While business analysts may have declared the era of the mega-mall over, the Ghermezian family, owners of American Dream, who also happen to be the owners of two other mega-malls—the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall—are thrilled to be opening their newest facility right in our backyards, with a laser-focus on experiences as well as high-end retail and dining opportunities.
“You can’t ride a roller coaster on your mobile device,” said Paul Ghermezian, who has worked on the American Dream project for the past nine years. “These are flagship experiences, giving the customer an experience they can’t get anywhere else.”
It’s their first foray into the tri-state area, and Ghermezian noted joy at seeing the sizable regional Jewish community checking out and making the most of the facility. “I love when I see people coming here on shidduch dates,” he told The Jewish Link.
Ghermezian explained that the upset in the marketplace caused by Amazon and other online retailers, which have effectively created major changes to American shopping habits, actually have not affected general interest in their malls. “We’ve had Amazon lockers [for picking up online-ordered items] in our other facilities. We’ve been talking about experiences before everyone else was talking about experiences. Amazon has been great for our business,” he said.
After over a decade of stops and starts, the first phase of the American Dream, the massive, three million square-foot entertainment, retail and amusement destination next to the New Jersey Turnpike in East Rutherford, has begun to unfold. Its launch is big, it’s focused on fun, and it’s all about name brands and unique experiences.
Open first last week was the Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere, and “The Rink,” an NHL-size ice skating and hockey facility. Ticket prices for the Nickelodeon Experience range from $39.99 for general admission to $49.99 for an all-access pass. Toward the end of December, the Dreamworks Water Park is set to open with 40 water slides and 15 rides, with a surfing pool and a lazy river. By the first week of December, “Big Snow at the American Dream” will open for skiing and snowboarding even on the hottest days of the year.
In March 2020, the retail portion of American Dream will open, debuting “over 350 unparalleled shopping experiences,” according to a release. This will include retailers such as Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. Also set to open around this time is the Sea Life Aquarium, a movie theater, mini-golf and the LEGOLAND Discovery Center.
Among dining destinations opening around that time is a long-awaited kosher fast-food court, which will be located in a dedicated space with a view of the ice rink, that will be closed on Shabbat and Yom Tov. The food court will include pizza, sushi, shnitzel/subs and Asian cuisine. Currently, Ghermezian said, prepackaged kosher sandwiches and salads are available in the Nickelodeon Universe Park. “If you don’t see it, ask for it,” he said.
By Elizabeth Kratz