American Dream Mallstrosity Review – New Jersey
After twenty years of a huuuggeeee empty building with a famously hideous ski slope building viewable from the highway, some very rich Jews decided to open the mall. They did this by leasing this other property, the Mall of America, and then the cursed mall in New Jersey, which barely started opening, closed for some pandemic days before the retail stores were set to open. A few missed mortgage payments later and billions of dollars in the hole … and you have yourself a very expensive mall on par with Disney World prices. (Disney World, however, is profitable.)
The only state in the country where malls still prosper, I think, is New Jersey (feel free to correct me). We actually have no abandoned malls (quite an accomplishment, right?) and have the lowest commercial vacancy rates in the in this region of New Jersey compared to anywhere else in the country.
I’ve been going to this mall since a few days after the first parts opened (the indoor ski slope – which is now white from the street … thank you guys). Every so often I go back since it’s so close and the mall gets fuller. As of this writing (August 2021) much of the mall space is still empty.
Let’s start with the most positive – the kosher options keep expanding. Places which weren’t kosher now often are, each showing the Kof-K hechshur proudly in front of the store for all to see. This includes Cinnabon, Dunkin Donuts, a section of the three floor candy store (It’s Sugar), Haagen Dazs, cotton candy, and Chickies (the only kosher meat eatery). There’s allegedly supposed to be a kosher food court with restaurants from Manhattan – that hasn’t happened yet. So … Chickies it is which is more-or-less fried fast food brought in from their Teaneck restaurant. It’s decent. (Like everyone else in the mall, it’s overpriced.) There is actually a cart in one of the hallways (walkways… I don’t know) which has cholev yisroel gilatos … that’s kind of cool (get it?) … for $7 for a very small container that, honestly, I didn’t like. (I had to try it once …)
During Chol HaMoed they even bring kosher food into the water park for purchase! There’s also a kosher section in the amusement park … I’m not sure if that was for Chol HaMoed or all year round.
Big fan. It’s a regulation size ice skating rink with frequent Zamboni and open hours. The rink is beautiful and the prices for rental and skating are pretty good.
I’ve done this a few times … it’s … a novelty. The snow is perfect. The temperature is perfect (27 degrees all year round). All the conditions are perfect. The “hill” is tiny and short. They advertise that it’s the biggest in the Western Hemisphere and it’s 14 stories tall … all true. It’s still tiny for skiing on.
Given the perfectness I used it to practice tight parallel skiing … which works when it’s not crowded. At capacity trying to get around people is not fun and the line for the lift is way too long. The lift is also slooowwwww and they’re on top of you with putting the bar down on the chair lift. Huh? Speeds of 2 … which is kind of the whole place. It’s touristy … they make you go through a fake gondola or something with some cartoon yetti telling you safety rules. You can rent jackets and clothing … and buy socks for $30 a pair when your kid forgets them. (Walk out, go to a store in the mall, buy them for $3 instead.)
It’s worth trying it out … once, maybe twice. I wouldn’t tell a beginner to go because there are just staff hanging around and not much more. It’s not a place to learn and it’s not for experienced skiers either after the novelty. <shrug> … a one to one and half hour drive from there, you can find real ski slopes … they just don’t have snow on them in August like the Mallstrosity has.
I’m a big fan. It’s indoors, temperature controlled, and being a Jewish mall has men’s and women’s hours on Chol HaMoed, Chanukah, and other times. You pre-buy tickets … oh, and then pay extra for a locker after spending nearly $100. Okay, so it’s expensive … probably also losing money.
In addition to the perfect conditions for a water park (which … I quite love in this case), there are some really great rides. They have rides you find at many other places … the cone thing that spins you around in circles, the lazy river which spins you around in circles, and water slides that ironically send you on a straight path. They also have a really, really tall water slide – climb up almost as many stories as the ski slope is high (using stairs – no ski lift) and then you’re dropped at a near vertical and … then it’s over. Still, it’s so cool!
Some of the rides I haven’t seen anywhere else include a water path around the perimeter of the park which is roller coaster-like and lift you up and brings you down as you travel around. Another is like one of those drop a penny things that spins around before dropping. You’re the penny. I went down into a pool under water and was wondering what came next … where do I go? I’m under the thing that just dropped me… it was scary for a bit – I figured they weren’t going to let me drown. Turned out you just swim up and the ride is over. Apparently everyone else knows this.
