You know that ramp-looking structure at the mega-mall in the Meadowlands that has been iconic for all the wrong reasons -- it’s ugly technicolor exterior, namely.
Well, it’s going to be white like the rest of American Dream, eventually, according to renderings, but it will still be turning heads when the much-anticipated development opens Oct. 25.
The ski and snowboard park is being leased by SNOW Operating, which also operates Mountain Creek.
Big SNOW America at American Dream will stand 12-stories tall and cover 180,000 square feet of the 3 million square foot shopping, dining and entertainment complex.
“We’re looking at skiing and snowboarding as an amusement,” said Hugh Reynolds, vice president of marketing and sales for SNOW Operating.
“We’re not looking to replicate the outdoor mountain experience indoors. We’re looking at it as if the theme of our amusement park was a mountain experience, what would that look like,” he said. “How do we give guests a taste of what skiing and snowboarding is like in a very highly designed, game-ified and safe experience.”
Reynolds gave a first look at Big SNOW America Tuesday during Mdest19, a travel and tourism conference organized by Meadowlands Live! Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Big SNOW will target the 95% of the population that has never skied or snowboarded. The company expects to have 400,000 visits per year with 280,000 of those visits from new skiers or boarders.
“We’re trying to be the conduit that introduces hundreds of thousands of people to the mountain lifestyle,” Reynolds said.
The ski park will be kept at 28 degrees and contain real snow, he said.
Visitors will enter and exit it through a 5,000 square foot retail store. There will be a public lounge where parents can watch their children ski and the slope will be visible from neighboring restaurants -- a coffee shop, an ale house, and Lucky Strike bowling, he said.
Among the experiences that Big SNOW will sell are the 2-hour introductory session where visitors are outfitted in snow pants, a jacket, hat, gloves, a helmet, boots, and either skis and poles or a snowboard. This package also includes a complimentary lesson. More experienced skiers can go for the 4-hour ski pass.
Passes are sold based on time and in 15-minute blocks because Big SNOW will have a fixed capacity of 500 people per hour on the slope.
Visitors will be ushered into a gondola car (it looks like a tram car at a ski resort out west) that’s actually a video room. After watching a video they will exit into the rental area to get outerwear and equipment.
Unlike typical lessons where they take you to the top of the bunny hill, Reynolds said, and tell you to slide down the hill, SNOW Operating has designed a process to teach people how to ski and snowboard using shaped snow features that control their speed and direction. It’s the snow sport equivalent of using the bumpers when you bowl, Reynolds said.
The slope itself was inherited from previous developers. It was constructed more than a decade ago when the project was known as Xanadu.
“It gets pretty steep at the top, Reynolds said. “To mellow out the grade on the skiers’ righthand side we’re going to have a series of bank turns ... to take you down from the top, so (the) little less experience(d), you can do that. On the skiers’ left, you’ll have open skiing and snowboarding. And then down on the learning hill and in the base area will be some of the initial steps in the learning progression.”
Big SNOW will also have a snow play element for people who don’t ski or snowboard but want to get on snow -- for example, it will offer tubing and sliding.
“At Mountain Creek we bring in a lot of Brazilian tourists, Chinese tourists, people who don’t see snow normally in their home country, they come just to see snow,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds would not divulge how much the different experiences would cost at Big SNOW.
“Our pricing model is to be as affordable as we can -- much more affordable than outdoor resort skiing,” he said. “The people I have bounced pricing information off of are typically shocked at what we’re thinking of opening at. Volume and accessibility are paramount for us.”