EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium — at the East Rutherford, N.J., American Dream complex — recently announced its grand opening date in May.

The massive 25,000-square-foot aquarium will officially open to the public on May 4. According to Merlin Entertainments Limited, it will be themed around New York City’s most iconic monuments and landmarks, dubbed “City Under the Sea.”

“Welcoming our amazing sea creatures over the last few months has been an exciting process, and we can’t wait to entertain and educate our guests about the ocean, its inhabitants, and future preservation of our world oceans,” said General Manager Camille DePascale.

The attraction was initially slated to open on April 23, 2020, but was delayed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the last several months, the aquarium has welcomed thousands of creatures and about 100 species, from piranhas to jellyfish. The highly choreographed fish arrival process involved curating species from all over the world, arranging for their safe transport, coordinating a seamless arrival, and ensuring a supportive acclimation process.

It will be the 10th SEA LIFE aquarium in the United States, and the first in the Northeast.

In total, New Jersey’s SEA LIFE will be home to more than 3,000 creatures, with approximately 75 to 100 different species of fish and invertebrates from local and international waters. It will support salt-, fresh- and warm-water creatures.

New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium

The New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium will open May 4 at the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, N.J. (Courtesy/New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium)

SEA LIFE guests begin their adventure in the “Rush Hour of the Ocean” platform with subway-style adverts and swarming yellow eels, reminiscent of NYC taxi cabs. From there, the journey progresses into the “City’s Freshwater,” where visitors can engage with the indigenous fish from the Hudson River, and into the colorful “Urban Jungle,” where naturalistic flora and New York deco architecture intertwine among a variety of creatures.

“Sharks Fish Avenue” will showcase an imaginative display of storefront windows as the voyage continues through the underwater tunnel centerpiece with panoramic views of Manhattan landmarks, such as the Chrysler Building and Times Square, which will be set amid schools of tropical fish, sharks, rays and more.

The aquarium’s leading exhibit is the 186,000-gallon ocean tank, which is home to more than 1,000 creatures. including seven species of sharks, four species of stingrays, and 40 additional species of tropical fish. The ocean tank features New Jersey’s first underwater tunnel with panoramic views of “fishified” Manhattan landmarks, providing guests with a truly immersive and spectacular experience.

The attraction will also offer talks and events, feeding demonstrations, and more.

In addition to the attractions, the aquarium will also have health and safety measures amid the coronavirus. These include being prepared to limit capacity, social distancing through various signage and staff, and requiring face coverings. Enhanced cleaning measures will also be implemented throughout the day to clean and sanitize the aquarium.

“The health of our guests and employees is of utmost importance. We are taking proactive steps to provide visitors with a safe, comfortable environment when we welcome them on site,” said DePascale.

You can visit www.visitsealife.com/new-jersey for more information.


There will be several ways to visit New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium, including general admission tickets, annual passes, birthday party packages, school and group tickets and more. To purchase tickets, you can visit https://www.visitsealife.com/new-jersey/ (and click on tickets).

Tickets purchased online are $26.99 per adult and $21.99 per child, giving you access to all exhibits, including the underwater tunnel. A 12-month membership is $69.99 per person.


In addition to New Jersey SEA LIFE, Merlin will be opening LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey in the American Dream on May 4. The indoor playground for families with children ages 3 to 10, LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey will offer a highly interactive and educational experience with a range of exciting LEGO play areas.

American Dream is a 3-million-square-foot lifestyle center opening in stages.

The first phase consisted of The Thrills & Chills Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park — touted as the Western Hemisphere’s largest indoor theme park — which opened in October 2019. The Rink at American Dream, a regulation size ice rink, was also part of the initial opening phase.

Big SNOW opened in December 2019.

Projecting 40 million visitors annually, the American Dream complex, when finished will include more than 450 shops, services, and amenities, complemented by entertainment, food, art, and culture. American Dream will also feature a distinct shopping environment dedicated to iconic luxury brands and younger, fashion-forward retail.