Construction is well underway for the Beast Mountain Coaster, on schedule to open by the end of July or beginning of August.
By Karen D. Lorentz
Killington will debut its new Snowshed Adventure Center on June 26. When the curtain rises, adventure seekers will find both popular thrill attractions like a Skyeride and four-story ropes course and some unique activities like mining and maze explorations.
The attractions offer fun for kids of all ages, and offer varying levels of challenge.
Killington’s Communications and Public Relations Manager Michael Joseph said the new adventure center seeks to offer diverse, authentic adventures that “provide more options for guests of any age. You can take it as easy as you want or get as extreme as you like. You can find activities for a full weekend or a day with a diversity of experience that can entertain and/or challenge. We want to have folks come back and try more new things — we’re giving them more reasons to come back,” he said.
In choosing the attractions and relocating the summer base area (including the mountain bike center) to Snowshed, Joseph noted both the scenic location and the convenience. Centering the activities at Snowshed will energize the area and make it convenient for families and friends to meet up, he noted.
Expending energy means folks get hungry, and both the Food Court at Snowshed and the Peak Lodge will be open daily to accommodate big and little appetites.
Facilitating individual guest needs, most attractions are offered on a Day Pass as well as an a-la-carte basis. The Day Pass is $39 for ages 7+ and $15 for ages 6 and under. It includes three Skyerides, Skye Ropes Course, Terra Maze, and a round of disk golf with Snowshed lift ride. Options like disk golf, mountain biking, golf course, and K-1 Gondola offer season passes as well.
Attractions debuting June 26
The new year-round Skyeride features side-by-side seating for two and is 600-feet long, 100-feet high, and reaches a speed of 25-30 miles per hour. Riders 38″ to 54″ must ride with an adult; riders under 38″ are not permitted. The two-way ride loads and ends at the same platform and glides over a section of Snowshed Pond and through the trees for a scenic fun trip, Joseph said.
For awesome earthbound rides, ATV and Segway tours are being offered.
The ATV tours feature side-by-side seating on Polaris Razor vehicles with seatbelts and roll cages, noted Klaus Weirether. Weirether and his group of guides will lead tours for beginners to experts on easy to tough mountain terrain on one- or two-hour tours. The guided tours include how-to driving instruction and allow participants to drive or to ride as a passenger.
Learning to drive a Segway is another neat challenge for those 12 years and older (under 18 must have a parent along on the tour but can operate their own Segway).
Segway tours begin at Snowshed with video and instruction on how to operate the two-wheeled vehicles before going out on the mountain tour, which explores Ramshead and Snowshed work roads and trails. The two-hour guided tours are a fun way to explore the terrain — and test newly acquired driving skills that have a not-to-be-underestimated brain-balance component. Highly recommended for a new experience that puts you in the driver’s seat!
Another super fun way to up the adrenaline ante is to navigate the new Skye Ropes Course. At about 40 feet tall and with 42 obstacles to maneuver, daredevils, climbers, and thrill seekers are in for serious fun.
If you have never done a ropes course, this is the ultimate challenge — and for some of us, heart-stopper — as ropes provide a foot surface that constantly moves — daredevil heaven! Testing your ability to balance and withstand constant movement so high off the ground is definitely a novel experience.
Of course you are tethered into a safety harness so, at worse, if you fall it won’t be very far. Still tell that to your quivering self. Or just experience relief as you reach the steady platforms along the route!
The new Terra-Maze is located below the Skye Ropes Course and offers 5,000 square feet of on-the-ground exploration. The object of this search is to find the four check points that spell the word MAZE in the fastest time. The maze walls can be moved to create new routes throughout the summer, Joseph noted.
Roaring Brook Mining is a kid-friendly adventure, providing a delightful pastime as miners of all ages search for hidden gems by sifting for their treasures at the sluice.
Expansion of mountain bike park
Last year mountain biking was introduced on Snowshed terrain for newer riders and an introduction to the big mountain above. This season new mountain bike trails have been added on Snowshed, including a jump trail, Joseph said. Additionally, the Killington Sports Bike Shop was relocated to larger space in Snowshed Lodge and the fleet of Kona rentals was expanded to include new kid-sized Kona bikes and Scott adult models.
Coaster coming soon
The new custom designed Beast Mountain Coaster is scheduled to open in late July or early August.
Fans of roller coasters will find it loads of fun but with a twist as riders in two-seat, sled-type carts can control speed by braking or let it fly to its automatic maximum of 25-30 mph.
This coaster is unique as it is the only mountain coaster designed and manufactured by a U.S. company, Aquatic Development Group of Cohoes, N.Y. Joseph said the ADG team trained Killington workers at its coaster school for construction and workers are installing it with ADG assistance as needed.
The Beast Coaster has a 4,800-foot-long steel track that twists and turns through the woods and features exciting 360-degree corkscrews, banks, dips, zig-zags, and rollers. The experience will begin with a scenic ride up the mountain in the sled followed by a descent that dares you to be brave as you test your threshold for speed and G-forces. Two persons or one may ride the sleds. However, riders 36 to 52 inches tall must ride with an adult (anyone under 36 inches tall is not permitted).
It is only the second mountain coaster in the state. (The other is at Okemo which offers a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of track reaching speeds of 25 mph.)
In addition to the new features, activities introduced previously will continue. They include fishing, kayaking, stand-up-paddle boarding on Snowshed Pond and disk golf. The latter starts with a ride up the Snowshed Quad to the beginning of the course which loops over to K-1 Lodge and winds around Ramshead and ends back at the Snowshed Lodge.
Additionally, K-1 Gondola rides offer a way to view the scenery and access Killington Peak, the state’s second highest mountain, for yet another authentic adventure. A short hike to the rocky pinnacle offers a 360-degree views.
The first celebration of the new Snowshed Adventure Center will occur on July 3 when the area hosts the annual United Way Day. A media event will be held when the coaster opens, Joseph said.
He also noted that the Snowshed Adventure Center will provide activities that complement some of the special events held at the area and in town like the Wine Festival, giving families and friends more to do.
This positive summer synergy of events and new attractions will provide “a good engine for the local and state economy by drawing more people to the region’s significant lodging capacity,” commented Parker Riehle, president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association, who noted the growing popularity of ski resort adventure parks.
Courtesy of Killington Resort