildings, repair furniture, put in sound systems, and build new picnic tables. (You can view a video of their recent work here)
No mega-resort will do this because everything must be perfectly laid-out by corporate design. But the passionate involvement and energy of our people is our design. As you know, Magic will never be about manufacturing a perfect ski resort environment. We can’t and don’t want to keep up with the Joneses. But with the help of our regulars, an environment is in fact created here–an all-natural one (with no artificial flavoring added). And it’s a little bit different every day. Ain’t that more interesting?
So after two very successful and hard-working Volunteer Days, all we here at Magic can say is “THANK YOU!” Magic is not about us…it’s about you, and you guys prove it every year.
Tags: fall foliage, glades, Magic, Magic Mountain, ski, skiing, snowboarding, Vermont, Volunteer, winter
Posted: September 19, 2013
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But first, we need to get prepared! And, the fall is the perfect transitional season in New England. First we start to feel the cooler nights. Then we wake up to an early morning frost. But still the days can be sunny and pleasant with temperatures in the 60s. We make efforts to exercise more–especially for the legs. And, we check in on the state of our skis, boots and poles. Both the mind and body begin to prepare for the colder weather and the anticipation of what comes with it.
And like us, the mountain begins its preparation for winter as well. The ground begins to harden at night. The mountain grass doesn’t grow as fast. The leaves begin to change color and eventually drop. The evening shadows fall across the mountain sooner. All portending the coming snow that will blanket the hill.
This is also the time of stepped up activity on the mountain. The operations crew does the final mowing so trails are ready for the first few inches of whiteness. The chair lifts go through final maintenance, testing and inspection so they can transport folks up the hill. The snowmaking system begins to be brought back to life with old and new pipes welded, new guns purchased and pumping system tested so it’s ready to lay down tracks of snow come the November drop in temperatures.
And just as important as everything the operations team does, the rhythm of Magic’s autumn includes the footsteps of many of our skiers and riders fanning out over Magic to help clean and clear glades and work around the lodge–all in harmony with the mountain to help her welcome guests come winter time.
When Magic Volunteers arrive on September 21 and October 12, we know that winter is coming, because first…there’s work to do!
Update: Here’s a video from the 9/21 Volunteer Day–come on out for 10/12!
Tags: Freedom, Independence, Independence Day. Magic, July 4th, Londonderry, Magic Mountain, New England, Powder, ski, Ski Area, Ski Resort, skiing, Snow, snowboarding, Vermont, VT
Posted: July 2, 2013
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On July 4th the nation celebrates its independence from the yoke of tyranny and our long road down the path of democracy, freedom and liberty. When America first started on this path, there were few other nations serving as a model for democracy and freedom. And, while by no means perfected yet, the beauty of America is that we continue to try to create a “more perfect union”, never satisfied that we can’t be better than we were before.
In our own little way, Magic is also on a road with few models as we diverge from the corporate resort experience and seek to carve out an independent future which provides a bit more choice and freedom to skiers and riders. Certainly we have not perfected Magic–and maybe that’s part of its beauty too–but all of us strive to make each year better than before.
Also, the ironic thing about independence, as America found, is that you need the help and volunteerism of the people, of the community, to make it work. Certainly this is the case with Magic. Volunteers help keep the trails clear, create some new glades, check tickets, manage kids programs, and perform maintenance projects. Our ski community not only gives money for capital projects, but they are the very essence of the spirit and vibe which makes Magic so welcoming and different from major resorts. And, different is good!
Difference provides choice and variety. Without choice, we are all resigned to the same experience despite our individual desires. One of the problems with a ski industry that becomes increasingly consolidated by major corporate players, is that the ski experience over time becomes increasingly similar as they all look at the same “majority rules” research and have the same quarterly demand for higher yield and profit per customer. Skiing, already an expensive sport, not surprisingly, has become ever more exclusive with more “value added” services and “perks” created to justify higher pricing. Unfortunately many of the higher fee services are simply greater/more exclusive access to their basic product–thereby creating an unnatural “caste” system based on income stratification and restrictions. No longer is every skier or rider created equal in the eyes of the resort model.
At Magic, we want to see if we can create a natural, open, no restrictions, sport-focused model which enhances the ability for all to ski and ride (uh, like it used to be!) . This means no restrictions on passes or tickets and an open boundary-to-boundary mountain. (Now with freedom comes responsibility, so if a trail is closed, it’s still closed for safety reasons.) Freedom to start skiing as soon as the mountain opens and ski anywhere you want whether you are pass holder or ticket holder. Freedom from long lines and overcrowded slopes by retaining our non-high speed lift system to keep on-slope skier density down. Freedom from high pass and ticket prices that keep the sport out of reach for many middle class and local skiers and riders. Freedom to enjoy a variety of terrain, from groomed to all-natural, from trails to glades, from steep expert trails to gentle windy beginner slopes. Freedom to hang with family and friends in a low stress, friendly community atmosphere. Freedom to have a say in how the mountain evolves with capital improvements. While this may not be what a majority of skiers want based on the success big resorts are having, we think there are enough folks who desire a different, more personal and intimate experience–at least some of the time!
