2022-23 Epic Pass Prices Tick up Slightly as Vail Doubles-Down on Discount Pass Strategy
Vail introduces monthly payment plan & cheaper Epic Day Pass Tier; Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Laurel added to Epic, Epic Local, & Northeast Value & Midweek passes
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Vail released details of its 2022-23 Epic Passes this morning, unveiling prices only slightly more expensive than the company’s 2021-22 suite. Access tiers and pass products remain mostly unchanged, save for the addition of newly acquired Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel in Pennsylvania to several passes and the loss of Snowbasin and Sun Valley, which will join the Ikon and Mountain Collective Passes next season instead. Vail is also introducing a new Epic FlexPay monthly payment plan and a lower-tier, lower-cost Epic Day Pass. Here’s an overview of most unlimited pass products (I cover Vail’s super-discounted military passes and Epic Day Passes farther down in the article):
*Indicates early-bird 2021-22 pass price. Prices increased from 4.66% (Wilmot) to 16.47% (Epic Local) before passes went off-sale in December 2022.
**Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. These are: Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse, Nakiska, Stoneham, Mont-Sainte Anne
^Japan resorts are: Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park, Able Hakuba Goryu, Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field, Jiigatake, Tsugaike, Hakuba Cortina, Hakuba Harpo-One, Hakuba Norikura, Kashimayari, Rusutsu
^^European partners are Skirama Dolomiti, Italy (7 consecutive days, no lodging requirement); Ski Arlberg, Austria (3 consecutive days, lodging requirement); Verbier 4 Vallees Switzerland (5 consecutive days, lodging requirement); Les 3 Vallees, France (7 consecutive days, no lodging requirement)
***2022-23 holiday blackout dates will be Nov. 25 and 26; Dec. 26 to 31; Jan. 14; Feb. 18 and 19
Vail’s re-commitment to the discount Epic Pass strategy, launched last spring, re-asserts its Epic for Everyone narrative, a conviction that frequent skiing, purchased well in advance, should be affordable for nearly anyone who wants it.
This year’s Epic Pass release comes at the tail-end of a sometimes-troubling season for Vail Resorts, during which staffing shortages contributed to idled lifts, inadequate snowmaking, and truncated operating hours at ski areas across the country. The company largely addressed these issues last week with a comprehensive plan to raise frontline-employee wages to $20 an hour continent-wide, aggressively build housing on its owned land, boost human-resources support, and move corporate employees back into resort communities via a flexible-work program. This widely lauded plan should mitigate similar operational issues next season, sparing the need to pump prices back to 2019-20 levels or ramp up blackout dates at higher-volume ski areas.
Still, Vail’s decision to raise pass prices slightly is unsurprising. Costs on everything are rising. The company is pumping $325 million into 21 new lifts this offseason. This new labor plan will run $175 million – per year. And even with the bump, Ikon Passes are still considerably more expensive: the $1,079 Ikon Pass is $238 more than the $841 Epic Pass, and the $769 Ikon Base Pass – which comes with considerably more restrictions than the $626 Epic Local Pass - is an extra $143.
Vail is treating its three newest ski areas – Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel in western Pennsylvania – in the same manner as it has its other five mountains in the state. The Epic, Epic Local, and Northeast Value passes will all deliver unlimited, no-blackout access to all three resorts, which are also included in the Northeast Midweek pass.
The Epic FlexPay payment plan option is welcome, even if the insistence on jamming “FlexPay” together into one word is definitely not. Payments would begin in September and can be spread out over three, six, nine, or 12 months. For whatever reason, this is not available to West Virginia or Iowa residents.
Vail is also introducing a new, lower-cost tier to its Epic Day Pass product. Skiers can purchase a single-day lift ticket available at 22 Vail Resorts for just $44 non-holiday. The product excludes all Western resorts, plus the three Vermont mountains and Hunter.
Here’s a closer look at this year’s changes, and what they mean for Epic Pass holders, Vail Resorts, and North American skiing as a whole:
Below the subscriber jump: why Epic Pass prices only rose modestly; where Seven Springs, Laurel, and Hidden Valley fit into the Epic Pass suite; what it means to lose Sun Valley and Snowbasin; Vail’s commitment to the military; a breakdown of Epic Day Passes; and more.