Sharks spin at the American Dream Mall. This time it’s good news.
Three months ago, the owners of the American Dream shopping center in New Jersey Meadowlands fought off financial creditors who smelled of blood due to default. Now the mall is celebrating the arrival of some natural predators and more than 3,000 sea creatures, it hopes, will help draw the crowds.
Two of American Dream’s long-delayed attractions, the New Jersey Sea Life Aquarium and the Legoland Discovery Center New Jersey, were greeted Tuesday with a grand opening ceremony at the mall, held two weeks after the two sites began to receive visitors during a preliminary preliminary opening.
The openings of the Sea Life Aquarium and the Legoland Discovery Center, which are jointly operated by Merlin Entertainments, are bright spots for American Dream after a long and dark period of delays, pandemic closures and uncertainty about the future. from the mall.
Merlin Entertainments addressed this uncertainty in a “Media FAQ” fact sheet. Besides questions such as “What kind of creatures are in the aquarium,” Merlin asked and answered this question, “Are you confident in the success of American Dream? “
“Yes, we are,” was the response. “We are confident that visitors will continue to be drawn to the destination and the unique experiences that are available to people of all ages,” said Merlin.
The Aquarium and the Legoland Discovery Center are two attractions that are likely to draw families to the populated New York City area for repeat visits. These are also two attractions where visiting families can have the time, energy or money available to shop afterwards, unlike the on-site amusement park, water park or indoor ski slope. .
Entrance prices for both attractions are much more family friendly. Admission for all ages to the Legoland Discovery Center is $ 28.99, and $ 28.99 for adults and $ 23.99 for children at the aquarium. Customers can visit both attractions with a combo ticket priced at $ 43.99 for adults and $ 38.99 for children.
The water park, on the other hand, costs $ 109 for people 10 and over for a five-hour entry on weekends and $ 89 on weekdays. The amusement park costs $ 85 for ages 10 and over on weekends and $ 59 on weekdays.
While there are many other aquariums in the New York metro area, there are no other Sea Life aquariums in the Northeast. (The closest to New York is in Charlotte, NC)
Sea Life is known for its interactive exhibits, children’s exhibits and tanks, educational events and commitment to ocean conservation and high supply standards for fish in its aquariums.
The aquarium’s theme, City Under the Sea, features New York and New Jersey landmarks recreated with a “fishy” touch, such as Sharks Fish Avenue, the Empire Skate Building, and JF Ray Aquaport.
The Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center open as hiding and other Covid restrictions are lifted in New Jersey and across the country, and as shoppers return to malls in encouraging numbers.
American Dream developer Triple Five envisioned the mall when he first unveiled plans in 2011 for a 3 million square foot entertainment and retail complex, as a pole of attraction for international tourists. But with international tourism unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, American Dream must give New York metro area residents reason to make repeat visits and shop at its retail tenants. .
Currently only 130 stores are open in the center, well below the 400 plus stores of the original proposal.
The mall has yet to open one of the upscale, full-service restaurants that Triple Five had promised to be part of the American Dream experience. A number of restaurants are advertised in the mall and on its website as “coming soon” or “opening in fall 2021,” but for now, fast food court style meals are the only options available. restoration.
In March, creditors described as encircling American Dream, reportedly crafted a agreement this gave them a 49% stake in the future profits of Triple Five’s other mega-shopping centers, The Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, which had been used as collateral for the American Dream construction loans.
In American Dream’s Sea Life Aquarium, there is a 186,000 gallon ocean tank where nine sharks are constantly spinning, as well as oceanic fish that would normally be their prey. How does Sea Life keep them from eating the other exhibits? “We keep them well fed,” explained Rich Weedle, curator of the aquarium.
When the sharks first arrived in the tank, Weddle said, the staff studied their eating habits and tracked when and how much they ate and learned how much food they needed to keep them from biting another inhabitant of the reservoir.
American Dream has satisfied its creditors so far. But to keep financial sharks at bay, it needs to attract more retail and restaurant tenants, and demonstrate that it can attract a steady stream of buyers with money to spend.