Completely Indoor Wavepool Opens In New Jersey’s American Dream Mall
It resides just outside New York City, is fully indoors, and will pump chlorinated wedges 365!
Wavepool mania continues!
Following Wavegarden’s Cove technology opening at Bristol, England’s ‘The Wave’ and Melbourne, Australia’s URBNSURF in successive weeks, would you believe that a third pool, of a different build, in yet another continent, is pumping its first waves in late October?
This time we’re in the land of the Free and the home of the Hoagies—good ol’ New Joisey, USA—where an American Wave Machines pool recently finished construction after first being sanctioned in 2013. Causing the delay was a long list of issues with the site of the pool itself—the $5B super-mall/theme park, American Dream. But after 15 years of planning, financing, construction, changes in ownership, and of course refinancing, they finally opened the first section of the mall two days ago.
The wavepool will be open to the public sometime later this year.
You might remember American Wave Machines’ chamber-based technology from their inaugural site in Waco, Texas—home of the finest aerial event in all of surfing (though we’re biased), Stab High. While the Waco pool has 24 chambers (the chambers are what push water out to create the wave) across its back wall, the American Dream version has just 16, as the pool itself is a relatively confined space. This means: shorter, smaller, and weaker waves than Waco.
“If you want to compare it to skating, it’s like Waco is the deep end of a pool and American Dream is the shallow end. It’s still super fun, but it’s definitely a scaled-down version,” said Rob Kelly, a New Jersey-based professional surfer who, along with Pat Schmidt, Quincy Davis, and 9-year-old pool popper Cruz Dinofa, was at American Dream to test the new facility on its opening day.
While we haven’t visited the American Dream site just yet, here’s what we know about it thus far from pictures, videos, interviews, and the internet:
- While the site is technically in New Jersey, it’s just a 20-minute drive from Manhattan
- The complex itself is unfathomably massive, and features: indoor rollercoasters, a Nickelodeon-themed amusement park, a waterpark, an indoor ski ramp(!), a massive retail space, an indoor wavepool, and much, much more
- The mall should be open year-round and the pool will be heated, meaning it will be possible to surf in boardshorts in New Jersey through winter
We asked Rob a few burning questions.
Stab: Give it to us straight. How’s the air section?
Rob Kelly: It’s pretty comparable to Waco as far as shape goes, but it’s just a little bit smaller.
We saw one clip [now deleted] where a surfer got pretty close to the sidewall. Is it possible to smash into that thing if you’re unaware, off-balance, or unskilled? Are our boards gonna get obliterated?
The clip you saw was probably from their initial testing. With a little tweaking, they were able to design the wave so you couldn’t run straight into the wall. It’s kind of like a jetty or pier—the energy bounces off of it, so, in my experience, you can’t really hit the wall.
Can they still run sets, or does “backwash” from the sidewall render the second and third waves unsurfable?
There’s definitely backwash, but in a weird way the sidewalls almost limit the amount of dwell time, because all the energy goes straight toward the shore. So it actually cleans up pretty quickly between waves. And they’re still able to run sets.
Is this something you could actually see locals paying to surf?
For sure. Whether it’s a long summer flat-spell or you just want to get out of your 5-mil in winter, this place would be epic to come with your friends, hang out, surf, do a few airs, whatever. It’s obviously not the same as ocean surfing, but it’s a nice alternative to have.
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