I honestly think opening a main lift an hour early for people is overall better. Could you get 100 people to pony up $50 on Saturday's/Sunday's for early access? Maybe. That'd be more acceptable to most people, IMO. You get an hour of being special with an uncrowded lift, first tracks, and a few dozen people on the trails...then you're mixed in with the unwashed masses once the opening bell rings. Cons would be you need to pay lifties that additional hour, grooming has to be done and patrol has to do the opening sweep in whatever area is opening early. But now you're selling an upcharged, unique experience... not a line cutting tool a la Six Flags or Disney. The phrase "Upcharged, unique experience" makes any ski resort marketer jizz themselves (or any form of entertainment, for that matter).
That's essentially what Sugarbush does with their "Early Ups" program. It is an add-on to your season pass that costs an extra $300-400 or something like that. You get to access the Super Bravo chair 30 minutes before everyone else on weekends and holidays (7:30 vs 8:00). (You also basically ensure yourself being first in line for Heaven's Gate when that opens since SB and HG both open to the public at 8am, but the general public needs to ride SB before they can get to HG).