My kids loved it. Me … I went on one ride and felt kind of queasy. I went on another … then I was lying on a bench the rest of the time while my kids went on one ride after another. I’m not sure when roller coasters and rides that spin you around in circles and spheres and circles within circles became no longer fun anymore. What age did that happen at? instead, I marveled at the engineering. They arranged the rides so well with the supports and overhangs and paths to fit so much into a relatively small space for an amusement park.
I highly recommend for those that like amusement parks – it’s at the higher end of such parks. Just be prepared to drop close to $100/person.
I loved it – very well done and very inexpensive. The colors of the lighting rotates and the number of reflections is quite high. It only took about 10 minutes to walk through, though in fairness it seemed like longer.
I always wanted to go to one of these …
Ugh. Skip it. It’s one thing to have a touristy ski slope … a touristy Aquarium? No. The place is small. The fish are small. The fish aren’t even interesting. It has cutesy stuff like the Empire State Building in the water.
Tickets are $30 / $25 (adult / child). Instead, go to a good aquarium on the top floor of the Liberty Science Center for $28 / $23. It’s much larger, there’s much more variety, they have non-fish (birds, reptiles, mice…), there are shows and demonstrations … and you get a whole science museum with it!
Run by the same people who brought you the overpriced aquarium is the overpriced Legoland. I suppose for a three to five year old they might have a good time. (It’s advertised for up to 10 years old … nahhh.)
For $30/kid you’re better off buying them a new Lego set where the pieces aren’t yet missing. The place is basically a bunch of stations to build Legos with and a few extras. There’s a cheesy 3D movie, one of those rides where you shoot stuff from a moving cart that few kids of the target age group actually understand, and … a Lego city full of skyscrapers.
The signage stinks. I’ve been there numerous times and I still sometimes get lost trying to leave. When you arrive, don’t follow the sign for “American Dream” … that will just take you around in a big loop with traffic lights getting you lost. Instead, you go down further to the next right and actually make it to a parking lot where they charge $3 at an indoor pay station if you’re there over an hour. Every time I’ve been there they just waive you out anyway. I think I have to stop paying. I guess if you had to pay, you’d do it at the exit anyway.
The signs are so bad that I can’t recall a time I went where someone didn’t cut across multiple lanes to make a turn and almost hit me. It’s that bad. It’s like a Loony Tunes episode where a guy keeps asking at a hot dog stand how to get off the freeway. Eventually he opens another stand next to the hot dog stand because it turns out the hot dog stand guy never figured out how to leave either.
There’s supposed to be trains and buses … I guess ?
I’m not the person to rate shopping malls because there hasn’t been one I liked since about the early 90s. Arcade games at 25 cents a piece were cool. Fine, we have better home video game systems today. They’re anti-social compared to a good arcade in a mall. Computer stores? Music stores? Gadgets you don’t need stores? All gone! Radio Shack – bankrupt. Sam Goody – somewhere. Barnes and Nobles – not in malls. Sharper Image – not exactly missed. You can’t even find a good toy store in a mall anymore … they’re gone too.
The only thing left in malls seems to be clothing stores. Yeah sorry – I buy my clothes online – oh, that’s why there’s nothing in malls. Anyway, expensive clothing stores without even ratings or ability to sort by reviews … yeah, retail would be dead a lot faster if I was the target audience.
Anyway, bleh. Can’t find a single store to go into in this mall. If you like “high end” or “trendy” clothing stores, okay, I guess this is for you.
The mall is owned by frum Jews. The kosher food options are plentiful (unless you want an actual complete meal). On Chol HaMoed it’s like the goyim wearing anything but a long black coat or skirt are now a minority that looks out of place in a modern world (or something).
I’ll say it like this – if you want to run into a frum Jew you haven’t seen in 20 years, hang around this mall. You might even have a hard time finding pictures of the mall in this article that don’t show Jews. (The one of Cinnabon even has my hand in it.)
There’s plenty more that can be reviewed … feel free to add your comments and experiences.