By Kellen M. Quigley

Looking for something that’s fun for everyone and all you have to do is sit down, hang on and experience the exhilaration of pure winter fun?

There’s no better way to celebrate the first day of winter and the start of the school recess than by spending the afternoon at Holiday Valley Tubing Co. on its opening day this Friday, weather permitting.

This tubing park is located on Route 242, just a five-minute drive from downtown Ellicottville.

“We’ve got enough snow made over there,” said Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director at Holiday Valley. “We won’t have all 22 lanes, but a lot of lanes open, weather permitting.”

The snow tubing park offers up to 22 lanes that are a 100-foot drop down tracks 900 feet long. Along with single-width lanes are three group lanes for linking up with friends and experiencing the thrill together.

New this season, the old handle tow has been replaced with a brand new conveyor lift. The lift passed inspection from New York State Tuesday, Eshbaugh said. Just grab your tube, step on and away you go up to the top.

“It increases the capacity of the lift, so more people can get more rides when you go up there,” she said.

Additionally, three state-of-the-art HKD fan guns and six new HKD tower guns have been installed for making more snow in a shorter time frame, using less energy. Holiday Valley received a grant from the state to purchase the fan guns, Eshbaugh said.

“We started making a good amount of snow a while ago,” she added.

For children under 7, a special Little Tubers area is available, weather permitting. A cozy warming hut is at the base of the hill with a snack bar, fireplace and restrooms. Or you can warm up and rest outside at the giant bonfire pit.

Eshbaugh said the tubing park is great for everyone, regardless of athletic ability or fitness level.

“Sometimes people come to visit and not everyone in the group skis or snowboards, or some local people aren’t interested in skiing or snowboarding and just want to get outside and have some fun,” she said.

The Holiday Valley Tubing Company is located on the corner of Rt. 242 and Bryant Hill Road, just 4 miles from Holiday Valley. A free shuttle service to and from Holiday Valley is available every two hours during operating hours. Pickup is at the Resort Services Center.

Tubing season is Dec. 21, 2018 through March 24, 2019, weather permitting. Hours of operation are Thursdays and Fridays from 4:30 to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The park is also open during Christmas and New Years break as well as Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day week and Spring Break week.

For more information, visit holidayvalley.com or call 716-699-TUBE.

ALSO OPENING Friday is Holiday Valley’s Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster near the Tannenbaum Lodge. Suit up in your warmest snow gear and get ready for a thrilling ride down through the snowy woods.

The Mountain Coaster is similar to a roller coaster, but it is low to the ground and follows the contours of the terrain. Coster riders can go alone or with a friend in a “car” attached to rails that pulls you up the hill, then it follows a zigzagging spiraling path down the mountain.

The uphill, 1865-foot-long track has a vertical rise of nearly 300 feet and the downhill track consists of 15 curves of varying length, 12 waves, one jump and a large spiral.

Whether you enjoy a fast thrill or a leisurely trip through the woods, you can control the speed of your car with levers on the sides of it. The overall ride is nearly a mile long and takes about 6 minutes.

Children must be at least 3 years old and over 38 inches tall barefoot to ride with an adult, or 8 years and 54 inches tall to ride alone. The driver of a two-person car must be at least 16 years old. Riders must be able to perform certain physical tasks to participate.

The Mountain Coaster operates during the winter season from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, plus holidays, weather permitting.

The Coaster will through mid-March as well as during breaks for Christmas and New Years, Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

For more information, visit holidayvalley.com.