A Whistler Season Pass

Does It Make "Cents" For You?

"How many days per season would I have to ski before it makes sense to buy a Whistler season pass?"

It seems I revisit this question each year when it comes time to renew my Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card and I'm dreaming about someday getting 30 or more days on the mountain in a season.

I mean, who wouldn't want to get up here...

View from Blackcomb Mountain above Rendezvous Lodge Dad and the boys, top of Jersey Cream Chairlift, Blackcomb Mountain

as many times as they want each winter without having to worry about going here first each time they arrive at the mountain...

Whistler ticket window circa 2008 Whistler Blackcomb ticket window circa 2008 (and yes, the prices have gone up since then!)

So, back to my original question...

"How many days on the mountains does it take to make it financially beneficial to buy a Whistler seasons pass?" Well, although there is not a "definitive" answer (it depends on your age, when exactly you ski/ride, and how you buy your lift tickets, among other factors), with a little number crunching and a few assumptions we can certainly arrive at an educated guess.

Our Family's First Whistler Season Pass

The 2011/2012 season marked a bit of a milestone in our family as our oldest boy Callum (he's 11) was the first of our clan to get a Whistler Blackcomb season pass. Here he is with his younger brother enjoying his first day of the season (mid December) with his new pass on Blackcomb Mountain.

Callum's first day on Blackcomb with his Whistler season pass Callum on Blackcomb Mountain enjoying his first day of skiing using his Whistler Blackcomb season pass. Lucky for us, his brother is still young enough to ski for free!

Why a season pass for our son and not us? Well, our family drives up from Vancouver and skis about 10 to 12 days per winter. When we crunched the numbers, a season pass was the best bet for my son, but not for my wife and me.

Are you curious if it makes sense for you or someone in your family to purchase a Whistler season pass?

Alright then, let's take a closer look at Whistler Blackcomb season pass prices for the different age groups, look at the alternative Whistler ticket options available, and try and come up with the "magic number" of ski days it takes to make a season pass make "cents".

**Note: The following prices have been updated for the 2012/2013 season and do not include any applicable taxes (add 12%).

Adult (19-64) Whistler Season Pass

Adult Whistler season pass pricing chart
  1. Midweek Whistler Blackcomb Season Passes are valid Monday to Friday, except from December 27-30
  2. Whistler Parent Passes can be shared between two parents and must be purchased along with a Child Season Pass, a Tot Pass or a Whistler Kids Program Pass
Magic Number: 20 Days

I calculated this "magic number" as follows: I subtracted the price of a 10-day edge card ($599 if purchased before the first week of May for the following season) from the lowest season pass price of $1,249. This leaves $650. Then I divided $650 by $83 (the discounted cost to ski/ride per day during regular season after the pre-loaded days are used up on the edge card). This gives us the number 7.8 (let's call it 8). In other words, if you skied 8 more days after your edge card ran out you would end up paying roughly the same amount as you would have if you had purchased a Whistler season pass.

But wait a second you say, wouldn't the magic number of days be 19, not 20? Well, with the 10 day edge card you get a free early season (before December 21) day included making it an "11" day edge card in reality. Hence the "20 day" magic number.

Seasons Pass For Seniors (65+)

Whistler season pass pricing for seniors
  1. Midweek Whistler Blackcomb Passes are valid Monday to Friday, except from December 27-30
Magic Number: 15 Days

A similar calculation to the one used for the adult season pass was used to calculate this "senior magic number" as well.

Student (17-29) Whistler Season Pass

Whistler season pass pricing for students ages 17 to 29
  1. Valid everyday during ski season except Dec 27-30
Magic Number (19-29 years old): 9 Days

To calculate this magic number I subtracted the cost of a 5 day early bird adult edge card  ($335) from the early bird student season pass price ($469) which leaves $134. I then divided the $134 by $83 (cost of skiing or snowboarding extra day) which is about 2 days of skiing. Add the free early season day you get with the edge card and you are up to 8 days to break even. Therefore, your 9th day and onward on the slopes is clear sailing.

