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Winter Park Eyes Beginner-Focused Lift Upgrades

Winter Park Resort is seeking Forest Service approval for a major revamp of the Discovery Park learning zone. The project, contemplated in the 2022 master plan, has four major lift components. First the Gemini Express would be replaced by a 10 passenger gondola, allowing beginner guests to upload and download as foot passengers. The 2,400 foot long gondola would start closer to the Village at Winter Park than Gemini and unload at a new children’s ski school building, where a variety of conveyor lifts are planned. The new gondola will be a workhorse capable of carrying 3,600 passengers per hour. One reason for such high capacity is this gondola could eventually become the third section of a town-to-village gondola long envisioned as a way to reduce traffic.

Once new skiers and riders are ready to progress to chairlifts, two new options will sit near the learning center. The current Endeavour triple will be replaced by a 2,400 pph detachable quad in a shorter alignment. The Discovery double will be upgraded from a double to a short fixed grip quad carrying 1,600 skiers per hour.

The final component of the plan is a new Cooper Creek six pack. This 2,700 foot long lift would load below the bottom of Olympia Express and rise 365 feet to the Cooper Creek Summit, carrying 2,800 guests per hour. Five new beginner trails would be constructed with new snowmaking throughout. As part of the project, the aging Looking Glass double would be removed. All told Winter Park would retire four chairlifts dating back to 1966, 1984 and 1993, replacing them with three new chairlifts and a gondola.

The Forest Service is preparing an Environmental Assessment and welcomes public comments. The agency expects to publish a decision in the first quarter of 2025 and construction could begin next summer.

Article by Peter Landsman

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