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

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

It marks the first day that the 3-million-square-foot complex, nearly two decades in the making, will finally offer retail stores, including 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 numerous 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 three days earlier due to the Covid-19 crisis. 

Its current owners, Triple Five Group, are betting parents are eager 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 other nearby shopping malls like Westfield Garden State Plaza. 

American Dream has 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. Most of the restaurants are still being completed, too. And Triple Five says it plans to expand the complex to include hotels in coming years. 

“What we’re building is such a destination,” co-CEO Mark Ghermezian 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. 

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

Retailers including Old Navy and Primark are finally opening at American Dream. 

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

Hit by the pandemic, some tenants, like It’Sugar, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020. 

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

Luxury retail won’t open until 2021. 

Source: Lauren Thomas, CNBC

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