For a fun escape from NYC, check out the family-friendly American Dream Mall attractions which will make you feel you are a world away! Among the many cool things to do at the American Dream Mall are the American Dream Mall Amusement Park, the American Dream Mall pool, American Dream Mall Skiing and American Dream Mall Legoland. And, of course, the many stores in American Dream Mall!
New York is full of superlatives and the American Dream Mall is the ultimate destination combining a shopping center and multiple entertainment centers for the whole family.
American Dream Mall Location
If you are a New Yorker of a certain age like me, you remember the Meadowlands as the infamous swampy dumping crowd of people forced to disappear by Soprano-style Italian gangsters.
Then, the real estate developers who brought the Mall of America in Minneapolis to fruition realised the incredible value of this no-man’s land right near New York City. And, the swamp was drained.
With the end of that Godfather-style era, the American Dream rises again in North America. This time not with concrete shoes but concrete buildings.
Opened in 2019, the American Dream Mall is part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The nearby MetLife Stadium is home to both the New York Giants and the New York Jets.
Located in East Rutherford New Jersey, just a short train ride away from New York City, American Dream Mall is a mall – supersized beyond your wildest dreams.
With 3 million square feet, this mega mall has EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine for a family-friendly destination including an indoor amusement park in NJ, water park, mini-golf … and yes, even skiing.
Although the American Dream Mall seems to be evenly split between entertainment and shopping, you may find yourself having so much fun that the stores become an afterthought!
Family-Friendly American Dream Mall Attractions
We found great things to do at the American Dream Mall for a multi-generational family trip which involved seniors, adults, teens and little children.
Both the mall and the waterpark had specific areas that catered to young children as well as teenagers. At the American Dream Mall, we were able to do things together as a family group such as the Mirror Maze and Aquarium.
We were also able to do separate activities at this entertainment complex easily. There is WiFi as well as easily recognisable meeting areas. Near the information center, there are lockers to rent for the day.
There’s merch on sale of course at these family-friendly attractions.
Water Park American Dream Mall
By far, one of the most fun American Dream Mall attractions is the Dreaworks water park. The American Dream Mall pool area is the largest indoor water park in the world! There are over 40 slices and attractions including a wave pool, and a lazy river.
The water park has thrilling water slides for teenagers as well as adults. There are also gentler rides for younger children at the KungFu Panda Temple of Awesomeness.
Music gets played from the DJ Booth shaped like a giant pineapple under the sea in honour of Spongebob Squarepants.
We spent a lot of time just playing in the Far Away Bay which is a great name for a large pool. It is zero-depth entry and goes up to 5 feet. When the horn sounds, Far Away Bay becomes the largest indoor wave pool you can imagine.
For younger children, there are lifejackets available.
In addition to the free-to-use lounge chairs, there are bright and colourful poolside cabanas designed by Jersey Boy, Jonathan Adler. If you wanted more space, the 3-story skybox suites overlook the pool and rides.
American Dream Mall Theme Park
In another superlative, the American Dream Mall Theme Park is the largest indoor theme park New Jersey offers.
In fact, the Nickelodeon Theme Park is one of the largest indoor theme parks in the Western Hemisphere with 35 rides and attractions. Regular shows include favorite characters like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol.
The Nickelodeon Universal Theme Park is great for big and little kids. There are plenty of gentler rides as well as a host of thrilling roller coasters for the adrenaline junkies in your party.
Among the thrill rides are the world’s steepest roller coaster and the world’s tallest indoor spinning drop tower!
Outside of the theme park itself, there is another theme park ride your family may enjoy – The Dream Wheel. This ferris wheel has 27 gondolas which rise 300 feet over the ground below. The Dream Wheel takes a half hour and give you fantastic views over New York and New Jersey.
Similar to the London Eye, the Dream Wheel operates non-stop for boarding and exiting.
American Dream Mall Skiing
Don’t feel like driving a couple of hours to find actual mountains to ski in the East Coast? American Dream Mall has you covered.
Or, maybe it’s summer and you really want to go skiing in New Jersey.
Big Snow is an American first – the first American indoor ski slope with real snow.
It’s open every day of the year with a 16 story slope with gondolas and ski runs for both skiers and snowboarders. They even have Snow-Go bikes for rental.
For little kids, there is a snow play and sledding area.
You can even rent or buy appropriate outerwear on site.
Big Snow is a real-snow park similar to the ones we have seen at the Dubai Mall and probably just a smidgeon less environmentally unfriendly.
American Dream Mall Ice Skating
Another cool thing to do at the American Dream Mall is The Rink, an NHL regulation sized ice-skating rink. It’s an ice-skating and hockey facility. You can rent helmets and skates as well as little seal-shaped balance guides during open skating times.
The ice rink is also used for games by the Metropolitan Riveters, a women’s professional hockey team.
American Dream Mall Mirror Maze
Filled with trick mirrors, the American Dream Mall Mirror Maze is old-fashioned fun.
You lose sense of perspective and it’s one of the fun family things to do at the American Dream Mall.
American Dream Mall Mini Golf
Get competitive on the 18 hole Angry Birds Mini Golf.
Although the mini golf course is located on one level, the centrepiece sculpture stretches through the middle of the mall making a cool spectacle.
Older kids might like Blacklight Mini Golf which is 18 hole glow in the dark mini golf course. Playing in the dark under the neon glow adds an otherworldly dimension to your mini golf adventure.
American Dream Mall Aquarium
The New Jersey Sea Life Aquarium has 10 exhibits to entrance kids of all ages. There is a touch tank that children will enjoy.
There is also a 186,000 gallon tank that has New York-themed exhibits that the fish swim around. Sea creatures include a charming puffer fish and lots of sharks.