With Magic as a strong independent ski area option among the many resorts in the region, we hope to bring greater vitality and choice to the previously famed “Golden Triangle” of southern Vermont. And, we will again welcome any of our neighboring mountain pass holders to come visit us at a discount price next year just by showing their home mountain pass, so we can bring even more value to that pass. And, I’m sure some of Magic’s pass holders will be visiting other areas on days those mountains might have better conditions or they’d like a change of pace as well.
With independence comes a responsibility on our part to preserve what makes Magic different while continuing to improve the reliability of our product so our community can rely on this place for years to come. It is our hope that Magic can “set you free” from the typical resort experience. We will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we won’t strive to be better each season. And, with the help of our devoted and faithful community, we plan on celebrating many Independence Days together for years to come.
Happy 4th of July! And, we hope to see you here on the 4th for an All-American Grill on the Deck; on July 5th for the big fireworks show, cook out and The Battenkillers; and, on July 6th with the return of The Butties playing Beatle music all night long!
As you know, Magic folks try to keep it simple and real. Here it’s all about the sport of skiing, riding and the fun that comes with hanging out with a bunch of highly stoked winter fanatics. Nothing wrong with fancy amenities, we just happen to think the 1700 feet of vertical “amenities” is what it’s all about. And, we feel very few things should get in the way of accessing Magic’s amenities. So the parking lots are close by, the one lodge is centrally located, the crowds at lifts and on the slopes are non-existent, and our prices are affordable.
No doubt most of this industry has gone increasingly upscale in its appeal, but we need to remember that families, college kids, new entries into the work force, military, and seniors all deal with economic issues which can put skiing out of reach for many on a regular basis. So we again kept our regular lift ticket prices the same as the last two years and our season pass prices are still below $500, with no black outs! (Almost all major resorts are now well beyond $1000 for unrestricted season passes. )
And what do you get here for $439?—a pass that pays for itself in just 7 ski days so every day after that is “free”; all-access to southern Vermont’s best terrain from boundary-to-boundary; opportunities to bring guests at reduced rates on Sundays and earn Magic bucks for each new visitor (more to come on this); backstage passes to the most fun, relaxed après ski scene around at the Black Line Pub (well, we really don’t have a backstage); “on-top-of-the-ground” parking just steps from the lodge (how many steps will depend on how early you get here, but no matter what, no shuttle bus required); and, cushioned seats on two bottom-to-top “express” chairlifts covering the 1700’ vertical in well under 15 minutes—just enough time to rest and actually have a conversation with your skiing partner or to meet someone new. Is there more for the $439? Well, that’s up to you, but most have found a second home here—their winter home, with their winter friends. So a Magic Pass sure does seem like a pretty good deal.
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Tags: glades, Magic Mountain, ski, skiing, snowboarding, southern Vermont, tree skiing, vacations, Vermont
Posted: September 24, 2012
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Ready for a lift up the hill on the Red Chair
The first day of fall was also the first day of volunteer projects at Magic. And what a beautiful day it was to gather as a ski community and help prep the mountain for the coming winter season.
At least 40 people came to trim current glades, create new ones, and spurce up the lodge and deck. Thanks to all that came–you truly represent the spirit and dedication needed to keep an independent ski area vibrant in an era of large corporate resort entities.
The first glades crew went up at 9 am to tackle the mountain’s largest glade which is now “officially” on the map: The Wardrobe. It is steep and vast as it lies between both Sorcerer and Talisman. The crew cleaned it up and cleared it out to make the fall line to skier’s-right more accessible. But while the objective was The Wardrobe, the crew hit another great spot, not to be mentioned here, which is not on the official map, making a great new line for the upcoming season.
The first team cutting a new line
At 10 am the next crew headed up to the East Side of the hill to hit glades both on and off the map…”on” being Disappearing Act which now has a new skier’s-right route and “off” being a baby called “Up Your Shirt”. Also on the East Side there was an additional crew of pros weed wacking both Goniff Glade and Twilight Zone–two trails that only “goats” with power tools can handle.
Meanwhile back down below, volunteers were busy painting and repairing the lodge–with plans for a new sound system for the outdoor deck!
So with sun and temps in the 70s as the leaves start to turn, Magic was a hub of work this saturday, while customers also flowed in to challenge themselves in the new TimberQuest tree-crossing obstacle courses. But lest you think Magic is all work and no play–all our volunteers came together at day’s end to share a few cold ones, some food and talk about the new hidden stashes which await the new season. And with that, Day #1 was in the books, with two more Volunteer Days coming on October 6th and 20th.