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On March 10, 2021 Vail Resorts dropped a cryptic message onto its Facebook timeline that’s had us industry folks scratching our heads since.
“This Changes Everything,” were the three simple words.
Speculation ensued, with people throwing out possibilities that included either increasing or dropping the reservation system, widespread refunds or pass credits, and even that Vail Resorts would be offering a year-round membership instead of season passes.
On one such speculative post, Roger Williams, a member of the Epic Pass Holders group on Facebook commented, “They’re lowering prices to be more family friendly and inclusive.” He followed up his comment with an emoji of a guy rolling on the floor laughing.
Turns out it’s not so funny after all. Vail’s big news is indeed a 20-percent across-the-board price cut to all of its Epic season pass products, essentially taking rates back to the 2015-’16 season when the VR portfolio of resorts number 11 as opposed to today’s 70.
“When we launched the Epic Pass 13 years ago, we began a journey to offer incredible value, flexibility and access to pass holders in exchange for a commitment before the season starts,” said Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in a press release. “Today, as we double down on our pass strategy by dramatically reducing our pass prices, we are excited to make it easier for everyone to move into a pass, and we remain fully committed to ensuring continuous improvements in the guest experience.”
Pass Wars on Are On: Start Skiing Now on Next Season’s Ikon Pass
As of today, you can buy a full, unrestricted Epic Pass for $783 and an Epic Local Pass for $583. The full Ikon Pass, for reference, is $999 ($899 for current pass holders who renew by May 4.) However, you can pay over time with Ikon thanks to 3-, 6-, and 12-month financing plans with no money down.
This is all part of Vail’s Epic For Everyone campaign, which launched two years ago with the aim of making season-pass-type prices available to everyone. While it’s fallen a bit short since its inception, we’re happy to report that Epic For Everyone has come through with true single-day discounts for next season through the Epic Day Pass, such as $87/day at Vail (the window rate is currently $219).
What’s more, new for this season is a second level of resort access on the Epic Day Pass. Now skiers can buy deeply discounted day tickets at select resorts, including Keystone, Crested Butte, Stowe, Northstar, Heavenly, and more. Epic Day Passes start at $67/day at these resorts, and skiers can customize their purchase by choosing the number of days and whether or not they want to include holidays. These new Epic Day Passes go on sale on April 29.
Seriously, though, when was the last time a day ticket was $67 at Keystone?
The Epic Day Pass is a great option for people who might not ski enough to warrant a full pass purchase but still want pass holder perks such as Epic Coverage pass insurance and a 20-percent discount on lodging, dining, and other resort services.
As news of the price cut leaked out into universe, grumblings about lift lines and crowds at already packed resorts predictably popped up on various Facebook pages. Skiers worried that although Covid will be better contained by next season, it will still need to be managed. Others countered that lines seemed longer due to chairlift restrictions, and with additional activities back in the winter rotation, including sporting events and other indoor past times, skiing might not be the go-to for as many people.
While VR says it can’t predict what chairlift- and gondola-loading will look like in the 2021-’22 season—state and regional health guidelines will determine that—the company did announce that it will be doing away with reservations for next season. CEO Katz briefly addressed the issues of crowding in a press release last week.
“While we do not know exactly how COVID-19 will impact our industry next winter, we are not planning to have a reservation system next season,” Katz wrote in a letter to pass holders late last week. “For anyone worried that the absence of a reservation system will lead to longer lift lines, we have extensive learning from this season around lift loading efficiencies and are implementing new strategies to materially reduce wait times.”
One of these strategies appears to be erecting new lifts at several big resorts, including Breckenridge, Crested Butte, and Okemo, which is great news after most infrastructure upgrades were put on hold in the run up to the pandemic winter.
Reactions over dropping the reservation system were mostly positive, even though opinions about the efficacy of the reservations system varied widely throughout the season. Some skiers couldn’t get reservations at their resort of choice, though location (smaller Eastern ski areas were harder to secure) and day of the week (weekend vs. weekday) seemed to play into a lot of these issues. Other happily had no complaints.
Wrote Collin Wilesky on the FB Epic Pass Holders page, “I have 25 days, and still no problem with Epic at all.”Section divider
Epic Pass Perks for 2021-22
Epic Mountain Rewards, which rolled out last season, is back. Show your Epic Pass to the cashier to get a 20 percent discount at any Vail-owned restaurant, mid-mountain lodge, or cafeteria at any of their North American resorts. This applies to any type of Epic Pass, including the Epic Local, Epic Day, Military, Summit Value, Keystone Plus, Keystone-Crested Butte 4-Pack, Park City 4-Pack, Tahoe Local, Tahoe Value, and the Northeast Value and Northeast Midweek passes. The discount also applies to ski and snowboard lessons, lodging reservations, retail, rentals, and more.