A museum filled with optical illusions? Artist Tracey Lee Stum’s TiLT Museum is perfect for the Instagram-age.
There are 14 life-size murals that bend your perspective and make for great photos!
American Dream Mall Legoland
Like with other Legolands, the American Dream Mall Legoland is best for the under-10 crowd. There is a ride on train attraction and a 4D Cinema as well as other hands-on attractions where you can build with Lego bricks.
The American Dream Mall Legoland plays homage to New Jersey with a lego landscape of the Jersey Shore. There are also Lego builds honouring New York City landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Plaza.
Dream Riders are ride-on stuffed animals that you can zoom around the mall. They can be rented from 15 minutes to 1/2 an hour.
Other Things To Do At American Dream
There are plenty of other things to do at the American Dream, some of which are still works in progress.
For example, there’s a store called the Beef Jerky Experience for people who really like cured meats. There’s a whole lot of selection of random meats like kangaroo and alligator as well as a vegan jerky.
Pick your 60 minute escape game adventure and work as a family to solve the cues.
Got a budding gambler on your hands? Unfortunately located right near the Starbucks is Snatched – a store that only has claw game machines. Watch as your little angels’ eyes glaze over as hope overpowers the futility of experience.
For really little ones, there’s a gem mining experience where you can sift for gemstones. In addition, Geoffrey’s Express is a little train that weaves around the second floor near the Toys R Us.
Restaurants in American Dream Mall
Such a massive shopping experience definitely works up an appetite. The food options at the American Dream Mall do not disappoint.
Your kids may survive on excitement (and sugar) but if you need a caffeine fix, there are plenty of cafes. Our favourite is Grisini’s near the ice skating rink.
American Dream Mall Food Court
The American Dream Mall food court has a variety of eating options include Brooklyn-based Best Pizza (where you can get pizza by the slice).
There’s a large play area with corn hole and large Jenga blocks to keep the kids entertained.
American Dream Mall Restaurants
For fast casual options, try the popular House of ‘Que, a sit down American Dream Mall restaurant from nearby Hoboken serving Austin-style barbecue. My kids say you can never go wrong with burgers, fries and milkshakes from Five Guys American Dream Mall.
For fine dining, try Carpaccio, a Bal Harbour Florida establishment that has followed its snow bird regulars back north.
Beast Burger American Dream Mall
THE place to be if you are a kid though is Beast Burger American Dream Mall.
Mr. Beast, best known for outrageous stunts on YouTube, has entered the burger business. The place is packed with his fans.
The burgers are pretty good but, personally, we thought, the grilled cheese was amazing. There’s plenty of merch for the kids (and adults) to spend money on.
Stores in American Dream Mall
The stores in the American Dream Mall provide the shopping center version of entertainment.
Retail Stores for Kids
Conveniently located right near the American Dream Mall Nickelodeon and the Dreamworks Water Park, It’s Sugar is the world’s first three level candy store. There are two floors devoted to candy and candy-related gear including retro sweets. The top floor is an Oreo Cafe dedicated to all things Oreo.
Resurrected from bankruptcy, Toys R Us has a two story store at the American Dream Mall. There are plenty of toy demonstrations as well as a cafe and a play area to occupy kids.
Retail Stores for Adults
Since it’s a mall, there are shopping opportunities galore as well including New Jersey’s only Saks Fifth Avenue.
The upscale shopping space is labelled The Avenue invoking an outdoorsy area lined with expensive boutiques. The luxury shopping is spread throughout a beautiful space with artwork, topiaries and seating areas.
Although The Avenue tends towards high-end brands, there is more moderate price shopping elsewhere.
The spacious retail stores, such as Lids, Apple, Sephora and Aritizia, include favourites appealing to a broad range of shoppers.
American Dream Mall: Practical Information
American Dream Mall is located at 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford NJ 07073.
Check the American Dream website for opening hours of specific activities which may vary. It’s usually open from 11 AM to 9 PM Monday through Thursday, 11 AM to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 AM to 8 PM on Sundays (for entertainment but NO shopping facilites).
American Dream Mall Tickets
The top attractions at the American Dream Mall all require tickets which are much easier to get ahead of time.
American Dream Mall Parking
American Dream Mall parking is extensive and relatively cheap. The first hour is free and then it’s a flat charge. We stayed all day and paid only $5 (which my mother thought was outrageous!!).
We parked at Parking Deck B which was incredibly convenient for the family-friendly American Dream Mall attractions.
Public Transportation Options
Public transportation options from New York City are plentiful. The first option is the easiest in our opinion.
From Downtown Manhattan, take the PATH train to Hoboken. Then take the NJ Transit 85 Bus to American Dream.
From Manhattan’s Penn Station, take New Jersey Transit to Secaucus Junction Station. Then its a 10 minute taxi/Uber ride.
From Port Authority’s bus terminal, take either (i) NJ Transit’s 320 bus to Harmon Meadow Hill Creek and get off at Park Plaza Drive or (ii) NJ Transit’s 154 bus to Fort Lee and get off at Bergenline Avenue at Union City. Finally, take the NJ Transit 85 Bus to American Dream.
Hotels Near the American Dream NJ
What puts a smile on the faces of harried parents, surly teens and rambunctious kids? Sugar and entertainment venues.
Having spent a long weekend at the American Dream New Jersey as part of a multi-generation family weekend, we can thoroughly recommend it for a fun staycation in the New York area, especially in winter when the weather isn’t great outside.
There are a handful of chain hotel options in the East Rutherford area nearby. We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott which was very handy for the mall. Moreover, we were able to get a series of hotel rooms together that included both 1 and 2 bedrooms.
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