American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, N.J., opened this fall. Or at least it's theme park section, Nickelodeon Universe, has. First conceptualized in 1991, renamed many times, so far, a pro-sized ice rink and the amusement park rides are the first parts of the massive mall to open.
Visitors will need to wait a little while longer to visit the indoor water park, which will feature over 40 slides and 15 attractions. Included will be the world's largest wave pool, the world's tallest indoor body slide, and 31 luxury cabanas. One week after that debut, the indoor snow park, Big Snow, opened in December. Big Snow features a 160-foot indoor ski slope, with some 5,500 tons of snow, topped with a 26-degree incline. There are thrilling banked turns and gentler grades, as well as a small terrain park.
In March 2020, shopping and dining options will be open for guests. There, visitors will find a 60-foot tall fountain, a garden with aviaries and rabbit fields, and “museum-scale” interiors, the better to shoot selfies in. An Angry Birds themed mini golf with 3D Angry Birds will also open; so, too will the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
But for now, it's Nickelodeon time. Coasters, a nine-story ropes course, and a total of 35 rides make up the 8.5 acre amusement park, the largest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere. The thrill coasters appear to be the thing: The Shreddar, The Shellraiser, and the Skyline Scream.
The ice rink, separate from the amusement park, is NHL-sized for both figure skating and hockey; the rink features open skating, figure skating, hockey tournaments and more.
Entering the Nickelodeon amusement park, visitors will see a suspended, green-slime splattered large scale Nickelodeon blimp
The TMNT Shellraiser is the park's stand-out thrill ride. The coaster takes riders through seven inversions in an eight-passenger car capable of going from 0 to 62 miles per hour in just 2 seconds. After a brief break in the accelerating action, the cars climb slowly up a 141-foot vertical lift to a pop-up tower above the park's roof. This vantage point offers a wide view of the Manhattan skyline, as the car slips over the edge, and halts for a dramatic 14 second pause. Then the car releases into a 121.5-degree drop – termed the steepest in the world – followed by more inversions.
Once riders catch their breath, they can board The Shredder, which weaves around Shellraiser. It's termed the world's tallest and longest free-spinning coaster, with an 85-foot height and 2,247-feet of track. There are wild hairpin turns and rotating cars.
The two roller coasters take up most of the park's space and feature a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme which is more incidental than immersive. Other rides include the more family-friendly Nickelodeon Slime Streak, and Timmy's Half Pipe Havoc, another thriller that takes riders on a back and forth race in a car that resembles a skateboard, moving over a U-shaped track.
There's also Sandy's Blasting Bronco – named after Sponge Bob Squarepants' squirrel pal. Nickelodeon Skyline Scream is claimed as the world's tallest indoor spinning drop tower.
There's also a small Ferris wheel, a Rugrats-themed carousel, and a swing ride. The mix of rides is aimed at a wide audience of thrill lovers, family-friendly attractions, and rides targeted at younger patrons.
There are souvenirs and food stands as well, and characters roam the park, including SpongeBob SquarePants' BFF Patrick. Additionally, a “Slime Time Live” show and a nighttime light show are planned.
The many different entertainment options aside, from Nickelodeon amusement park to ice rink, waterpark, and snow park, many mall-goers will also be seeking the shops and dining – and additional entertainment options – in the American Dream Mall proper which willfeature over 450 stores and attractions.
The average guests will be expected to spend approximately 3 hours at Nickelodeon Universe, then moving on to eat, shop, take in another attraction such as the ice rink, and then return for more coasters or a spin on the carousel.
Notable at the Nickelodeon Universe park is that while branding the rides with familiar Nick names and colors, there are no immersive, Disney-like ride experiences. Considering the location and the ability to fuse amusement park fun with shopping and dining experiences, that may not be important to guests.
What could very well be important however are the relatively high prices. Starting November 15, an all-access pass to the park costs $79.99. A general access pass, which excludes the major thrill rides, and should be just right for younger visitors and those who are not coaster enthusiasts, costs $59.99. Admission is free for children two and under.
Considering New Jersey's chilly winter weather, these prices will probably not discourage riders from experiencing coaster fun in a 73-degree, temperature-controlled environment.
And with a widening number of attractions soon available – waterpark indoors, while snow falls outside – the American Dream Mall may be a dream destination for guests.