Just came across this thread. It's maybe too late, but I would suggest you try snowheads.com - it's a similar forum to this but based in Europe and a lot of snowheads live/work in the resorts
I don't know if you intend to do Chamonix from Vallorcine, but if you don't can I suggest les Contamines as an alternative. It's only an hour by coach from Geneva Airport and is much bigger than Vallorcine. It doesn't link into any other big resorts, but there is plenty to keep you entertained for a couple of days (see powderhounds.org.uk & follow the french flag). St Gervais is just down the valley and the Etoile de la Savoie (http://www.ski-montblanc.com/EtoileChalet.htm
) is a catered chalet there that seems to do short breaks and Norman & Anna will also arrange to get you to them from GVA. Never stayed with them as things turned out, but was in touch and they seem very friendly & keen to help (although Norman is Irish too).
Another word of caution is the French hotel rating system - it's generous, 2* is very basic & I would be prepared for a shock if you're in a dorm.
There are a number of companies that specialise in transport from GVA to the french resorts Transfer intelligence is one, but a quick google should help get more. There are also regular buses to bigger resorts like Morzine so they may be easier to get to than smaller places.
We're off to Les Gets in two weeks. It is beside Morzine and the bus will stop there on the way through. Again worth a look, especially on snowheads.
There aren't really discount ticket deals like you have in the US - just buy online from the lift company, or turn up at the lift on the day. Equipment rental should be plentiful in a resort of any size. Sport 2000 is a europe-wide chain that can be relied on to provide reasonable gear.
Hope this helps, but whatever you do the early snow seems great - enjoy!