I really have to agree with Rusty. I seriously always have to sort of laugh when people are like "Yeah we only go to Magic when it's a pow day- the rest of the time we like to stand in a lift line for half the day, ski glacial windswept and scraped-to-bedrock groomers with 6,000 of our closest friends at arm's length for 2x the cost."
I'm not trying to be insulting but it really does crack me up every time I hear it. So what if Magic only has like 6 trails to open with? Those trails are groomed with the same snow and groomers that Stratton uses- and with 5,800 less skiers on average to rip down then, not only are you skiing more than across the valley, but the trails don't get scraped off- go ahead, ski Trick at 3pm, you can lay GS the whole way down, because there's still fresh cord on the edges and luxurious, edgeable snow all the way down the gut. There are no crowds, and the trail/snow quality blows Stratton right out of the water. Whenever I go to Stratton I'm bored out of my skull an hour in and always disappointed with the quality of the groomers- when that's supposedly what they're so famous for! It's just so featureless, so steamrolled, so unendingly crushed by hordes and so... Well, canned. I feel like a rat in a maze when I go there and I don't like it, especially given the cost.
Honestly, what is it that people think they're getting at Okemo & Stratton that they aren't getting here? I seriously don't see it. They've been sold the idea of an activity as a substitute for a real activity on false pretense and it blows my mind. Is it really just that much cooler to go someplace your friends have heard of?? Trail count is just about the only thing you get over there, along with speedy lifts that you still wait 20 mins to ride (thus negating how fast they are), and even when you do get up them it's ALWAYS skied out, icy and overflowing with people so I have to question the "quality vs quantity"relationship at hand very seriously. I simply don't get it. Why do people save Magic for only pow days?? Yes it's awesome for that too and truly on another level when it's deep, but the real Magic secret these days seems to be how awesome it is when the pow isn't blowing. The new Magic has killer grooming, no crowds and better, more open steeps to bomb than anybody else around and that's a fact. You're doing yourself a massive disservice by not recognizing that.
I suppose if you're a scene skier, for sure uber-crowded McResorts are the way to go. Everyone will know where you went when you tag yourself on the deck for sure. If you actually want to ski wide open class A+ grooming without crowds and a prohibitive patrol though, there's only one place to go. Different strokes for different folks, but I have not one single idea why people spend so much money to ski in a crowd on blue ice. Ugh... Maybe Magic should develop an astronomically shittier product, charge double and then people would want to go there.
I guess I should probably comment since I am in the group that DoWork is mentioning, since Okemo is my home mountain.
I have gone to Magic 1-2 times a year (usually after a snowfall) and like it a lot. However, in leaner natural snow years (like this one), it is far harder for me to justify. I have a seasons pass to Okemo as well as access to nearby lodging, so my general theory is if I travel elsewhere, it is to get something (typically terrain) I cannot get at Okemo. At Okemo, I have access to an intermediate mountain (yes, there is some steeper stuff, but nothing that compares to Magic/Killington in So. VT and most No. VT mountains I have been to), so if I want to ski something I can get there, it is extremely hard to justify to myself traveling and spending more money elsewhere. When the fun (read advanced and expert terrain) isn't open at Magic, the major draw to the mountain (its terrain), is kind of gone. The atmosphere is great, but at that point I am paying a lift ticket price and an hour or so of driving and gas solely for the atmosphere and no longer the terrain.
That all being said, when the diamond and double diamond terrain is open I plan on definitely taking a trip or two to Magic, which is worth it for the terrain alone. When the terrain isn't open and I plan on going to another mountain for better terrain, I usually have to consider Killington or more likely Sugarbush. In short, reliability for the tougher terrain, which is where Magic has its niche in So. VT, would definitely get me there more often.