After 16 years of delays, legal battles, name changes, and financing issues the American Dream shopping and entertainment complex finally opens its doors in New Jersey on October 25, 2019. American Dream is more than just a regular shopping mall, it is a destination for tourists and locals alike to shop and be entertained with a variety of impressive attractions. The 3 million+ square foot complex is made up of 45% retail and 55% entertainment and attraction space. Retail stores that will open include Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M, while attractions include indoor versions of a ski slope, a theme park, and a water park. Located in East Rutherford, NJ, and just 5 miles from New York City, the mega-complex projects to attract 40 million visitors annually by a variety of transportation methods.
Shop, Play, and Dine at American Dream
Retail Stores at American Dream Mall
American Dream will feature the world’s premier retail brands including Barney’s New York, Hermes, Tiffany & Co, and Saks Fifth Avenue. The shopping mall section offers visitors a diverse and vast shopping experience, promising to engage consumers with eclectic brands. Over 450 retail shops will take residence in the complex, along with six anchor retail tenants. There will be twelve other major retailers, 339 smaller stores, and a large H Mart Asian-American supermarket. The trendy “It’s Sugar” candy store will also be located in the mall’s retail section.
Attractions and Entertainment at American Dream
Nickelodeon Theme Park
The Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park has over 20 rides and attractions that are appropriate for all ages. The park has two world-record breaking roller coasters, both using the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) theme. The TMNT “Shellraiser” is the world’s steepest roller coaster and the “Shredder” is the world’s tallest and longest spinning roller coaster. Nickelodeon’s most popular characters including SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora The Explorer will be interacting with guests in the park and will provide photo opportunities as well as meet-and-greets. Fans will not be able to have a “Disney style” private lunch at the Krusty Krab with Spongebob Squarepants himself, though Plankton’s Chum Bucket may have cornered the lunchtime market.
DreamWorks Water Park
American Dream features the newest and largest indoor waterpark in North America and is designed and operated by DreamWorks. There are an astounding 35 water slides and the waterpark also has the world’s largest indoor wave pool that measures an amazing 1.5 acres. Other water attractions include two surf machines (similar to the Flowrider), smaller water park attractions for young children (much like the Sesame Place Theme Park), a lazy river, and a swim-up bar for the adults. The two biggest attractions in the water park are the hydro-magnetic coaster and the 142-foot vertical body slide. Cabanas overlooking the water park will also be available for rental.
Big SNOW Indoor Snow Park
North America’s first indoor snow park, “Big SNOW” has an 800 ft. long ski run, which is over 16 stories tall. Lessons for adults and children are offered, as well as activities for families and corporate team building events. The snow park is built for skiers of all skill levels as the snow can be shaped for different experiences, but the ski run is quite short. In comparison, the indoor ski run at the Dubai shopping mall is 1312 feet long and even that is not the world’s longest indoor ski run. To make up for the relatively short run, this snow park will have lots of rails, boxes, burms, splines, jumps and inflatable landings to allow skiers and snowboarders of all levels to practice park trick tricks and big air jumps. For the skiers, there is a small mogul run and some slalom courses. Unfortunately, the limited space prohibits the snow park from installing a permanent “Crashed Ice” course. The park will also have chalet style lodges for dining and hot cocoa rest options.
Additional attractions at the American Dream include: KidZania, an NHL sized Ice Rink, CMX Luxury Movie Theater, 300 foot Observation Wheel, SEA LIFE Aquarium, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Climbzone, Mirror Maze, and the NJ Hall of Fame. There are two mini golf courses also: Angry Birds Mini Golf and Blacklight Mini Golf. There are some reports of Lucky Strike Bowling and other attractions coming to the complex, however many of these rumors are unfounded.
Dining at American Dream
With over 100 different dining options, American Dream is sure to satisfy. Whether you are looking for grab-n-go options or a more traditional sit down meal it does not matter. American Dream offers over 20 full-service restaurants, the world’s first and only MUNCHIES Food Hall with 18 local and regional food vendors, Coca-Cola Eats, a large multi-vendor food court, and even the first strictly kosher food hall in a retail and entertainment center in North America.
History of American Dream
In 1996, the Mills Corporation proposed a plan to build a mall in the wetlands of Northern New Jersey, however due to the potentially negative environmental impact the proposal was denied by the state. In 2002 the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) requested a proposal for a project to be built next to the Continental Airlines Arena. Although many proposals were sent in, the NJSEA chose the “Xanadu” project proposed by the partnership between the Mills Corporation and the Mack-Cali Realty Corporation. The consortium broke ground on the project in 2004 and was expected to be completed in 2006. The project, however, was then bought from the Mills Corp. by Colony Capital in late 2006 when the originators ran out of money.
Construction continued through 2008, and the structure was most noted for its horrendously colorful exterior. Construction was nearly complete in 2009 until Lehman Brothers, one of the project’s financial backers, went bankrupt and started missing payments. This started a chain reaction of lenders and retailers withdrawing from the project. By mid-2010, Colony Capital gave up control of the project, and it was ultimately left in limbo until a new investor was found.
It was not until April of 2011 that a new lender was found. Triple Five Group, owners of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN took ownership over the site and renamed it “American Dream Meadowlands”. The group aimed to finish the project by 2014 so it could open with the NFL Super Bowl in town, but due to more legal issues, the site construction was on-and-off until 2017. In mid-2017 construction resumed and then would continue without delay until the mall’s opening date in 2019. With Triple Five still owning the mall, they managed to get big brands like Nickelodeon and DreamWorks to occupy the indoor theme park and water park respectively. On July 3, 2019 it was announced that mall’s opening date would be October 25, 2019 just in time for the New York area holiday season.
What Was Not Yet Delivered:
Cirque du Soleil
Like many other attractions, Cirque du Soleil was going to have a permanent show in American Dream but ultimately backed out. In 2015, it was announced that the company would have a permanent live performance theatre space in the mega-complex. Due to the volatility of the project and the constant nature of designs and lenders backing out of the project, Cirque du Soleil decided that it was too risky for them to take a permanent residency in the mall and they exited the project For more information on the Cirque du Soleil and American Dream deal click here
American Dream Hotel
Despite having a huge amount of space available, there is no local hotel to actually stay at. This means that all customers will have to arrive by car or by public transportation each day, which will pose a challenge at busy times. The hotel is expected to be built in phase 2, but hotel developers are waiting to see what happens at the phase 1 launch before committing to building at this mega complex.
Transportation to American Dream
Due to its location and close proximity to New York City, American Dream can be reached via car or public transportation. The complex has 33,000 parking spaces for guests, and is located right off of the NJ Turnpike. For those who prefer public transportation there is a NJ Transit bus hub and a NJ Transit train station on-site. American Dream will also provide shuttles for those take the NY Waterway ferry to Weehawken. A taxi and ride-share hub will also be on-site. With an anticipated average of 110,000 visitors per day and only 30,000 parking spaces, the math does not seem to add up, however, there may be additional parking next door at MetLife Stadium. It is also not expected that all of the complex’s patrons will come via car. American Dream is expected to see large crowds during the busy holiday times, but it is unknown how the mall will handle the influx of people.