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East Coast

New Jersey’s Big Deal

Big SNOW American Dream brings skiing to the metropolis.

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Sixteen years after the seed was first planted, a much-hyped project has finally come to fruition: Big SNOW American Dream, North America’s first indoor ski slope, opened for business on December 5, 2019. The 180,000-square-foot, 16-story facility boasting a graduated 1,000-foot slope covered in manmade snow and serviced by four lifts will be open to skiers and snowboarders 365 days a year.

Donna Weinbrecht, Red Gerrard, Kelly Clark, and Lindsey Vonn get the first and only first chair at Big SNOW.Photo courtesy of Big SNOW American Dream

The real kicker: The country’s first indoor ski slope is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the massive facility is just one attraction housed in American Dream, a $5 billion dollar, three-million-square-foot megamall featuring an indoor water park, ice rink, amusement park, shops, and restaurants.

“Big SNOW is a game changer for skiing and snowboarding in the United States,” says Hugh Reynolds, vice president of marketing and sales for SNOW Operating, the New Jersey-based company in charge of running Big SNOW. “The unprecedented access to year-round snow combined with the center’s unrivaled location and the overall appeal of American Dream will allow us to provide opportunities never seen before.”

Lindsay Vonn Big Snow Skiing
Lindsey Vonn makes turns at Big SNOW during opening day.Photo courtesy of Big SNOW American Dream

Though perhaps unexpected, Big SNOW’s New Jersey location just off the Turnpike is a strategic spot, less than 22 miles from LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark international airports, and well within striking distance of New York City and its surrounding suburbs. American Dream owners, the Triple Five Group, hopes the location and unprecedented attractions will draw 40 million annual visits.

“Our goal is to introduce more than a quarter million new skiers and snowboarders to the sports in the next year … and to move the needle on growing the sports in a big way,” says Reynolds. To help beginners get comfortable on the slopes, Big SNOW offers introductory lessons, private coaching, and children’s programs, as well as affordable equipment and outerwear rentals.

With only a 160-foot vertical drop and a 26 percent pitch at its steepest point, Big SNOW is nothing like real skiing, critics may say. Yet, with a “base area” equipped with retail shops and après bars, a constant 28-degree temperature, and 5,500 tons of snow, Big SNOW aims to re-create a true ski resort experience and conditions “similar to a cold, crisp day of outdoor skiing,” says Reynolds. “The kind when the snow squeaks under your feet.”

This story originally ran in the December 2019 issue of SKI Magazine. It has been edited to reflect that Big SNOW is now open.