The American Dream: Not For Me

Least you think this is a depressing post and that I have given up on life, let me assure you that it's not true.  I'm not talking about the typical American Dream.  I'm talking about the shopping mall.
(Ski slop is on far left; rollercoaster is on the far right.  Office buildings block my view of the rest of the mall)

For those of you not in the tristate area, after nearly 2 decades (yes, you read that right), this monstrous mall is finally opening today.  Well, sort of.  Like the Mall of America (which is larger as the American Dream is "only"3 million square feet) it's more than your "traditional" mall.  Besides having shops (which are not yet open nor does the general populace know exactly WHAT shops there will be) and food, there will be a water park, ice skating rink, ski slope...and yes all of this is INDOORS.  However, on "opening day" the only thing that will be open is Nickelodeon Universe and I'm not paying $50 to ride a coaster and have photo with SpongeBob.  (I'd LIKE a photo with SpongeBob...or Squidworth.) And that doesn't include parking.

The mall, which has been under construction for what seems like an eternity (even though it has been less than 20 years), is still pretty ugly in my book.  (Judge for yourself...I took this crappy photo out a window in my office.)  It's LESS ugly than when it was Xanadu.  But it still holds no draw for me.  

I DO like shopping malls (well maybe not as much as I did when I was under 21, but...) and I do like theme parks (I'm a Disney fanatic and currently going through withdrawal after 3 years away from WDW).  While the mall itself is HUGE, the theme park isn't that big.  (There are 35 rides and attractions...does anyone really know what that means?)  There are just too many cons and too few pros in my book.  

Traffic has always been an issue in NJ and the American Dream sits in the middle of a traffic nightmare.  The route 3 and NJ Turnpike area is pretty much ALWAYS congested.  Top that off with the fact that the American Dream is "across the street" from Giant Stadium.  You don't need much imagination to come up with the nightmare that traffic will be when the mall is open and there is an event at the stadium.  Or how about when there is an event at the stadium and it is holiday time?

Paying for parking?  I'm against it.  I can shop in plenty of other places WITHOUT parking fees.  With that said, parking costs at the American Dream are supposedly low ($3 for up to 30 min to $24 for more than 8 hours but pricing of $30 applies if there is an event at the neighboring Stadium.)  I know that theme park generally charge for parking, but then theme parks also often offer season passes with perks that include free parking.  Am I making too much of this whole parking thing?  Probably.

Have I mentioned traffic?

How about the environment?  This mall (as well as my office which is several miles southwest of the mall) sits on the marshland.  NJ is the Garden State.  But if you're coming into the area, you'd never understand why.  NJ is also rapidly becoming (or should I say already has become?) the state of overdevelopment. We need a balance between nature and industry that we don't have.  The American Dream is not helping that balance. (It wasn't helping even before it opened...When I have the time [ha!] I should do some research and see who had the brilliant idea to put this behemoth here.)

Despite all these issues, I probably WILL visit the American Dream some time.  But not sometime in the near future.  I'll wait until the whole mall is open (which won't be until sometime next year).  I could be wowed; I could change my mind and if I do I will be the first one to admit it.  (I have no problem reversing my opinions!)  I do doubt that it will happen though...If you're going to place your bets on this one, I'd put a low percentage on me loving the place after visiting.

What I would take a bet on is how long this will last?  While I realize that this the American Dream and not your average mall, I have to wonder if it will be able to sustain itself.  I hope I'm wrong (I really do!), but I'm thinking that it's not going to last more than 3 years...Again, I hope I'm wrong, but...this American Dream doesn't seem to me to be one that can sustain.


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