Only Nickelodeon Theme Park, Ice Rink Set to Debut at New Jersey Mega Complex Next Month, Developer Says
American Dream, the massive entertainment and shopping complex in New Jersey that officials hope will become an economic driver for the region, won’t be opening most of its retail attractions until next spring, roughly five months after the destination’s expected debut next month.
The announcement details what amounts to another delay for the closely watched $5 billion mega project that has undergone setbacks dating back more than a decade. Canadian developer Triple Five Worldwide said only the indoor Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and NHL regulation-sized ice rink will open to the public at the 3 million-square-foot mall on Oct. 25 in East Rutherford.
American Dream is 55% entertainment and 45% retail, and its use of experiential elements is being considered by real estate developers and retailers as a potential model for how brick-and-mortar stores can compete with online shopping alternatives. The complex is an evolution of a development started roughly 16 years ago.
The project has come to represent a test of whether Triple Five can repeat the success of its current crown jewels, Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, the two largest entertainment and retail venues in North America.
In a statement, Triple Five said the date will mark “Chapter 1: Chills and Thrills” for American Dream, with the premiere of North America’s largest indoor theme park, the Nickelodeon venue. But shoppers and diners will have to wait until March next year to patronize most of the stores and restaurants, which will open as part of American Dream’s “Chapter 4: In Grand Style.”
At that time next spring, Triple Five said more than 350 stores, from upscale brands Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent and Moncler, to iconic specialty retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., plus fast fashion chains Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and Primark, will open at American Dream. Retailers such as Hermes are part of the mall’s luxury wing, called The Collections.
In addition to the stores, the fourth and final “chapter” in American’s Dream rollout will include the opening of 100 dining options, from full service eateries to more casual options. A bevy of entertainment offerings are also scheduled to open their doors in March, including Merlin Entertainments’ Sea Life Aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center, a CMX luxury movie theater, interactive play experience KidZania and a 300-foot Ferris wheel.
At one point, Triple Five said the complex would open in March this year. But in May, the developer said it would open in phases starting in the fall. In July, an official Oct. 25 opening date was unveiled. Last month, Women’s Wear Daily reported that the luxury wing wouldn’t be opening until next March. Friday’s announcement marks the first time Triple Five has provided details about when specific components of American Dream will debut.
The mall’s second big entertainment offering, the enclosed DreamWorks Water Park, is scheduled to open Nov. 27 as part of the complex’s so-called second chapter, “Make a Splash.” And what’s billed as North America’s only indoor snow park for skiing and snowboarding, Big Snow, will open Dec. 5 as part of “Chapter 3: Every Day is a Snow Day.” The attraction will feature The Shops at Big Snow, which Triple Five described as a “retail environment that is truly experiential.”
The ice rink is adjacent to some restaurants and shops, but American Dream didn’t mention them in its announcement or say whether they will be open Oct. 25. Triple Five officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The Nickelodeon amusement park features more than 35 rides and attractions, including roller coasters Skyline Scream and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed Shredder and Shellraiser.
DreamWorks Water Park will have more than 40 water slides and 15 other attractions, from surfing to a lazy river. It will offer a 1.5-acre wave pool, the world’s largest, as well as the world’s tallest indoor body slide, which has a 142-foot drop. The park is planning 31 luxury cabanas designed by New Jersey native Jonathan Adler.