New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey: A Mom's Honest Review & Quick Guide to Visiting

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium is ofFISHally celebrating their grand opening on June 15th, along with LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey! I got a sneak peek of both locations at American Dream in East Rutherford, so read on and I'll show you what they're all about!


Disclosure: I was provided with a media preview of New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey in exchange for this honest review. But what do I always say? No one is paying me to give a positive review, so rest assured that I wouldn't recommend something to you if I didn't love it.


I am making this post super-informative for those who want to visit New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium, leaving out  the super-fine details to make it more efficient. I also don't want to spoil the entire experience for you by sharing every single thing I saw (you need to see it for yourself!).  If you want to read more up-close details about the planning phases of New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium or descriptions of each attraction, be sure to check out my previous New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium posts or visit the New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium website.


Where is New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium?

New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium is located inside American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It is closest to parking lot A, and it's inside the mall, connected to LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey (if you're wondering why, it's because both attractions are owned and operated by the 2nd largest attraction operator in the world, Merlin Entertainments Ltd, but more on that in a minute). Once you arrive you will take an elevator down to the exhibits, so don't expect to see much upstairs in the lobby area. The action is down below, I assure you! Also important to note is that LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey is not the same as LEGOLAND theme park. The discovery center is an indoor 'LEGO playground,' if you will, with hands-on activities, displays and play areas. 


Parking for New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium

If you park in level one in lot A at American Dream, New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium is literally a short walk straight ahead and to the right. Easy to get to! Parking tip: as of the publication date of this post, parking is free for the first 3 hours, then $2.00 an hour beyond that. Bring your parking ticket with you inside, since there are prepay machines indoors and it will save you time when leaving. 









What Will I See at New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium?

For a full list of New Jersey SEA LIFE's exhibits, check out their exhibit list here. I also highly recommend viewing their indoor map before you visit, just so you don't miss anything. It is not a big place but there are a lot of small details and spots that can easily be overlooked. Here's what you can expect:
  • over ten exhibits with beautifully themed with New York icons and landmarks
  • sharks, manta rays, pufferfish, seashorses, jellyfish and so many cool sea creatures can be seen here (do NOT expect beluga whales or seals or anything like that - this is a small venue, people, so keep your expectations reasonable)
  • touch tank area with starfish, sea urchins, and other beauties, supervised by an experienced SEA LIFE associate
  • ocean tunnels and viewing areas that are fun for kids, including ones you can climb into and pop your head inside. There are viewing portholes at different levels for children, too, so they really feel like they're on the ocean floor!
  • beautiful, adorable detail around every corner! Really look carefully- the whole venue is made to feel like a "city under the sea," so you'll find New York landmarks in the tanks (like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, as well as a walk-through feel of "fishified" New York City streets and subways.
  • play area/mini climbing playground at the end of your visit (see pics below)



How Long Does it Take to Visit New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium?

The aquarium itself is not a big place so it won't take you long to go through it. I have a few pieces of advice if you want to get your money's worth:

  • consider a membership (which is like their season pass). If you think you're going to go more than once a year, this is truly the best value. You can read more about their membership options here.
  • I highly recommend buying package tickets for New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey. You can do both in one day for sure and you can really get more bang for your buck that way. The venues are connected so you don't have to leave one to go to another. They literally flow into each other. 
  • I know this isn't always easy with little ones, but try not to rush through exhibits. I was there by myself on a press visit, walked through twice and still missed some things. For instance, there are buttons you can push and screens to touch and read. There are photo ops and character visits (be on the lookout for Sharky!). You can change the colors in the "disco jellyfish" exhibit if you push the buttons. So be sure to see everything!

What Age is New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium Best For?

Truth to be told, during my visit I saw visitors of just about every age. There were infants, toddlers, grade school kids, middle schoolers, and even grandparents enjoying the aquarium. I really feel like it's for everyone. 


What Safety and Health Precautions Has New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium Taken?

You can read their entire safety and health policy here. Masks were optional for vaccinated guests but most people were wearing them. Almost every child I saw was wearing a mask but not all. Do what's right for your family! I did notice SEA LIFE team members cleaning exhibits, and visitors were asked to wash their hands before using the touch tank. 



Good to Know

  • SEA LIFE is handicapped accessible and stroller friendly (there are elevators and stairs, if necessary).  
  • New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium can host birthday parties, scouts, schools, and groups. Check their website for more info!
  • Check their Know Before You Go FAQ page for any important details I might have missed.
  • New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium is beautifully themed. Take a moment to really look around while you're there- at the 'subway station' theme or the stop lights with turtle crossing signs. I absolutely loved the Sharks & Co area, where the displays glowed and the walls sparkled to embody the 'jewels of the sea.' So many little touches make this a unique attraction. I absolutely love the New York theme
  • There is a small gift shop at the end of your journey through the attraction. Note to New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium: please offer adult-sized t-shirts! I really wanted one and was bummed that you only had kid sizes available. 
  • SEA LIFE is dedicated to conservation and education. I fully educated myself about SEA LIFE and their mission, beliefs and efforts before visiting. You can read more about their conservation projects here.
  • there is a restroom conveniently located inside New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium (good to know, right?) 


