Zalaznick: What’s wrong with comparing Vail to Disney? |

Zalaznick: What’s wrong with comparing Vail to Disney?

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado

People who defend Vail against the old Disneyworld charge ” which is meant to be insulting, of course ” say the ski resort, like the mega-amusement park, excels in making tourists happy.

Which is a good thing.

They say Disney World and America’s No. 1 ski resort both command lifelong loyalty from their customers ” also a good thing.

What they don’t like is what the people ” who mean to be insulting when they call Vail the “Disney World of the ski industry” ” are really trying to say: That Vail is artificial, contrived, soulless, fraudulent, insatiably greedy.

A Bavarian village in the American West? Well, it’s about as believable as Epcot Center’s international extravaganza moldering in the middle of the Central Florida scrubland. Why Vail’s as lifelike as a giant mouse who sings and dances.

Vail’s just too fantastic and ivory tower for those salt-of-the-earth folks ” such as Oprah and Han Solo ” in blue-collar towns like Telluride and Jackson Hole. I mean, what would all those hardhats in Aspen do if the Ford factory ” or the Roaring Fork Institute for the Study of the Environment and Essential Oils ” shut its doors?

Yes, those who charge Vail with poserdom often come from residents of other relatively well-to-do ski areas, who bask glibly in the rusty glow of their towns’ actual history ” history meaning somebody probably dug some minerals out of their mountains a hundred or so years ago and left a bunch of pollution and corroded mine cars behind.

History in most resort towns means maybe someone famous and/or notorious passed through on a train, or did a little hunting in the area. For example, it’s well known that Alexander the Great is held responsible for exterminating Copper Mountain’s historic sasquatch herds.

These folks jab Vail for having been built solely for skiing, vacationing and spending. And they’re right ” Vail has no other purpose in the universe than for people to reserve hotel rooms and slide downhill on snow (and buy fur, jewelry and wine when they’re not on the mountain).

You may say “wait, there are locals in and around Vail!” Well, the locals are the ones who teach the visitors how to ski, sell them fur or arrest them when they’ve had too much wine.

OK, so maybe Vail Village is out of touch with the common man. I’ll admit that you never hear anyone strolling down Bridge Street saying, “Hey, this place is as pretty as Sandusky, Ohio, or Flint, Michigan!”

And none of Vail’s fancy restaurants have a NASCAR-theme night. We don’t have the world’s largest cheese curd or an International Museum of Fried Foods On a Stick.

But hey other ski towns, what makes mining such spectacular “history.” Mining’s the kind of behavior that may have made America great and powerful and ultra-convenient, but the intense consumption and utter neglect of the environment involved in digging stuff out of the earth is also responsible for our global warming predicament.

Why be so snooty about a background that’s kind of dirty? It’s not like the Mayflower landed in Whistler or the Declaration of Independence was signed in Winter Park.

Then again, the United States ” a toddler compared to China or Baghdad, historywise ” doesn’t have much to brag about when it comes to ancient culture and/or monuments. Lake Tahoe is not Rome and Steamboat Springs is not Egypt.

And in 100 years, Vail too will be enjoying the gloss of age, too, and residents will be able to turn up their noses at the newbies in Ginnturn, which, ironically, is built above an old mine, which means the resort that hasn’t been built yet also is more historic than Vail.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or

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