Big SNOW American Dream Is the Quickest Ski & Snowboard Trip You Can Take from the City
As New Yorkers, we’ve become accustomed to a certain level of convenience. (Pizza at 3 a.m.? No problem) And, well, this can be problematic come wintertime when the weather gods don’t feel like cooperating with our weekend ski plans. No more—now it’s possible to enjoy fresh powder on the ground pretty much anytime we want thanks to a new ski and snowboard experience just outside Gotham. Roughly 30 minutes or less from Times Square you’ll find Big SNOW at American Dream, the sparkling new and half-filled-with-stores mega mall in New Jersey. Here’s everything you need to know about this indoor ski and snowboarding experience, including what the slopes are like and how much a visit here will cost you.
How to Get to Big Snow at the American Dream Mall
If you’re like us, your annual ski and snowboarding trip with college buddies was postponed this year. Or perhaps you’ve had trouble securing a lift ticket at some of the local ski mountains, many of which are selling out each weekend due to reduced capacity during the ongoing pandemic. Luckily, Big SNOW’s indoor slope—which by the way, is North America’s first and only—is easily accessible by car from NYC, either by an Uber or by public transit from Port Authority. You could hypothetically leave midtown and be on the slopes in less than an hour’s time, which is all you need to know.
What to Expect from Skiing or Snowboarding at Big SNOW American Dream
Snow bunnies will find a pleasurable ski and snowboard experience on the slope, especially if you’re newer to the sport or looking to get in some serious practice laps. More advanced types should be warned—this is East Rutherford, not the Alps, though there’s great practice for those types of skiers too.
The main “hill” of Big SNOW is divided into two sides: a slope that resembles an outdoor hill (free of obstacles like trees or rocks, though!) and a side with tricks. We’re told the graduated degree of pitch is 26 percent at its steepest point, and while four total skiable acres may not seem like a lot of space, the slope feels bigger than it sounds when you consider that it’s 1,000 feet long and 200 feet wide. What Big SNOW offers on this slope is good clean fun that will encourage you to do lap after lap, but we wouldn’t mark it as challenging if that’s what you’re after.
The side with tricks does offer some options for more advanced types, particularly those that like rail tricks. There’s even a few jumps, a nice way to grab some air for high-adrenaline junkies. While it’s worth noting that a more advanced skier may lament the runs are fast and you have to slow down by the time you pick up some serious speed, beginner and intermediate types or more leisurely skiers will likely enjoy the experience.
With lots of technology throughout, the snow conditions are great—dry, powdery and consistent in nature, too. It might remind you of a ski hill in Utah or your trip to the Rockies...even if the view looks a little different. On that note, Big SNOW has installed faux evergreen trees at the base to add to the ambiance.
Both sides of the main hill are serviced by a quick quad chair lift, and there’s also a surface platter lift (the fancy term for those grab, go, and pray-style lifts more present in Europe).
Beginners, don’t fret—those “magic carpet” lifts you step right onto are available if you’re learning (and falling, which is half the fun of learning). There’s also a small dedicated ski area just for learners, ideal for those who are both curious and have anxiety about slapping a pair of sleds to their feet for the first time.
The temps inside Big SNOW are chilly and replicate that of a real outdoor winter experience, so make sure you bundle up. A rep tells us that real snow is made for the slopes by introducing tiny molecules of water into the cold air from specialized units in the center’s ceiling. As the water falls, it freezes and turns to snow through the same physical process by which snow is made outdoors in nature. Pretty gnarly.
Also unique to Big SNOW is the fact that you can show up without any gear, including no ski coat. One of Big SNOW’s packages includes all the equipment rentals, outerwear and a helmet, so you can just pack gloves and a scarf and be ready to go.
What to Know Before Booking Big SNOW at American Dream
Since American Dream has quite a few parking lots, here’s a pro tip: Make sure you follow signs as you enter the complex to park near the slope. Once there, skiers and snowboarders will be gearing up and making their way into the mall; keep your coat unzipped though as you head up two flights of escalators to arrive at the huge blue neon sign marking the entrance and check in.
Like most places abiding by COVID-19 safety precautions, Big SNOW tries to keep people spread out, but you’ll still need to queue up and be close-ish to people when you’re putting on your ski gear. They’ve done a good job about signage and plastic separators in tight spots, and you’re expected to wear a mask at all times, even while you’re on the slopes; however, as is par for the course these days, when we visited we did see a few slipped masks both from skiers and staff alike.
It’s easier to keep your distance when on the slope, since skiers need a lot of room anyway, so remember if you do book to first assess your level of risk for COVID-19. While the conditions are similar to that of outdoors, you’re technically going to be inside.
The Cost of Big SNOW at American Dream
Pricing for Big SNOW starts at $49.99, and you’ll likely want to book ahead of time and purchase your ticket package online; as of press time, there were still slots available online for this current weekend’s dates in February and packages including gear were coming in at $78 for two-hour slots. Note: Children ages 6 and under can get a free Slope Access ticket with accompanying adult ticket purchase.
Spectators can also join, though the après-ski right now is somewhat limited, unless you feel like hitting the mall food court. As an alternative, non-skiers can try out the SnoGo bikes on the slope, which, yes, are as fun as they look.
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