New Jersey SEA LIFE® Aquarium, a 25,000-square-foot aquarium, and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center New Jersey, the ultimate indoor LEGO® playground for families, will have its grand opening on  June 15, 2021 at American Dream in East Rutherford, N.J. Both attractions are owned and operated by the 2nd largest attraction operator in the world, Merlin Entertainments Ltd. Stay in touch via their social channels here:

New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium website: https://www.visitsealife.com/new-jersey/
New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sealifenj/
New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sealifenj/
New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium Twitter: https://twitter.com/sealifeusa


But wait, there's more! Read on to hear a little bit about LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey.
(*note that some of this info is repetitive from above, which I offered in case people wanted to skip ahead to this section instead of reading through the SEA LIFE postings)

Where is LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey Located?

LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey and New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium are located inside American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They are closest to parking lot A, and it's  inside the mall, connected to New Jersey SEA LIFE Aquarium (if you're wondering why, it's because both attractions are owned and operated by the 2nd largest attraction operator in the world, Merlin Entertainments Ltd, as stated above). Once you arrive you will take an elevator down to the exhibits, so don't expect to see much upstairs in the lobby area. Like I said before, the action is down below (what you will see, though, is a cool LEGO store attached to the venue, so be sure to check that out, as they have some pretty unique and hard-to-find LEGO sets, although not much offered with the LEGOLAND Discovery Center NJ logo).


Where Do I Park for LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey?

If you park in level one in lot A at American Dream, LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey and SEA LIFE New Jersey are literally a short walk straight ahead and to the right. Easy to get to! Parking tip: as of the publication date of this post, parking is free for the first 3 hours, then $2.00 an hour beyond that. Bring your parking ticket with you inside, since there are prepay machines indoors and it will save you time when leaving. 


What Can I See at LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey?

Although this is a small venue, you could easily spend a few hours here since there are a lot of things for kids to do, build and explore. You can see their entire list of attractions here, but in a nutshell you'll find:

  • Imagination Express mini ride
  • LEGO 4D Cinema 
  • Miniland
  • LEGO Creative Workshop
  • DUPLO Park
  • LEGO Racers Build & Test
  • LEGO Ninjago Soft Play (socks required! This is their fun jungle gym-type area)
  • LEGO Friends Heartlake City
  • Earthquake Tables
  • Character Meet and Greets
Be sure to view their attractions map online so you know what to expect and what you want to explore. 


Can I Eat Inside LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey?

LEGO Cafe & Coffee Shop is located right within LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey. It's adorable with plenty of seating and they offer beverages and snacks. If you want a full lunch you can always plan to eat at the American Dream complex, since there are food venues inside the mall itself (with more coming soon). You cannot bring your own food into the center. 


What Age is LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey Best For?

LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey is recommended for ages 3-12 but older children will not get as much out of the experience as younger children, in my opinion (if you have a super huge LEGO tween at home they might enjoy it, but most activities and attractions are geared toward ages 3-10, in this mom's opinion). 


What Safety and Health Precautions Has LEGOLAND New Jersey Taken?

You can read LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey's entire safety and health policy here. Masks were optional for vaccinated guests but most people were wearing them. Pretty much every child I saw was wearing a mask, which made me want to wear mine since I know kids under 12 are not vaccinated. 


Good to Know

  • adults must be accompanied by a child to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey. They will  hold exclusive adult nights soon! 
  • You can't come and go from the center, so plan your time here accordingly! 
  • Don't miss the gift shop as there were some hard-to-find LEGO items here and some exclusive LEGOLAND theme park items (as of the publication date of this entry)
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey can host birthday parties, groups, scout events and more, so be sure to call for more info!
  • encourage your kids to take their time exploring Miniland! It was amazing and there was so much to see. It's especially fun to watch Miniland change from day to night (and the fireworks display!)

New Jersey SEA LIFE® Aquarium, a 25,000-square-foot aquarium, and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center New Jersey, the ultimate indoor LEGO® playground for families, will have its grand opening on  June 15, 2021 at American Dream in East Rutherford, N.J. Both attractions are owned and operated by the 2nd largest attraction operator in the world, Merlin Entertainments Ltd. Stay in touch via their social channels here:

LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey website: https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/new-jersey/
LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ldcnewjersey/
LEGOLAND Discovery Center New Jersey Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ldcnewjersey/


Tickets for SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND Discovery Center are available for purchase. For more information visit: https://www.visitsealife.com/new-jersey/ and https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/new-jersey/




































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