L to R: Olympians Donna Weinbrecht, Red Gerrard, Kelly Clark and Lindsey Vonn; photo by American Dream

After more than 15 years of anticipation, the indoor snow park at American Dream in East Rutherford is finally open. Big SNOW, an 180,000-square-foot attraction, boasts four skiable acres of winter fun that’s open all year, even in the summer. Here’s what we love most about this epic snow park.

Big SNOW Never Closes

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At the grand kickoff today, SNOW Operating’s owner Joe Hession wished the crowd a happy opening day. “We only have one day in our history that we’re going to be saying it, because we never close,” continued Hession. Thanks to special floors and a hi-tech snow production system, you can make some serious powder all year round no matter the season. It’s the first and only facility of its kind in North America.

“I can’t believe what these guys have created,” said Don Ghermezian, CEO of American Dream. “The next coolest entertainment concept in the state of New Jersey, in the United States. We’re going to continue to grow and get bigger and better.”

There’s Way More To Do Than Ski

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Big SNOW offers beginners and pros alike a chance to take on a variety of winter activities and sports. There’s a 16-story slope (gondolas will take you to the top) and a 160-foot vertical drop to conquer if you’re a skier. Snowboarders can soar down half pipes, ramps, rails and more on the freestyle terrain section of the park. For kids who haven’t quite gotten their snow legs yet, extensive intro lessons, private coaching and kids’ programs will soon be available.

It’s Great for Kids (and Beginners)

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If you’ve tried taking the kids to a big outdoor mountain resort before, you know how hard it can be to keep track of them. With so many trails and slopes, it’s easy for kids to wander away and get lost. At Big SNOW, you have a lot less ground to cover. The park is vast but compact, and everything is pretty centrally located.

Kids five and under can get comfortable indoors before hitting the snow at Burton’s Riglet Snowboarding. Mini boards and ramps are available there to practice balancing and moving on solid ground. If your kid just wants to have a sports-free snow day, odds are they’ll be sticking to the Big SNOW Play Area. It’s closest to the entrance and has a carpet lift the kids can take up to the top. Here, they can go wild in the flurries without ever having to brave a bunny hill.

The attraction’s bunny hill, the Lil’ Dipper, is where shredders who are just starting out can learn to keep their balance and make their first moves on the mountain. If your kid wants to snowboard, hit the mini pipe instead. The kids can also meet Big, the Yeti-like friendly mascot of the park, and take a photo with Santa during the holiday season.

This spot is great for grown-up beginners, too. Even if your family has never stepped foot on a ski resort, equipment, apparel and gear rentals make it so easy to hit the slopes. “Our plan is to give guests everything they need to have their first ski or snowboard experience, so they can arrive in flip-flops and shorts and we provide all the clothing and gear they need to enjoy a day on snow,” Hugh Reynolds, VP of marketing and sales at SNOW Operating, told New Jersey Family last year.

The Snow Is Real

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SNOW Operating works to grow interest in skiing and snowboarding at more than 40 resorts around the world, including Vernon’s Mountain Creek and, of course, Big SNOW America. And its equipment is no joke: The park can make 1,100 gallons of snow per hour, and is filled with a whopping 5,500 tons of it.

Using high-pressure air and a fine mist of water, SNOW Operating makes snow the same way it’s made in nature. The temperature of the space is controlled through air conditioning and a glycol cooling system, so as the mist droplets fall, they freeze and turn to snow. It stays fresh with a special cooling floor and a snow melt system that recycles melted runoff into new snow, and the entire park is kept at a chilly 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Because our center will stay at a consistent temperature and we have the ability to control the humidity of the air, snow quality within the center will be very good,” Reynolds told us. “Similar to a cold, crisp day of outdoor skiing. The kind when the snow squeaks under your feet.”

OMG the Hot Cocoa!

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After a full day on the slopes, you and the kids will want to warm up at Joe C.’s Gourmet Cocoa, located on the right upon entering the snow area. Hot chocolates include S’mores with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, mini marshmallows, graham cracker and a toasted marshmallow skewer, and the Picante, spicy cocoa served with a churro, whipped cream and dried chile. Joe C.’s also sells Waffle Wands, too. Dessert fiends will love the Unicorn Horn, topped with whipped cream, caramel, Fruity Pebbles, marshmallow fluff and rainbow sprinkles.

Get Your Tickets

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Your family can either get a Slope Access Ticket or the SNOW Day All-Inclusive Package. The Slope Access pass is $29.99 plus tax and gets you two hours on the snow. With the all-inclusive package, you’ll get rentals, helmets, outerwear, slope tix and a free intro lesson for $49.99 plus tax per person (the retail price is $69.99 so you’ll save by buying online). You can also get a 3-Day Package valid for three anytime visits for $149.99 plus tax.

The park will be open from 10 am-10 pm daily all year, so the kids will have plenty of chances to catch some air.