This fall, a new retail emporium is set to open its doors less than five miles from New York City’s epicenter.
The American Dream mall in East Rutherford, N.J., has been nearly 20 years in the making, featuring about three million square feet of shopping, entertainment and dining space.
But the draws aren’t just its museum-scale interiors, luxury anchor stores and hundreds of culinary options. The mega-mall is expected to house a crossover of experiential elements and Instagram-worthy attractions, including a Ferris wheel overlooking the Manhattan skyline, an indoor snow park and even a 60-foot fountain that can transform into a fashion runway.
“[The American Dream] is revolutionizing retail in many ways because it’s not just about shopping,” said Ken Downing, chief creative officer of the mall’s developers, Triple Five Group. “Beyond being a shopping center, we actually really see ourselves as being a community of inclusivity, diversity and very much like a neighborhood because of its size.”
Here’s what to expect ahead of the retail project’s grand opening.
An arcade-style gastropub and live-music venue
Courtesy of Lucky Strike Entertainment, an immersive arcade-style gastropub called For The Win is opening at the American Dream, offering different cuisines and libations. The entertainment space will also include bowling and live music, occupying a 22,000-square-foot space.
Not one, but two roller coasters at the Nickelodeon Universe theme park
State-of-the-art attractions are expected at the Nickelodeon Universe, dubbed by the developer as the largest indoor theme park in the western hemisphere at 8.5 acres. Among them are themed SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rides, as well as live shows, games and party rooms. Also joining the roster are two record-breaking roller coasters: the Shellraiser, with the steepest roller coaster drop, and the Shredder Coaster, or the world’s tallest and longest free-spinning roller coaster. (The park will have a total of four roller coasters.)
The first Angry Birds mini-golf attraction in North America
Inspired by The Angry Birds Movie 2, the 18-hole indoor course takes visitors through Bird Island, Pig Island and Eagle Island adventures, with characters including Red, Chuck and the Pigs rendered in 3D form. The golf balls will also be designed to look like the birds, while putters will be shaped like the iconic slingshot in the games. (The entertainment franchise celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.)
A food hall curated by digital channel Munchies
In partnership with culture site Vice, the mall will become the site of the world’s first Munchies Food Hall. The gastronomic experience will feature 18 vendors over 38,000 square feet of space — billed as a platform for creative and diverse culinary talent. It will also include spaces for filming Munchies content, demos from visiting chefs and other activations.
From (Lego)land to Sea (Life)
Merlin Entertainments will bring two of its attractions, Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center, in a complex that comprises more than 70,000 square feet. The former — which has outposts in London, Paris and Orlando, Fla. — provides guests a look at marine life, with a tropical ocean tank and walk-through underwater tunnel as its centerpieces. Legoland, meanwhile, caters to families with children between three and 10 years old, featuring a range of play areas including a 4D cinema, brick pool, Lego-themed rides and the brand’s popular Miniland exhibit.
The first indoor snow park in the United States
Visitors can hit the slopes 365 days a year at Big Snow, the first indoor ski, snowboarding and snow tubing park in the country. The area stands 12 stories tall and spans more than 180,000 square feet, accompanied by a slew of stores dubbed The Shops @ Big Snow that offer equipment, accessories and fashion outerwear. Just like a ski resort, the venue is complete with equipment rentals, lessons, a ski chalet and après ski lounge.
Luxury dine-in movie experience
The mall is debuting a 1,400-seat complex, courtesy of Mexico City-based Cinemex. The theater hosts 12 duo screens, dine-in cinemas with private viewing rooms, oversize seating and the brand’s X4D film presentation system — an experience that features surround sound, moving seats and environmental effects such as rain, wind and scents synchronized to the on-screen action.
Dozens of curiosities
Mall guests will be stopped by the mall’s city gardens, site-specific art and interactive sitting salons. An Instagrammer’s haven, the development will also come with aviaries and rabbit fields; a tree-like sculpture that performs musical songs several times a day; and a catwalk in the heart of its Koi Court. Additionally, a 60-foot entertainment atrium will act as a hub for live events.
Hundreds of retail and specialty shops, including:
- Department stores: Saks Fifth Avenue, Century 21, Primark, Barneys New York (the retailer’s only flagship location in the state)
- Luxury houses: Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, Moncler
- Fast-fashion retailers: Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret
- Contemporary fashion stores: Banana Republic, Gap, Aritzia
This list will be updated when new tenants are announced.
Watch the highlights at the 2018 FNAAs.
How the American Dream Mega-Mall Is Defying Retail Trends