Visiting American Dream Mall in New Jersey: 20 Fun Things To Do and Tips For Your Visit

12/12/23 - By Gina Massaro

American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is not just the tri-state area's largest mall, but it's the second-largest mall in the United States. It has top-notch attractions, including the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, the DreamWorks Water Park, and even an indoor ski resort at Big Snow, as well as plenty of options for shopping, dining, and enough attractions to entertain you for days. Here is our list of the top 20 things to do with kids at the American Dream Mall.

For more fun local escapes, check out our Guide to Day Trips and Weekend Getaways.

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Best Things To Do at American Dream Mall

1. Nickelodeon Universe Amusement Park

Nickelodeon Universe is home to more than 25 indoor rides, including thrilling coasters, kiddie rides, and multiple playgrounds. Little ones love seeing their favorite characters in person, like those from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol. Rides pay homage to popular Nickelodeon TV shows, adding extra fun. It also offers birthday party packages.

2. The Rink at American Dream Mall

Grab your skates or rent a pair and hit the ice at The Rink, an NHL-sized ice skating paradise. Little ones can cruise the ice with seal-shaped balance buddies. Special events happen frequently, and the rink is home to a New Jersey Devil's Learn to Play hockey program, too.

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Visiting American Dream Mall in New Jersey: DreamWorks Water Park
Spend the day making a splash at DreamWorks Water Park.

3. DreamWorks Water Park

DreamWorks Water Park is the largest indoor water park in North America. It features the world's largest indoor wave pool, 15 water slides, a multi-level play structure, and a surf simulator. Families with kids of all ages can get in on the splashy fun. To top it off, the park theme revolves around favorite kid characters from movies like Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon. Water park fans will not want to miss this, and the fun here runs year-round.

4. Legends of the Hidden Temple Ropes Course

Located inside Nickelodeon Universe is the world's tallest indoor ropes course. There are nine exciting, challenging levels of adventure. This American Dream Mall attraction requires a separate ticket and is not included with admission to Nickelodeon Universe, however, discounted tickets are available to those who purchase an all-day pass to the theme park. The course only operates on Saturdays, Sundays, and select holidays.

5. Dream Riders

Dream Riders are motorized animals you can ride around part of the mall in. This is a must-do during your visit to New Jersey's American Dream Mall and a real hidden gem. These furry friends go surprisingly fast and are reasonably priced. There is a height and weight limit, so little ones must ride with an adult.

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 Visiting American Dream Mall in New Jersey: Sea Life Aquarium
Check out the underwater city and its residents at Sea Life Aquarium. Photo by Diana Kim

6. Sea Life Aquarium

The Sea Life Aquarium pays homage to NYC, bringing the city's bright lights and trademark architecture into its exhibits. A 186,000-gallon tank houses sharks, fish, and an octopus. There is also a touch tank to get up close to some small sea creatures.


IT'SUGAR's American Dream Mall outpost is a multi-floor candy store—conveniently located right outside the Nickelodeon Universe theme park. There are so many sweets to choose from, including rock candy, sour gummies, gum, and chocolate. Even grown-ups will find nostalgic sweets to tickle their sweet tooth.

8. Mirror Maze

Remember those mirror mazes at the local carnival? American Dream Mall's Mirror Maze is a super-sized version. Feel and sneak your way through the trick mirrors to escape.

9. Legoland Discovery Center

The Legoland Discovery Center is a perfect indoor play space for future Lego masters. Geared toward ages 2-10, this American Dream Mall attraction features interactive stations, including a test track for building speedy racers and a shaking table to test the strength of your building. Kids can even take a class from a certified Master Builder.

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American Dream Mall with Kids: Tracy Lee Stum's TiLT Museuml
Get silly with the illusions at the TiLT Museum. Photo by Ally Noel

10. TiLT Museum

Urban artist Tracy Lee Stum's TiLT Museum features epic optical illusions made for you to get in on the fun. Take photos among the illusions to play visual tricks on your friends.

11. Blast 7D

If Nickelodeon Universe didn't deliver enough thrills at American Dream Mall, be sure to save time to hit Blast 7D; part ride, part VR, part interactive video game, this immersive experience has several play modes so all ages can enjoy a wild ride.

12. Big Snow

Mother Nature has no impact on your ski schedule thanks to this all-season indoor ski and snowboard park. The first resort of its kind in North America, visitors can ski, sled, board, or just sling snowballs in this winter wonderland no matter the weather outside. Lessons and camps are offered.

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American Dream Mall with Kids: The Oreo Cafe at
Treat the family to one of the many desserts at The Oreo Cafe.

