July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Energize Your Day: Activate Fun at the American Dream!

Get ready to run, jump, pitch, score, and more at the American Dream’s brand new adventure, “Activate.” Activate is a one-of-a-kind assortment of games, challenges and team-building exercises that are fast-paced, simple to learn, yet difficult to conquer. Featuring nine distinct rooms, the 45-minute experience is a must-try venue at the esteemed mall. I went with my friends Aryeh, Yair and Yehuda last Saturday night to tackle the American Dream Mall’s latest attraction.

Activate is located at Court A, Level 1, so we made sure to park our vehicle in Lot A on the first level to give us easy access. Once parked and inside the mall, we quickly found Activate located near several other attractions such as Blacklight Mini Golf, Sea Life Aquarium, and the Paradox Museum. We walked into Activate, which made me feel as if I were entering a sci-fi spaceship. The large “Activate” sign by the entrance itself was painted bluish-white, and the walls were similarly white, with several lines of blue lights streaking across them.

We were registered in advance, so when we reached the cashier, we only needed to scan the QR code that had been emailed to me, and we were ready to go. The cashier asked if we wanted instructions, but Yair, who had done Activate before, said that he would be our guide. The cashier then handed each of us a white band to wear on our wrists, and she told us to log in at the nearby screens. I tapped the band on the screen, and I was asked to either log in or register my name and email. Since Yair had been there before, he was able to log in, see his prior stats, and pick up where he left off, continuing to earn points and conquer levels. When each of us was registered, we headed to the game room areas to begin playing.

The best way I can describe the actual Activate game area is to say that I felt like I was a part of a real-life video game. A long, dark hallway with several rooms appeared, each leading to a different, challenging experience, with a glowing circle by each room. To begin playing, we needed to scan each of our wristbands by the glowing circle for our names to appear on the screen. Next, we chose from one of several gameplay options. Since Yair had been to Activate and had achieved certain levels, we were able to join him, starting off at the higher level he had attained. Yair warned us that as soon as we scanned our bands and the room was available, our 45-minute timer would begin.

Our first game was called “Strike,” which was like a baseball pitching game. We needed to take balls that rolled toward us and quickly throw them at one of the screens before a meteor, which was slowly inching closer, crashed into us. By accurately pitching the ball at a screen with a meteor approaching, it would cause the meteor to explode. As we got through each level, the meteors became more difficult to explode and required us to hit them multiple times. This was Aryeh’s favorite game, as he was a former Fuchs Mizrahi baseball player.

Next, we entered the room called “Control,” where honestly, I had no clue what was happening, and I lost fast. It seemed like a version of Pac-Man in which we had to use both our hands and feet to push a button while standing on a panel to control our icon and navigate through a maze. Yehuda was the only one who figured out how the game worked and found it to be his favorite activity. We then tried the “Mega Grid,” which had over 500 sensitive LED floor tiles and light-up wall buttons. Our task was to press all the blue buttons while avoiding the red tiles. It felt like being in a real-life Mario game as we jumped over the red squares. As we progressed through levels, more red squares appeared, some of which were rapidly changing: a safe gray square would periodically turn red, making it even more difficult. This was Yair’s favorite game, so we returned to that room a few times.

Following the Mega Grid, we played the regular “Grid,” which was like the Mega Grid with the goal of tapping the blues and avoiding the reds, but this time, we were shown the lights in advance and then the lights disappeared. So, we had to memorize where to avoid stepping while hitting all of the blue tiles. Feeling like spies, we then tried the room “Laser,” which was a series of laser mazes in which we needed to avoid hitting the lasers. The lasers sometimes stayed still, but other times they moved higher or lower or disappeared entirely for a few seconds before reappearing, giving us a quick opening. This was my favorite game as it involved quick reflexes and strategy.

By far the most popular game, and the room with the longest line, was “Hoops,” which was like one of those arcade basketball shooting games, only with multiple hoops, allowing you to score in any of them. Next, we tried “Hide,” where the task involved tapping numbers on the wall in consecutive order, which was tough since the numbers were randomized. So, we had to call out to each other which number we were up to, all while avoiding a giant eye on each of the four walls that would flash red sporadically.

For our final game, we attempted “Climb,” a mini rock-climbing challenge in which, like in Mega Grid, we needed to hold on to green climbing holds as we searched for the blue holds, avoiding the red ones. Our feet were not allowed to touch the ground, under penalty of automatic loss. This room was by far the most physically tiring, requiring one to be in decent shape in order to navigate it successfully, compared to the other rooms, which, I would say, most people can manage.

By the end of the night, we checked the leaderboard and saw how we ranked against the rest of the field. Yair performed the best among us and was even among the top 10 highest-scoring players of the hour. Aryeh also made it onto the leaderboard, but he was far behind Yair. Due to Yair’s high score, he leveled up to Rank 2 and was eligible to receive a free Activate Keychain. With each rank achieved, a player can earn a water bottle, basketball, T-shirt, hat, sweatshirt, and finally, a $250 gift card to Activate.

Tired and hungry from our energizing 45-minute experience, we headed over to the food court for Bravo’s Pizza. I had not yet visited the kosher food court and was beyond impressed by the plethora of food selections. I really enjoyed the pizza!

If you visit playactivate.com/scores and search your email, you can see all of your stats at Activate and how your score compares with those on the leaderboard. If you rank in the Top 5 on the leaderboard by December 31, 2024, you will get a chance to compete in the Tournament of Champions on Tuesday, February 4, 2025.

I would recommend visiting during less-busy times, such as on a weeknight if possible; that way, you won’t have to wait in line between games and can maximize the 45-minute time. Also, I would wear shorts because it can get hot. There’s only one hand sanitizer at the facility, so bring your own if that is a concern. If you are competitive and want to achieve a high score, I would recommend visiting the Activate website and looking through each of the games to mentally prepare for what each room is about and how to tackle it best. There were many times when we entered a room and quickly lost because one of us (myself included) had no clue what we were doing.

Overall, Activate is my new favorite attraction at the American Dream Mall. It’s an activity that you can return to multiple times, encouraged by the prize opportunities and leaderboard. Definitely give it a shot if you are up for the challenge!

Admission: $24.99 Monday-Thursday; $29.99 Friday-Sunday

Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Located: American Dream Mall, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073; Court A, Level 1

Zachary Greenberg is a consultant at Semler Brossy and the TABC track coach. In 2021, Zack went with his friends David and Abie to the Grand Canyon in Arizona for Winter Break (and highly recommends visiting). Zack also recently watched the movie “Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate” on Peacock (and strongly advises against watching). If you have any recommendations of fun places for him to cover, email [email protected].

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