Do you like powder? Take 20 percent off guided cat skiing in Keystone and Whistler Blackcomb’s heliskiing packages. It’s basically a price cut across the board for Epic Pass holders. No strings attached.
Also back for next ski season is Epic Coverage, included with each pass purchase. The pass insurance covers skiers in the event of injury, illness, unemployment, and certain resort closures due to Covid-19 or other circumstances. (Do read the fine print. Many people who thought they were eligible for refunds or credits this season due to state travel restrictions and other pandemic-related issues were angered to find out they weren’t covered.)Section divider
Unlimited Resort Access with Full Epic Pass
- Afton Alps, Min.
- Alpine Valley, Ohio
- Attitash Mountain Resort, N.H.
- Beaver Creek, Colo.
- Big Boulder, Pa.
- Boston Mills, Ohio
- Brandywine, Ohio
- Breckenridge, Colo.
- Crested Butte, Colo.
- Crotched Mountain, N.H.
- Heavenly, Calif./Nev.
- Hidden Valley, Mo.
- Hunter Mountain, N.Y.
- Jack Frost, Pa.
- Keystone, Colo.
- Kirkwood, Calif.
- Liberty Mountain Resort, Pa.
- Mad River Mountain, Ohio
- Mount Snow, Vt.
- Mount Sunapee, N.H.
- Mt. Brighton, Min.
- Northstar, Calif.
- Okemo, Vt.
- Paoli Peaks, Ind.
- Park City, Utah
- Roundtop Mountain Resort, Pa.
- Snow Creek, Mo.
- Stevens Pass, Wash.
- Stowe, Vt.
- Vail, Colo.
- Whitetail Resort, Pa.
- Wildcat Mountain, N.H.
- Wilmot, Wis.
- Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
- Falls Creek, Australia
- Hothham, Australia
- Perisher, Australia
Limited Resort Access with Local and Regional Epic Passes
In addition to the ski areas listed above, the full Epic Pass has a number of partners that offer a limited number of days at participating resorts. While most of the North American partners allow for lift access without any other stipulations, some international partners require additional purchases or reservations in order to use your Epic Pass. Please check out the Epic Pass website for the most up-to-date info and additional information.
United States (7 Days)
Canada (7 Days)
- Fernie Alpine Resort, B.C.
- Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, B.C.
- Kimberley Alpine Resort, B.C.
- Mont-Sainte Anne, Qué.
- Nakiska Ski Area, Alb.
- Stoneham, Qué.
Please note that many of these European ski resorts have special requirements in order to use an Epic Pass. For more information, please read the fine print on the Epic Pass website.
Les 3 Vallées, France (7 Days)
- Val Thorens
- Les Menuires
- Saint Martin de Bellevelle
- La Tania
Skirama Dolomiti, Italy (7 Days)
- Madonna di Campiglio
- Ponte di Legno-Tonale
- Andalo-Fai della Paganella
- Monte Bondone
4 Vallées, Switzerland (5 days)*
- La Tzoumaz
Ski Arlberg, Austria (3 Days)*
- St. Christoph
- St. Anton
*Must book minimum 3 consecutive nights of lodging at participating property to redeem passes. Click here for more information.
Japan (5 Days)
- Able Hakuba Goryu
- Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park
- Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort
- Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field
- Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort
- Hakuba Happo-One Snow Resort
- Hakuba Norikura Onsen Snow Resort
- Hukuba Sanosaka Snow Resort
- Jigatake Snow Resort
- Kashimayari Ski Resort
- Tsugaike Kogen Snow Resort
Full Epic Pass Price Information
- Adult: $783
- Kids (12 and under): $399
- No blackout dates at any of the limited or unlimited locations above for the full Epic Pass.
- The Epic Local, Epic Day Pass, and a number of regional Epic Passes may have holiday restrictions. For more information, visit the Epic Pass website.
- 20 percent off lodging, dining, lessons, and more at Vail Resorts locations in North America. Learn more here.
- 20 percent off guided cat skiing in Keystone and Whistler Blackcomb’s heliskiing packages.
- 10 Buddy Pass tickets, offering up to 45 percent off window rates
- 6 Ski With A Friend (SWAF) Tickets of varying discounts. Learn more here.
For more information and details about the Epic Local Pass, visit the Epic Pass webpage.