Alpine coasters bring theme park thrills to ski resorts

There are a number of ways for roller coaster fans to get a fix during the long, cold winter months when most of the country’s theme parks are closed. Riding one of the alpine coasters that are popping up at ski resorts has got to be one of the best options. These personal thrill rides give spectacular views of the surrounding areas as they take advantage of the mountainous terrain that they’re built on.

Alpine coasters are similar to traditional roller coasters, but there are a few differences. The ride’s cars have a braking system that guests can use to control their speed which tops out at about 30 mph. Also, unlike roller coasters, alpine coasters can run in any weather. Their courses don’t appear to be too steep as they traverse wide, winding paths down hilly terrain and mountainsides.

Alpine coasters offer breath-taking views and a unique experience. Rides are a bit pricey though and they vary by ski resort. Prices for a single ride start out at around $9 and can cost as much as $20 or more. I’d pay up to $20 for a single ride, but I’m not sure I’d ride it more than once.

German company Wiegand, has built alpine coasters across the globe in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. The seven alpine coasters at U.S. ski resorts are: Breckenridge, Glenwood Springs, Jiminy Peak, Mount Cranmore, Okemo, Park City, and Wisp. Park City Utah’s Alpine Coaster is the largest in North America. Alpine coasters aren’t limited to ski resorts. They’re even popping up in tropical locations. In 2009, Dragon’s Tail opened at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s port in Labadee, Haiti.

[Image 1 credit: Flickr User dubswede]

Skiing in Vermont started earlier this year

The weather this year has been cooperating with Vermont–at least so far. I’ve read that Mount Snow opened last weekend. Other Vermont ski resorts opened this weekend, as well. Apparently, this is the earliest people have been able to hit the slopes in Vermont in almost 10 years. With the Thanksgiving weekend coming up, and the winter holidays close behind, I can imagine the resort owners and the people who work there are feeling gleeful. There are 20 Alpine ski resorts in the state, so if you can’t find a place to ski, you’re not looking that hard. The Web site “Ski Vermont” lists all of them.

Here are a few that are open already:

  1. Mount Snow just made fresh snow. Check out the deals. Kids 5 and under, ski for free and there’s a 10% military discount.
  2. Killington is the largest resort in the eastern United States. There’s a ski package you can buy to cut down costs.
  3. Okemo Mountain was named good for families by Ski Magazine. Here kids 6 and under can ski for free. If you buy a 3-day or more lift ticket, you can ski at two other resorts, Mt. Sunapee in New Hampshire and Stratton Mountain, also in Vermont, during that time frame pn the same ticket. Neat. Mt. Sunapee is not open yet. Stratton is scheduled to open November 21.

With the ski season upon us, expect more Gadling coverage. Here is a link to some past posts. Neil has one later today on a place where skiing is perhaps the last thing you’d think about when planning a trip there.