Becton Senior Class Experiences the American Dream on Opening Day

Jenny Marcinkowski, Lead Editor: District Initiatives & Community Affairs

How often do you get to be apart of the opening of the second largest entertainment complex in America? Becton’s Senior class, along with class officers, got the opportunity to visit the American Dream mega-mall on its soft opening date of October 25th. The mall finally opened in East Rutherford after nearly 17 years of construction. 

“I thought that the trip to the American Dream was a historic moment for our community, our school district, and our students, some of which were born and some of which weren’t even born yet when the first shovel went into the ground to build the American Dream,” said Superintendent/Principal Dr. Sforza. “For them to finally be a part of the opening, prior to graduating, is certainly going to serve as another memorable Becton moment.”

Dr. Sforza feels that the executives from the American Dream have been very generous and are willing to partner with Becton in many different ways that go beyond just an opening day field trip. “The future prospects of our educational and extracurricular partnerships are bright and include, but are not limited to, curriculum, career tracks, internship opportunities, job opportunities, classroom trips, club activities, and the creation of new athletic teams,” said Dr. Sforza.

Becton students are already seeing the benefits of the entertainment complex being in their town. Many students have been able to score a job at the place, even in places of the complex that have not opened yet.

“I am really appreciative to have gotten the opportunity to visit the American Dream. It felt like I was a part of history and I love the idea of one day being able to tell my kids that I was there the first day the American Dream opened,” said Senior Martha Kato. “It’s crazy to see how tall and expansive some of these rides were and how much they were able to fit within an enclosed space.”

Nickelodeon Universe includes 5 roller coasters, two of which are not opened yet. One of roller coasters, the TMNT Shellraiser, has a 97-degree drop that makes it the steepest roller coaster drop in the world. Another coaster, The Shredder, has the title of the world’s longest and tallest free spinning roller coaster. According to CNBC, roughly 2,500 were at the mall’s opening on Friday.

“As much as this experience was fun, I can’t wait to see the many ways Becton will benefit from being the hometown high school. Maybe one day, Becton will be able to send students to intern there,” said Senior Nicolle Okumura. 

To New Jersey residents, the mall was once an infamous landmark in the Meadowlands. In 2002, the mall was just a proposal for an entertainment and shopping complex. The American Dream was then the Xanadu, a project owned by Mills Corporation that was going to span 2.6 million square feet and, according to, was to include, “an indoor Alpine ski resort, an indoor mini Formula One style raceway, minor league baseball stadium, an extreme sports park, a movie palace and a small-format live entertainment venue.”

In 2005, when the $2 billion project broke ground, it expanded to 4.6 million square feet and was to be completed in 2007. In 2010, Mills Corp. went bankrupt and bankers took control of the mall. The project was then left in the midst of being constructed and with no owner. In 2011, Triple Five Group, which owns The Mall of America, the largest mall in the U.S., and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, the largest mall in North America, acquired the project. In 2015, construction resumed and the mall was stripped of its colorful exterior. 

What opened on Friday was one of four phases, the next phases includes The Dreamworks Water Park and the Big Snow ski slope, which opens November 27 and December 5, 2019, respectively. Finally, in March 2020, 450 stores will open along with SEA LIFE Aquarium, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, CMX Luxury Movie Theatre, Kidzania, a 300’ Observation Wheel, and several dining options. The American Dream will be the largest mall in America by retail space.