Don’t call it a mall.
Triple Five Group, developer of the $5 billion American Dream at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, wants the attraction next to Giants stadium known as an “entertainment center.” And, by golly, is it wildly entertaining.
While the center’s Nickelodeon Universe theme park opened Oct. 25 to sold-out crowds, remaining attractions will be rolled out over the next few months. The entire project is expected to be complete in March 2020, when hundreds of retailers like Dior and Gucci plan to open their doors.
Over the past decade and a half, the space has changed ownership twice.
Once rendered with a colorful facade, it was dubbed Xanadu. Now, the exterior is a crisp white with enormous windows and skylights.
Triple Five’s Ghermezian family executes its vision for the 3 million interior square feet on a grand scale — 50- to 100-foot-plus ceilings, “rooms” and courtyards that seem to run forever and corridors designed to handle crowds.
The Ghermezians cut their teeth on Minnesota’s Mall of America, which attracts 40 million visitors a year, and the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which attracts 30.8 million. American Dream has a parking lot for 33,000 cars, plus a new bus from the Port Authority for $9 each way. A ferry-to-bus connection ($16 each way) is meant to lure carless Manhattanites across the Hudson.
Nickelodeon Universe — which the largest indoor amusement park in the world — has a bright orange blimp dripping with green slime that hovers above its 33 coasters and kiddie rides.
Whimsical attractions involve strapping into pink jellyfish for SpongeBob’s Jellyfish Jam, hopping aboard Dora’s Sky Railway and buckling into Blaze’s Monster Truck Rally.
Forget carousel horses. Instead, there’s a Rugrats Reptar merry-go-round featuring the green dinosaur, plus a Paw Patrol-themed Ferris wheel and flying Blues Clues pups that kiddos can control with on-board buttons.
For tweens, teens and kids at heart, there are the thrill rides: the Shredder, the Shellraiser and the Skyline Scream. Every attraction is color-coded: Purple for the world’s longest, tallest free-spinning coaster (the Shredder), green for the steepest roller coaster in the world (the Shellraiser) and orange for any ride that’s family-friendly (read: less scary).
If you prefer water drops to roller coaster dips, head to DreamWorks Water Park across the central lobby. Slated to open on Nov. 27, life’s a beach here — literally. Paneled glass removes UV rays but doesn’t block all of them, so pack your sunscreen.
Here, visitors will find enormous blue pools and twisty pink and orange slides, including the world’s highest indoor slide with a 142-foot drop. There will also be the option to reserve an upstairs cabana or take a break at a swim-up bar or the circular restaurant cantilevered over the pools.
Themed private parties are also available.
American Dream visitors can also bundle up to hit the ice or the slopes. A covered regulation ice hockey rink that’s aleady open will double as a venue for concerts and soccer tournaments. And by opening day on Dec. 5, snowmaking machines will have powdered up Big Snow’s hills. North America’s only indoor ski mountain will have a four-seater lift, shops that look like alpine chalets, fireplaces, rentals and lessons 365 days a year along with a seasonal Santa Claus.
Dining options abound, including a Hard Rock Cafe, Vice Media’s “Munchies” food hall and a kosher food court. An IT’SUGAR candy store will be three stories tall.
In March, Merlin Entertainment’s Legoland Discovery Center and Sea Life Aquarium will open their doors. The 1,500-seat KidZania performing arts center and a CMX luxury movie theater are also forthcoming. Two mini-golf courses, themed around Angry Birds and black lights, respectively, are also on the way.
A 55-foot-high sculpture called “Albero dei Sogni,” or “Tree of Dreams,” towers above the Secret Garden Court. Similar to one at Burning Man, it boasts 75,000 LED lights that can be controlled by visitors using the American Dream app.
Babysitting is also available at the venue — the American dream, indeed.