13. The Oreo Cafe

Located on the third floor of IT'SUGAR, you'll find The Oreo Cafe, which serves the iconic sandwich cookie in a variety of ways. From milkshakes to sundaes and ice cream sandwiches, have your Oreo any way you like it. This spot is a cookies-and-cream dream come true.

14. iMuseum

iMuseum is an immersive art experience that uses art, technology, and science to foster self-discovery through each of its installations at American Dream Mall.

15. Activate

Activate transports you into life-size video games reminiscent of mini-games you'd find on some of your favorite consoles. Choose from Grid, which features a floor full of light-up tiles. Different game modes send you leaping from tile to tile to avoid certain colors. In Hide, players must dodge the gaze of two, giant glowing eyes. Strike, Hoops, Climb, and Mega Grid round out the other interactive game rooms. Each room has multiple modes and difficulty levels.

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American Dream Mall with Kids: Toys ‘R’ Us
Toys 'R' Us made a splash with its retail comeback by opening a flagship shop at American Dream Mall.

16. Toys 'R' Us Store

Relive your childhood and visit Toys 'R' Us. The well-known toy retailer returned to its brick-and-mortar roots by opening this multi-level store at American Dream. Here, you'll find toys in neatly organized and labeled in sections, with popular brands like Playmobil, Lego, Barbie, Schleich, Squishimallows, and more all represented. There is often a vendor doing a cool toy demo, as well as plenty of interactive features where kids can play for FREE—though good luck convincing them to leave empty-handed. If you can't get enough of the Toys 'R' Us family, be sure to save time for a ride on Geoffrey's Express, which traverses the second level, and visit its sister store, Babies 'R' Us.

17. Angry Birds Mini Golf

More than just your regular mini-golf course, Angry Birds Mini Golf brings the popular video game and movie characters onto the links with you. If your kids are totally crazy for the crew, there is a store outside the course selling plenty of authentic merchandise. Stop and take your photo with Red even if you're not hitting the course. For another putt-putt option, check out Blacklight Mini Golf.

18. The Paradox Museum

Families can play and explore through the different interactive exhibits that will leave you questioning reality. Optical illusions and tricks make for fantastic photo-ops at The Paradox Museum.

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Visiting American Dream Mall: Dream Wheel
Dream Wheel takes you on a half-hour-long ride with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. 

19. Dream Wheel by Skyviews

The Dream Wheel takes visitors in a gondola-style pod for a 30-minute observation wheel experience, whisking them up 300 feet into the sky for sweeping 360-degree views, including a stunning new vantage point for gazing at the New York City skyline. Lending a carnival-style feel to the new attraction, guests can nab eats like deep-fried Oreos, Nutella funnel cakes, and fried Twinkies from the concession stand before boarding.

20. Shop 'Til You Drop

After all the excitement, make sure you save some time to go shopping at American Dream Mall, too. Spanning 3 million square feet, there are plenty of stores to peruse, from well-known brand names to unique shops and luxury destinations.

Where to Eat at American Dream Mall

There are plenty of excellent dining options at American Dream Mall. For quick service, try mall staples like Wetzel's Pretzels, Best Pizza, Five Guys, and more fast-casual spots.

Teens are guaranteed to flip for MrBeast Burger, which drew a crowd to American Dream Mall when the social media star opened this location—his first foray into the restaurant business.

Sit-down restaurants abound, too, and include House of 'Cue, Yard House, and Carpaccio.

Parking at American Dream Mall

There are four parking decks at American Dream Mall, and visitors should consult the parking map before visiting to ensure you're parking closest to the attraction you want to visit. Most of the family-friendly attractions are near Parking Decks A, B, and C. Parking is FREE for the first hour, and thereafter costs $4 for the duration of your visit.

If you're traveling from New York City, American Dream Mall offers several public transportation options. We've taken the train to Secaucus Junction and enjoyed an easy 10-minute cab ride to American Dream Mall from there.

Hotels Near American Dream Mall

Hilton Meadowlands

American Dream Mall is just a mile away from the Hilton Meadowlands. There is an on-site restaurant as well as a fitness center. With a choice of traditional guest rooms and suites, this is a family-friendly option no matter how large your party.

Extended Stay America Meadowlands

Extended Stay America offers free breakfast as well as an in-room refrigerator, stovetop, and microwave.

Homewood Suites by Hilton East Rutherford

Another all-suite pick, Homewood Suites offers free breakfast and parking, plus an indoor pool.

Unless noted, photos by the author

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