Vail Resorts made news earlier this year when it purchased two resorts in the Midwest, including Afton Alps. It stated its intention to spend $10 million renovating Afton, and over the summer, announced various changes, including a new fleet of snowguns, expansions to the largest terrain park, and upgrades to some buildings.
So now that we’re well into the season, what has changed? New signs, some new restrooms, a new terrain park, a new ticketing system, and new music, for starters.
Terrain parks have become more prominent under Vail's management. Dee's Dive, a small, steep slope, has been turned into a home for three large jumps. The land previously dedicated to tubing has been incorporated into a larger park, which now sports a sound system and rope tows.
Accompanying the expanded terrain park is a new mini-base area called the Landing Zone, or LZ. It's not completely finished, but it includes a new yurt, some chairs for spectators who wish to view the hill, and a repurposing of the old tubing chalet. For example, you can now purchase alcoholic beverages in the chalet, and then collapse into one of six oversized stuffed pillows. A new sound system blasts music both inside and outside the chalet and yurt.
The Highlands chalet has seen some updates, too. The bar there, now prominently called the Crest Mountain Grill, is more open and lighter, thanks to new furniture and the destruction of the loft.
The ticketing system, meanwhile, has switched from paper to plastic, and emphasizes Vail's in-house version of Alpine Replay or Map My Ride, two popular phone apps for tracking and sharing skiing/riding exploits.
These are just a few of the changes you may spot on your next visit to Afton Alps. For more, see the full review at Twin Cities Ski & Ride.