Magic Number (17-18 years old): 10 Days

This number was calculated the same way as the magic number for the 19-29 year olds, but using "youth" edge card pricing (which is cheaper) rather than adult pricing.

Restrictions:  in order to qualify for this Whistler season pass you must meet the following criteria:
  • you must be between the ages of 17 and 29 when you apply
  • you must be a full-time student (3 or more courses) at a post secondary school located in either Canada, Washington State or the state of Oregon.
  • you must show a copy of your current course curriculum along with valid student and government identification when you pick up your pass
  • you must apply online
  • passes are non-transferable

Youth (13-18) Season Pass

Youth -  Whistler season pass pricing chart

Magic Number: 13 Days

A similar calculation to the one used for the adult season pass was used to calculate this "youth magic number" as well. And if you are 17 or 18 and a full time post secondary student, you may want to look into a student season pass to save a couple of hundred dollars. (see above)

Child (7-12) Whistler Season Pass

Whistler season pass pricing chart for children

Magic Number: 12 Days

To arrive at this "magic number" I subtracted the price of a 10-day edge card ($299 before first week of May for next season) from the price of the season pass ($339) which leaves $39. The discounted cost per day to ski after the pre-loaded 10 days is $43 during the regular season. But like the adult 10 day Whistler edge card, it comes with a free early season day, effectively giving you 11 days of skiing for the 10 day price. Therefore, the magic number becomes 12.

Child (6 and under) Season Pass

Children under 7 years old ski and ride free all season. However, they must still have a ticket in order to get onto the lifts (likely for insurance reasons). The daily lift tickets are free from any ticket window and if you are going to be on the mountain for consecutive days you can get a multi day ticket. This saves you going back to the ticket window each day.

Alternatively you can buy a "Tot Pass" for $15, which is like a Whistler season pass for little ones. Again, this just saves you the hassle of going to the ticket window every time your child heads to the mountain.

Whistler Summertime (Peak 2 Peak) Season Pass

If you do choose to purchase a Whistler season pass in order to take advantage of unlimited skiing and riding during the winter, then you can also ride the lifts on Whistler and Blackcomb (and the Peak 2 Peak in between) for free all summer. Otherwise, prices are as follows:

Summer Peak 2 Peak season pass pricing chart

Further Discounting Your Family's Whistler Season Passes

Our family's goal is to "someday" be skiing enough days each season so that a Whistler season pass makes sense for everyone in our clan. And the 10% family discount will help us get there sooner. How does this work? Simply purchase an adult or senior season pass along with either a youth or children's season pass and you get a 10% discount on both passes. This will help knock a few days off the "magic numbers" above. Here's to hoping that I can take advantage of this before I'm old enough to qualify for a senior pass.

Other Benefits Of A Whistler Season Pass

In addition to unlimited days of riding and/or skiing during ski season, the Whistler season pass offers many other perks and privileges to those who purchase one. Here are a few samples of these bonuses:

  • 20% off on food at the on-mountain restaurants
  • 2 for 1 Fresh Tracks Breakfasts
  • 50% off at the tube park
  • up to 65% off on ski and snowboard lessons
  • 10 to 20% off at certain retail shops in Whistler BC
  • free lift access in the summer for sightseeing
  • $100 off at Whistler Heli Skiing
And those are just a few of the perks that are available.

Did You Find Your Whistler Season Pass "Magic Number"?

So what's your "magic number" for a seasons pass at Whistler Blackcomb? Not quite there yet? Well don't give up! We're not...

Callum's first day on Blackcomb with his Whistler season pass "The Boys" heading down Blackcomb Mountain after another awesome day of sun and snow.

Want to make sure you end up with the perfect Whistler lift tickets this season? Take a ride on our Whistler Lift Ticket Wizard.

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