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American Dream: open, but empty

Only one store open despite Oct. 25 debut

On Jan. 29 construction walls were adorned with surrealist art. Photos by Daniel Israel

American Dream, the behemoth mall in East Rutherford, finally opened on Oct. 25, 2019. Yet only a candy department store, IT’SUGAR, is ready for business.

The only amenities open as of Jan. 29 were Nickelodeon Universe, The Rink, and Big SNOW.

Currently, guests can visit Nickelodeon Universe, the cartoon-based theme park, and the accompanying gift shop inside the mall. The park features characters, places, and other elements from Nickelodeon television shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Rugrats, and Dora the Explorer.

Nickelodeon Universe

The ice rink, known as The Rink, is an NHL regulation size ice rink available for figure skating and hockey rentals.

The Rink

The Big SNOW is also fully operational. According to American Dream, Big SNOW is North America’s first and only indoor ski slope. The slope, consisting of real snow, operates year round.

IT’SUGAR, a candy department store, was the only retail store open as of Jan. 29. The multi-level candy store features an incredible amount of sweet snacks from floor to ceiling. Its storefront is adorned with a giant sculpture of the Statue of Liberty made with jellybeans.

I spent more than $40 dollars at the candy shop while visiting American Dream.

IT’SUGAR candy department store

The rest of the retail spaces remain hidden behind construction facades. These temporary structures are decorated with elaborate surrealist digital art.

Some of the art featured surreal scenes, including a dinosaur with a postal hat, cotton candy with lips and sunglasses, and two giraffes wearing hats driving a car with donuts for wheels. Young adults could be seen posing for pictures in front of some of the wall art.

The halls are empty as retailers construct their stores.

The first floor was the only one accessible to the public. Inside the long corridors, a few vendors set up in carts. Abundant sitting areas include brightly colored foot stools in the shape of lambs.

The only part of the second floor open to guests was Big SNOW. The indoor ski slope and shop greeted guests with a yeti-looking mascot.

The mall hosted a job fair for the retail shops on Jan. 29.

“American Dream and our partner retailers are hiring talented individuals to join our growing teams, with full-time and part-time positions available,” American Dream advertised in a flyer for the event. “Located at an easily accessible point in East Rutherford, NJ adjacent to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, American Dream is a one-of-a-kind destination redefining what it means to shop, play, and dine.”

Amazon is among the retailers that will open a storefront.

Positions available at the job fair included Store Manager, Assistant Manager, Keyholder, Visual Associate, Sales Associate, Cashier, and Stock Associate.

Some retail shops that participated in the fair were Amazon 4-star, Big SNOW, Grisini, IT’SUGAR, Lush, MAC Cosmetics, Sephora, UNIQLO, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara. Future events are planned to draw customers to the mall as the retail spaces continue to hire workers.

POP! goes my heart

According to American Dream, a series of popup shops will be opening this February, in time for Valentine’s Day.

The popup stores will be open on weekends starting Jan.31 and ending on Feb. 16.

The mall will be open on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturdays noon to 8 p.m., and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.

“This February let your love pop at American Dream!” the mall crowed.

Myriad events range from photo booths to themed giveaways aimed at bringing shoppers to the mall for Valentine’s Day.

American Dream will feature Valentine’s Day photo booths and love-related art installations throughout February at The Rink and other areas to “spread love.”

Sephora will offer free makeup sessions every weekend. Visitors can choose from an array of complimentary mini-makeover services. Giveaways will be held on Valentine’s Day weekend by soon-to-open retailer Ulta Beauty.

Lovepop will sell Valentine’s Day cards all month. Floral arrangements will be available from local florist, Unique Flowers. Chocolate Studio will sell hand-painted chocolates and provide a complimentary Valentine’s Day products.

The Underdog Initiative is partnering with the Animal Lighthouse Rescue to host a popup adoption event on Feb. 8. From 1 to 4 p.m., these New York City-based animal rescue groups will bring dogs and puppies to American Dream.

The Dreamworks Water Park will open in March 2020.

The Valentine’s festivities will conclude on Feb. 14 with a date skate. Guests are invited to bring anyone to skate at The Rink to “sweet tunes” spun by DJ Prince Hakim. Skate rentals will be free from 5 to 8 p.m.

American Dream’s next phase will be sometime in March with the launch of the Dreamworks Water Park.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com

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