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Whistler Blackcomb lift passes on sale

Vail Resorts introduces new 'Epic Day Pass'
The Epic Day Pass lets guests create their own pass by selecting the number of days they plan to ski
The Epic Day Pass lets guests create their own pass by selecting the number of days they plan to ski or ride (from one to seven days) at any of Vail Resorts' North American ski areas. File photo

Vail Resorts' suite of passes for the 2019-2020 season is now on sale, with new options for skiers of all types.

Chief among them is the new Epic Day Pass, which lets guests create their own pass by selecting the number of days they plan to ski or ride (from one to seven days) at any of Vail Resorts' North American ski areas.

"With [the Epic Day Pass], we are excited to provide all of our guests with the value, flexibility and convenience that come with being a pass holder," said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts, in a release.

"The launch of the Epic Day Pass transforms both season pass and lift ticket pricing and allows our guests to decide where, when and how frequently they want to ski or ride, which is exactly what made our Epic Pass so popular when we first introduced it over a decade ago."

The Epic Day Pass starts as low as US$106 for one day of skiing (the cost-per-day gets lower the more days you add, and the lowest prices will be found this spring, according to the release).

The Epic Pass, which provides unlimited, unrestricted access to all Vail Resorts ski areas and additional access to partner resorts around the world, is launching at US$939 for the 2019-20 winter season (up from US$899 last year).

Other pass options at Whistler Blackcomb include the Unlimited Pass, the Sea-to-Sky Pass, the Student Pass, the Spirit Pass and the Founder's Pass.

The Parent Pass will not be reinstated, but all 2018-19 Parent Pass holders have the option to purchase two unlimited season passes for C$1,559.

The remixed offerings are about providing options for people, said Whistler Blackcomb's communications director Marc Riddell.

"We saw a lot of success last year with our two-day Edge card, and noticed that there was a lot of pickup with that," Riddell said, adding that the company has also heard a lot about affordability, particularly in regards to more casual skiers.

"How do we go after that casual skier? The Edge cards are obviously a great deal for those folks that are thinking about coming up here, and they do offer deep discounts in terms of food and lodging and all that sort of stuff, but we really wanted to kind of look at, 'OK, well how do we attract maybe that skier who is not interested in those types of discounts?'" he said.

"Maybe they're new to the sport, or just trying it out, so we think the new Epic Day Pass allows folks to come and do that in a manner that is a lot lower than what you'd pay at the ticket window."

While the Epic Day Pass offers some flexibility, the Vail Resorts business model is still very much about encouraging early pass sales.

"It's good not only from a business standpoint, but it also is good for our community," Riddell said.

"It ensures that regardless of weather variability, we do have that kind of security going into the season, and that allows us to do stuff like invest in the on-mountain product, build new lifts, which we did this year, and also allows for us to have our staff good and ready to go when the season comes around."

Tourism Whistler was happy to see the announcement on March 5 as well.

"We're really excited about the new customizable Epic Day Pass here at Tourism Whistler," said president Barrett Fisher, in an email.

"It's great to see the introduction of a product that offers guests both value and flexibility on skiing and snowboarding when they choose to visit our destination."

With Alterra Mountain Company's own IKON pass (which offers access to 38 destinations worldwide) gaining steam, Vail Resorts has had to think of new ways to innovate — and competition is ultimately good for everyone, Riddell said.

"We're obviously mindful of the competition, but at the end of the day, we're the ones that introduced the Epic Pass. We're the ones that changed the game in terms of these pass products and pre-purchase," he said.

"So they're only following what we're doing, but at the same time, it's always good to have another player in the game. It keeps us interested and keeps us competitive, and drives us to think of innovative ways to attract customers like introducing the new Epic Day Pass."

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