After 15 long years of bankruptcies, construction delays, legal challenges, financing issues, and a series of ownership changes, Triple Five Group’s game-changing mall, American Dream, has finally opened and has now been up and running since late October. From skiing slopes to amusement parks to ice rinks to slime pits, this unique, three million square foot mall has just about everything. Located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the new shopping center contains over four hundred and fifty retail stores and projects to have about forty million visitors annually.
American Dream’s biggest attraction, Big Snow, is North America’s first indoor ski and snow resort. With over five thousand tons of real snow, a one hundred and sixty foot drop, and twenty eight degree weather all year-round, Big Snow is destined for success. The winter phenomenon opened on December 5th with the help of Olympic skiers like Lindsey Vonn and Donna Weinbrecht. A resident of Ridgewood, Deb Kasameyer, tells of her experience at Big Snow when she went with her husband- “It was cool it felt a lot like Camp Gaw in terms of size. I can totally see us going to ski here in the summer!” Eddie O’Keefe, a senior at RHS, had thrilling experience at Big Snow with the ski team. “It was sick! I think everyone should go.”
So is this mall worth the hype to Ridgewood students? Freshman Mina Jones comments “my family friend’s mom worked on the project, and from what she told me it sounded really cool because it’s different from most malls. It supposedly has a water park, I think a Nickelodeon amusement park, a skiing place and stores, obviously. I think it’s worth the rave, it seems really fun!”
Another chilly feature of the American Dream is the NHL regulation sized ice rink that opened October 25th. Three glass tiers above the rink are dedicated for viewers shopping to watch the blissful skate of the people down below. Although skating in this huge arena may seem like fun, the rink’s construction is still in progress. Deb Kasameyer explains her qualms when she visited the rink. “They did not have any lockers for our shoes, and I had to end up carrying my bag and shoes with me while ice skating. It was supposed to be a high-end mall, you sort of expect those types of enmities.”
This is not the only issue that visitors to the mall have encountered. Worries of huge backup on local roads on game days for the neighboring stadium, MetLife, is a constant concern that is brought up. Also, American Dream needs to work on sorting out legal issues that come with being located in a region (Bergen County) that has blue laws, meaning vendors sell non-food retail on Sundays. Finally, the American Dream provides parking and bus transportation to Manhattan, but they will need to be careful and make sure that people aren’t just using their mall for a Park-and-Ride ideal.
Other than that, things seem to be heading in the right direction for the American Dream. In March of 2020, the mall will be opening the second largest water park in the world, Dreamworks Water Park, which will include the largest wave pool in the world. Other upcoming attractions include a luxury movie theater, a ferris wheel looking over Manhattan, SEA Life Aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center, and two 18 hole Angry Birds-themed miniature golf courses.
Is American Dream the future of all American malls? Only time will tell if developers take as big of a gamble creating a shopping destination as grand and lavish as this one.
Graphic: Ariya Patel