Rides or shopping? The reopened American Dream mega mall will have both starting this week.



If you’ve been waiting for American Dream to reopen so you could scream at the top of your lungs on an indoor roller coaster or to add the perfect sweater to your fall wardrobe, you’ll be able to do both Oct. 1.

American Dream is scheduled to reopen Thursday after more than six of months of being closed due to the pandemic. The entertainment-heavy development in East Rutherford didn’t open when other indoor malls were allowed to June 29 because it only had one retailer doing business — IT’SUGAR, a three-story candy department store — prior to the COVID-19 closure.

And it also didn’t reopen Sept. 1 when Gov. Phil Murphy gave permission for indoor amusements to resume operations with restrictions. (Although, Big SNOW at American Dream did open then).

Now, more than a dozen stores have been granted certificates of occupancy since March and most of the rides at American Dreams’ water and amusement parks have state approvals to operate.

“We know that our community has been waiting to return, but it was important to us that we took the proper time and precautions needed to welcome guests back in the safest possible manner,” Mark Ghermezian, Co-CEO at American Dream said earlier this month.

Instead, American Dream set Oct. 1 as its reopening date and has been quiet about exactly what visitors can expect. It did say both its indoor amusement park Nickelodeon Universe and DreamWorks Water Park would be open. It teased a few stores that would debut and it announced Friday that its Angry Birds themed mini golf course would open.

Here’s what else NJ Advance Media has learned about the reopening:

Nickelodeon Universe:

All 25 of Nickelodeon Universe’s original rides have been approved to open, according to the state Department of Community Affairs.

A new ride called Flip Zone, however, has been taken out of operation by state inspectors because it wasn’t functioning correctly. “Once the necessary fixes are released from DCA’s engineering review, the ride will need another inspection before it is put back in operation,” a DCA spokesperson said.

Five new rides are also in the works for Nickelodeon Universe. Samba Tower, Crazy Bus, Happy Swing, Speed Way and Tea Cup are all in engineering review, the spokesperson said.

Prices for Nickelodeon Universe tickets have been reduced by about $20 from pre-COVID prices and are now based on the age of the guest. Guests over the age of 10 will pay $59, those who are 3 to 9 years old pay $55 and it’s $49 for those over 65. Prices used to vary based on weekday or weekend and access to all the rides or just the tamer ones. Peak pricing was $79.99.

DreamWorks Water Park:

At DreamWorks Water Park 26 of the 28 rides have been approved to open, according to the DCA.

The two rides that are not opening were not named by the state but American Dream’s website lists as “coming soon” Thrillagascarrr, the world’s tallest indoor drop slide, which has a 50-foot freefall, and Toothless Trickling Torpedo, the world’s tallest and longest hydromagnetic water coaster.

Neither ride was open when DreamWorks Water Park hosted a sneak peek in March, prior to the COVID shut down.

Prices for DreamWorks Water Park have also been reduced, by about $10. Tickets for guests over the age of 10 cost $89, those 3-9 years old pay $79 and senior citizens are $73. There is a 15% military discount for up to four tickets.

Shopping:

American Dream has said retailers H&M, Primark and ZARA will debut at the reopening.

Aldo, Arc’Teryx, Asics, Century 21, Columbia, DSW, Fabletics, Hollister, MAC Cosmetics, Pink Victoria’s Secret, Primark, Samsonite, Sephora, Sunglass Hut, Tumi, and Uniqlo and Urban Planet have also been granted certificates of occupancy, according to the DCA.

Final inspections are in progress for Aritzia, Banana Republic, Bath & Body, Old Navy, Sketchers, UGG, and space A130, which is a retail space that presently has no tenant, the DCA spokesperson said.

American Dream laid off about 100 workers during the pandemic and said in June that it would eliminate 7% of the employees it previously hired. It also said that it would shift its offerings from 55% entertainment and 45% retail to 70% entertainment and 30% retail.

In mid-September, the mega-mall began hiring again to prepare for its reopening. It was looking to fill about 300 full and part-time positions.

Developer Triple Five has struggled financially through the pandemic. It missed three $7 million mortgage payments on its Mall of America, which it used as collateral for American Dream financing. Triple Five struck a deal in August to avoid foreclosure on Mall of America.

But it has also lost tenants at American Dream due to retail bankruptcies, including Barney’s, Lord & Taylor and Century 21 department store.

The 3-million-square-foot development was nearly 90% leased as of January and saw about 800,00 visitors in its first three months open.

An American Dream spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Allison Pries may be reached at [email protected].

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