By David Schissler – The days of ski areas closing when the snow is gone have long passed. With the popularity of mountain biking exploding in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s the “light bulb” went on and resort managers realized they could build an off-season customer base. Suddenly, many resorts were turning lifts in the summer and fall, cutting out single-track routes and opening trails for bike enthusiasts. From there, the “ski resort” became an all season activity center less reliant on snowfall and the winter season. The door was opened for disc golf, zip lines, and mountain coasters.
In fact, off mountain activities and facilities have become common at many resorts. A friend of mine had plans to take her family on a Presidents Week ski vacation to Camelback, PA. When an extended bout of warm weather and rain hit the area I asked her if she still intended to go given the downpours, melting, and freezing. She said, “Sure. There’s plenty of other things for all of us to do there besides skiing.”
The ante continues to rise. A few years ago Jay Peak, VT made waves by opening a gigantic indoor water park. During a recent visit to Smuggler’s Notch, VT Media Relations Manager Mike Chait took me on a tour of their new FunZone 2.0. You have to see this place to believe it. Smugglers bills it as “the next dimension in family fun”. They aren’t kidding. After spending $4.4 million they have created a two-story structure containing 26,000 square feet of adolescent joy. You can buy activities a la cart for about $6 or buy an all-day pass for $25. Take my word for it. Buy the all-day pass. Your family will want to do just about everything and it will add up quickly.
Here’s what you’ll find at the FunZone:
30-foot, see through climbing tower with multiple pitches for all ability levels
3-dimensional Mountain Rally Races slot car track modeled after Smugglers’ three mountains and cozy resort village
30-foot “leap of faith” thrill activity with automatic rappel system
Two cutting-edge Ninja Warrior-inspired courses with physical challenges allowing participants to race the clock for the best time
3,500-square foot, one-of-a-kind mountain-themed laser tag facility
Lazer Maze challenge with multiple levels of complexity
2,000-square foot arcade with video games and redemption center
Inflatable obstacle courses
20-foot giant inflatable slide
Sky walk viewing area with views of climbing tower, Leap of Faith, and Smuggs Warrior course
Littles’ Loft toddler area with Vermont-inspired Country Store make-believe area, large foam blocks for building, kid-sized inflatable obstacle course, and lounge area for parents
ReFuel Café featuring food and beverage with seating area, also serving beer and wine
Two private party rooms with rental packages available
“I am very proud of the commitment to Family Fun represented by this project. More specifically, that the capital and ideas in building the Next Dimension in Family Fun have been fully conceived and led by Smugglers’ staff, built and designed by Vermont companies, and financed by Smugglers’ and Vermont lenders.” -Bill Stritzler, Smugglers’ Notch Managing Director.