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Dade City alpine park Snowcat Ridge opens Nov. 10

The winter theme park with a tubing hill and snow play area spent $4.5 million in upgrades, including adding a new ice rink.
Visitors gather at the Snowcat Ridge alpine snow park entrance for the grand opening in 2020 in Dade City. The park has spent $4.5 million in upgrades since then, including adding a new ice skating rink.
Visitors gather at the Snowcat Ridge alpine snow park entrance for the grand opening in 2020 in Dade City. The park has spent $4.5 million in upgrades since then, including adding a new ice skating rink. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 27
Updated Oct. 28

After a rocky debut season, Dade City’s Snowcat Ridge, which markets itself as Florida’s first and only alpine snow park, will open Nov. 10 with an added ice rink, private igloos for rent and upgraded food options.

The winter theme park plans to stay open through March 27. It closed early in January, it said, to focus on upgrades. They spent $4.5 million on the improvements, said Jon Pianki, the park’s marketing director. That’s on top of spending close to $7 million to build the park the year before.

Related: 10 things to do with kids around Tampa Bay in November

The park has expanded its 400-foot-long snow tubing hill to add more lanes, and the 10,000-square-foot Arctic Igloo indoor snow play area will have 100,000 pounds of snow created daily.

The park’s new ice rink, known as Crystal Ribbon, is an outdoor skating rink with a beginner’s oval. Tickets for the park include two hours on the tubing hill and all-day access to the skating rink, though skates are not provided. Customers may bring their own or rent them for $9.95.

Visitors slide down the snowy slopes at Snowcat Ridge in Dade City in 2020. The park added more lanes to the tubing hill.
Visitors slide down the snowy slopes at Snowcat Ridge in Dade City in 2020. The park added more lanes to the tubing hill. [ Tribune News Service ]

Eskimo Outpost, located near the park’s Snowy Slopes, will include eight private igloos with fire pits that can accommodate up to 20 people each. Igloo rentals start at $149.

The park was a bigger hit than they anticipated when it opened last November. Within days, they started running out of snow and had to adjust days and hours of operation to have time to produce more.

Related: A Colorado native reviews a Florida snow hill

Less than a month after opening, Snowcat Ridge was shut down by Pasco County inspectors who said the park had failed to obtain required permits and that there were safety issues such as exposed electrical boxes.

The snow park was able to fix the issues and reopen within a day. This time, Pianki said, “we have been in close contact with Pasco County and I have no doubt we will have all our permits in place.”

The park has hired 160 people, which will likely rise to 300 by the end of the year, Pianki said.

There are extended queue lines to allow for distancing, and unvaccinated visitors are asked to wear a mask.

It’s kind of ironic that people up North are dreading the snow and looking to head to Florida, while his company is spending millions to make a 40-degree snow play area because Florida residents had a blast.

“Next year’s attraction is you get to shovel snow for fun,” he joked. “You want to clear a driveway or sidewalk? A driveway is $10, a sidewalk is $5. They might just do it.”

If you go

Snowcat Ridge: The alpine snow park features a 400-foot-long snow tubing hill, ice skating and snow to play in. Alpine Village features vendors selling crafts, food and drink.

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When: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 10 to March 27.

Where: 27839 Saint Joe Road, Dade City. 813-576-1450. snowcatridge.com.

Admission: All-day tickets start at $26.95. Ice skates can be rented for $9.95. Parking is $15.