I Visited the Brand New “Largest Mall in America” & It Is A Stark Empty Flop!

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American Dream Mall Review
The stark exterior of American Dream is only outdone by the stark interior.

American Dream Mall Review

Mega shopping malls are admittedly pretty cool in my book. I remember the first time I set foot inside Mall of America and its 400+ stores, theme park and seemingly miles of walkways. I was mesmerized with both how attractive the mall was and of the sheer scope and size.

I’ve also visited many other mega malls around the world including some of the largest ones. I found the Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall to both be spectacular and I’ll never forget my visit to the old school West Edmonton Mall which is also home to a large indoor amusement park and shares the same owner as Mall of America and American Dream

Imagine my excitement then for American Dream Meadowlands, a sprawling complex that is now “open” in New Jersey just across the Hudson from Manhattan. In an era when buildings are more attractive than ever, this stark behemoth of a building is part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex which includes a race track and MetLife Stadium which is home to the NFL’s Giants and Jets.

American Dream Mall Review
The stark jarring Inside the largely unopened American Dream mall. This is the largest shopping mall in the United States but has only 1 open store.

American Dream Overview

When it is fully operational, American Dream will be the largest mall in the United States with about 3,000,000 square feet of leasable space. The mall opened its doors in October, 2019 with the opening of the Nickelodeon Universe theme park along with an ice rink. Additionally, the Big Snow indoor ski slope opened in December, 2019.

As of January, 2020 there is one candy shop in the mall along with two snack carts. None of the retail stores are open. American Dream is also to feature a Dreamworks themed water park which was supposed to open in November, 2019 but was delayed indefinitely with no opening date announced.

American Dream Mall Review
Outside of American Dream as seen from the highway. The tower on the left is not a prison guard tower! 🙂 It houses the top of one of the roller coasters.
The Big Snow ski slope is the biggest highlight of American Dream.

How to Get to American Dream from Manhattan

American Dream is located within the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey, but is very close to Manhattan. There are a few ways to reach the mall from New York City, but unfortunately none are really inexpensive.

Rideshare

One of the easier ways to get to American Dream from Manhattan is to take Uber/Lyft. Depending on how many people are in your group this could be the most economical way as well. I found that Uber or Lyft fares were $50 and up each way depending on demand and time of day.

Bus from Manhattan to American Dream

American Dream Mall Review

If you are solo or with a smaller group then you may want to consider taking the bus from Manhattan to American Dream. Bus 355 departs every 20-30 minutes for most of the day and runs directly from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan to American Dream and the Meadowlands Sports Complex without any stops.

  • Bus #: 355 (Schedule)
  • Leaves from: Port Authority Bus Terminal
  • Cost: $9 per person each way

My friends and I took the bus route on our recent visit and were pleasantly surprised with how fast we arrived at American Dream. At $18 roundtrip per person it wasn’t cheap, but it came in at about half of the cost of the three of us to take rideshare to visit the massive mall.

American Dream Mall Review – Nickelodeon Universe

American Dream Mall Review
Hanging with my friends Dave (middle) and Karl from Midlife Bucket List (left) at Nickelodeon Universe inside of American Dream!
American Dream Mall Review
They fit a lot of rides into a small space.

The main reason for our trek out to American Dream was to experience the mall’s Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park. American Dream is owned by Tripe Five Group which is the same company that owns both Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall. Mall of America features a sister Nickelodeon Universe park that I really love, so I was excited to visit this East Coast version.

Unfortunately, it was pretty evident when we entered that this theme park has little charm. Just like the outside of the building it feels stark and uninspired. My friends and I (who all love the Minnesota version) all agreed it felt like a giant warehouse with rides plopped inside of it. Right now four of the park’s five coasters are open and admittedly they have packed a lot into a small space.

American Dream Mall Review
Unfortunately in areas like this it looks like they ran out of money to theme the stations.
American Dream Mall Review
The view as you descend down into American Dream from the mall.

Tons of Rides – Tons of Cost Cutting

Just like Nickelodeon Universe in Minnesota, New Jersey’s version has rides for both adults and for children. Particularly impressive was the park’s Nickelodeon Slime Streak coaster. Despite being a family ride, it was smooth and surprisingly fast. We found that the park’s flagship TMNT Shellraiser ride was incredibly rough despite having some very fun elements.

For $60 Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream fails miserably to deliver the value you will find at normal theme parks. None of us cared to ride any of the coasters more than once and despite some unique things like an awesome looking ropes course, they simply are charging too much money. But that isn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the “mall” itself. (Find more pictures of the park in our gallery at the end.)

American Dream Is A Big Empty White Shell

American Dream Mall Review

American Dream is supposed to have 450 stores when it opens, but right now all you see is construction walls everywhere complimented by a stark white design that felt a bit like walking through a hospital. While I’m sure open stores will add some color to this dystopian looking building, nothing about it feels inviting or comforting.

The other two open attractions in the mall are an ice rink which looks good enough and the really neat looking Big Snow indoor ski slope. I have only seen one other attraction like this in person (Dubai), but I have to say this is easily the best thing about American Dream. We didn’t have time to ski, but this looks to be a world class facility and the novelty of skiing inside a mall is not lost on me.

