Magic Mountain, long considered to have the best and most challenging terrain in southern Vermont, has fallen on hard times of late. A lack of funding has left aspects of the mountain in disrepair, while limited snowmaking capabilities have made it difficult for them to even stay open an entire season. However, the recent sale to Ski Magic, LLC could prove to be the boost Magic Mountain needs to restore it to its once former glory while simultaneously giving the surrounding towns of Londonderry and Chester a welcome economic boost.
Magic Mountain's History
Magic Mountain was founded by Swiss ski instructor Hans Thorner in 1960, originally choosing that specific mountain because its fall lines reminded him of those in his native Switzerland. Since that time, Magic has had its peaks and valleys. At its height during the 1970's, The Golden Era of New England skiing, it formed part of the "Golden Triangle" with Bromley and Stratton. It has also seen several lows, since that time, none worse than when it was shut down in the early 90's during the economic downturn. Recent issues, like the disrepair and inability to fix the Black Summit Chair has left Magic just short of closing. However, times are about to change.
Ski Magic to Institute a 5 Year Plan
Ski Magic, LLC, the group who purchased the 709 acre area, is made up of local investors who are passionate about making Magic Mountain into what it once was, an affordable throwback ski resort that is more about their sick terrain and skier experience than the glitz and glam of more corporate resorts. Right now, the sale is still in its due diligence phase but Ski Magic, LLC has already begun to institute their five year plan. The initial phase of this plan includes the restoration of the Black Summit Chair, a triple that was closed down by the state two years ago for failing inspection. This major renovation when combined with the new snowmaking capabilities they are installing, will expand the skiable terrain making more acres accessible to a variety of skiers and riders. Furthermore, Ski Magic has enlisted the support of its local fan base and will have a number of "Volunteer Days" where the local community of skiers and riders will help restore the lodge and clear gladed areas in order to prepare the mountain for its projected December opening.
Improvements Will Apres Ski Great Again
Looking beyond this preliminary phase of improvements, president Geoff Hatheway, said "In addition, over the course of the initial 5-year plan we will be making improvements to the young family and learn-to-ski programs by installing a new "carpet" conveyor lift that's so much easier to use than our current handle tow. We will also be exploring a possible mid-mtn lift to access easier terrain and create earlier season opening opportunities." Hatheway even let the cat out of the bag for some new après ski improvements saying, "that besides a focus on the ski product outside (lifts and snowmaking), we want to create an even better experience in the lodge for where we already have one of the more lively and fun apres ski scenes in New England. Plans are being reviewed to move our Black Line Tavern closer to its original spot when it was the Abracadabra Lounge in the 70s, to create a more open space feel with the higher ceilings and view of the mountain during apres ski."
Renewed Magic to Improve the Local Economy
Not to be lost in all of this is how the improvements to the mountain will affect the surrounding communities. Hathaway elaborated on this, saying, "In terms of the surrounding towns, we are looking to almost double our skier visits to Magic over the next 5 years, which means more stays and more commerce in our local communities of Londonderry, Chester, Weston, Winhall, Manchester, Jamaica etc. The idea is to create a reliable and strong partner for our Londonderry home and surrounding towns for their businesses, employment and community outreach and events, in addition to a great place to recreate and socialize. We need to be a valuable local resource." It is hard to argue with the logic that making Magic Mountain a more suitable mountain to ski along with a lengthier ski season, thanks to improved snowmaking, will most certainly bring more skiers and riders to the area. The increased number of visitors will inject money into the local economy that has suffered slightly in recent winters due to Magic Mountain's struggles.
A Throwback Ski Experience that is Magic
Ultimately these initial improvements along with future plans shows Ski Magic, LLC's commitment to restoring Magic Mountain to what is was at its height. This means bringing the "Magic" back with a throwback ski experience that includes lower lift ticket prices, a renewed après ski scene, less crowded slopes and, most importantly, some of the gnarliest terrain in southern Vermont.