A look inside the American Dream megamall in New Jersey, as it reopens during the pandemic

  • The 3-million-square-foot American Dream complex in New Jersey reopens at 11 a.m. Thursday. 
  • In addition to the attractions like the ski slope and ice rink, a number of retailers will finally be open for business. 
  • American Dream has faced a number of setbacks in its nearly two-decades-long history. 

Shut for nearly seven months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the American Dream megamall in New Jersey reopensThursday. 

It marks the first day that the 3-million-square-foot complex, nearly two decades in the making, will have a number of retailers open — like Zara, Lush, American Eagle and Aritzia. Attractions like a DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Theme Park, Angry Birds mini golf, an indoor ski slope and an ice rink will be open for business again.

American Dream has experienced a number of setbacks, including delayed openings, in the course of its history under various owners. The first wave of retail had been slated to open March 19, but the mall was forced shut on March 16 due to the Covid-19 crisis. 

Its current owners, Triple Five Group, are betting parents are anxious to get out of the house and entertain their kids at American Dream for the afternoon. They're betting consumers will want to shop at the megamall, despite there already being a number of other shopping malls like Westfield Garden State Plaza in the area. 

American Dream has a number of new safety precautions due to the pandemic. Capacity is being capped at 25%. Facial coverings are required. And signage throughout the complex encourages social distancing, with QR codes outside the attractions to encourage contact-free check-ins. 

Not everything is opening Thursday at American Dream. A massive luxury retail wing anchored by the department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is expected to open in March 2021. Most of the restaurants are still being completed, too. And Triple Five says it plans to expand the complex to include hotels in the coming years. 

"What we're building is such a destination," Mark Ghermezian, co-CEO of American Dream, told CNBC. "And because of what's happening with Covid, retailers are now choosing destinations to open up." 

CNBC visited American Dream earlier this week, ahead of the grand reopening. Here's a look inside. 

A number of retailers, including Old Navy and Primark, are finally opening at American Dream. 

Hit by the pandemic, some of its tenants, like It'Sugar, have filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020. 

QR codes are positioned outside attractions like black-light mini golf to encourage contact-free ticket transactions and check-in. 

Signs outside the Nickelodeon Theme Park call for social distancing and other safety measures. 

American Dream will allow visitors to visit the theme park during one of two time slots each day, with capacity constraints. 

Lifeguards at the water park must wear waterproof masks and have been trained on how to do their jobs safely during the pandemic. 

Body temperature scanners sit outside the DreamWorks Water Park and Nickelodeon Theme Park. 

One of the few features that were preserved from the original project when it was known as Xanadu is this wood-paneled ceiling. 

Luxury retail won't open until 2021. 

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