No Food or Drink

American Dream Mall Review
This is the only food available inside the theme park. Temporary buildings have been setup since the permanent structures are not finished.

In addition to having no open stores with the exception of a candy shop outside of the theme park, there is NO WHERE TO EAT. I should correct myself. There are two small carts that serve premade food like you would find at 7-11. Additionally, in the theme park a third temporary facility (shown above) serves pretty much the same stuff. There isn’t even a permanent food establishment in the theme park as of now nor are there any restaurants open within the mall.

American Dream Mall Review – More to Come?

Walking through American Dream my friends and I were left to wonder why the heck it was open? None of the 450 stores were open and most looked to be FAR from completion. There are no places to eat and it seemed like half of the mall was simply blocked off. Additionally, the Dreamworks water park sits there looking pretty but clearly not finished. So why not wait until it is finished to open? My guess is money.

American Dream Mall Review
The Dreamworks water park actually looks pretty cool, but its November, 2019 opening has been delayed without a new opening date set.
American Dream Mall Review
A basic ice rink brings some much needed outside light into the mall.

American Dream has an interesting past. Construction began on the mega mall in 2004, but it took 15 years for them to even get this much open. While this is pure speculation, I am guessing the owners (who put up West Edmonton and Mall of America as collateral) are cash strapped. They got the couple of attractions they could open so they could generate revenue in order to finish the mall. I have simply never seen anything open and unfinished like this. It’s a dead mall that is brand new! Unattractive is an understatement.

American Dream Mall Review – More Photos

American Dream Mall Review – Bottom Line

While the American Dream Mall promises to be the largest shopping mall in the United States with 3,000,000 square feet of leasable space, right now it is just a large empty white shell with an uninspired theme park, an ice rink and a very cool indoor ski slope. I have serious doubts if this project will survive long term given its bones. Maybe I’ll consider someday returning when/if they ever get more of it open.

Have you been to American Dream Meadowlands? Did you enjoy your visit to the country’s “largest” empty shell of a shopping mall? Let us know below!

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16 COMMENTS

  1. The mall isn’t open yet. Google “american dream opening” and the result in every source is March, 2020. You didn’t have anything to eat because the food court HASN’T OPENED YET! Hello!??? It’s still in preview phase with just some attractions open. How could you review something that’s mostly not open yet and then say it’s too empty as the substance of tour review? Really.

    • Strange. This press release says the mall opened on October 25, 2019? I’m pretty sure I said they were building all of the shops, etc so I didn’t lie about that either. https://storage.googleapis.com/americandream-comingsoon-uploads/American%20Dream%20Reveals%20Opening%20Celebrations.pdf

      I made it very clear that many parts were still under construction, but don’t get too confident in that March opening date. The owners have many times now delayed openings. Look at that press release for example. The water park did not open despite them saying it would be open in November and there is no opening date as of now. I never hid the fact that they are opening stores. In fact I say it a few times in the review.

      As for the lack of food, they decided to open up a major theme park, ice rink and a giant indoor ski slope without anywhere to eat except food carts. I didn’t tell them to open these things and I think it is valid to point out that restaurants don’t currently exist. Of course the mall will have a food court, although I saw it (or at least the one on the ground floor) and it too looks far away from completion.

      Stephen I hope the mall opens entirely in March, but I remain skeptical of that. Either way my review is 100% accurate to my experience visiting the OPEN mall as a paying customer and I stand behind it. Will it change when everything opens? Sure, but it will probably still feel like a hospital. The big question is how much trouble are they in financially if they decided to open up this completely unfinished beast of a mall just to get some revenue coming in.

  2. While the mall does look really sad, the ski hill looks super fun! And the theme park actually looks pretty fun too.
    I doubt I’d go because we aren’t in the nyc area very often so probably wouldn’t spend a day out of a weekend trip to go to the mall. But it does kind of look promising.
    The partial opening is super weird. You’re probably right that it’s money issues that lead them to open now rather than wait until it was more full before opening.

  3. So an mall that hasn’t even opened yet is an “empty flop”??? I just visited a zoo that’s being built and I didn’t see one animal in all those empty cages. Must be the same developers . . .

    • This mall has been under construction for 15 years and is now open to the public. I did provide useful information for how to visit along with a detailed review of the theme park as well and tons of pics for people to make a decision for themselves. I also provided relevant links for people to find out more about the park and its eventual fate. Your analogy gave me a chuckle though, but unfortunately it isn’t valid. Thanks for reading David!

  4. Amazed they built the thing – with so many malls closing and retailers going BK, the place will never be profitable.

    Even more amazed any sane adult would be ‘excited’ about a mall.

    • No one ever called me sane! 🙂 I am always excited for unique things whether they are malls, theme parks or cool/historic sights & attractions. With that said, much of the world loves these mega malls so somebody must be interested.

    • @Ron, One of the only places where shopping centers have still been proven viable is New Jersey. Lots of expendable income… guess they we’re using those stats when deciding to build this. Doubtful they will get many folks from NYC to shlep over there though…

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