Fly to the Moon After Interviewing Bon Jovi at NJ Hall of Fame Meadowlands

Gov. Murphy among dignitaries at the Tuesday (June 18) ribbon cutting at American Dream.

Gov. Murphy among dignitaries at the Tuesday (June 18) ribbon cutting at American Dream.

After riding in Henry Ford’s Model T, meeting Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and then spritzing across the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll rocket to the moon with astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly and even Buzz Aldrin. (Yes, they all hail from the Garden State.)

Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly from Orange, NJ were inducted into the NJHOF in 2023

You’ll start wondering if the breeze and water droplets you feel across your face are real or imagined and if you’re still at the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) at American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Did this ride/simulator/experience leave the building, ala Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

Of course you are still in the Meadowlands, strapped into cushiony seats with your ride mates. It’s the official ribbon cutting of the NJHOF’s Entertainment and Learning Center (ELC). The simulated space ride called “Fly Me to the Moon” is in-your-face real, especially for anyone who hasn’t strapped on virtual reality headgear or ventured into the metaverse. (And hasn’t played video games since Mario Brothers.)

The “Fly Me to the Moon” exhibit/ride is much more than a simulated 4D experience; it’s all Jersey, and spotlights the tech pioneers who danced in the dark with hopes and dreams.

Action-packed and always moving, the 8-minute flight simulator takes you on a ride while giving you a historical refresher. You walk away knowing New Jersey is the best and only place to live. You also walk away stunned and amazed because it all felt quite real and the 8-minutes felt like a lifetime of experiences.

That is just one aspect of what the NJHOF’s new permanent home at American Dream is about. The 10,000-square-foot ELC boasts state-of-the-art exhibits and aims to encourage people to “find their heroes and achieve their best.” It’s all high tech, interactive, informative, and fun. The customer becomes a “user” of the space more than a peruser. Touching everything is the only way to participate and everything comes to life.

Founded in 2005, the nonprofit’s inaugural class of inductees was in 2007 and to date, there have been 15 ceremonies honoring over 230 notable individuals and groups. Before now, NJHOF had popup locations at transit hubs and rest stops, including a Michael Graves-designed trailer that served as a mobile museum.

Funding for the $20 million, 10,000-square-foot NJHOF ELC was raised through a combination of State grants and private donations from sponsors. It was 20 years in the making.

“We punch way above our weight,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy at the ribbon cutting on Tuesday, June 18. The center opens to the public on Friday, June 28.

“We may be the smallest state geographically, but we’re the number one state in talent,” the governor said.

Murphy was joined by First Lady Tammy Murphy, NJHOF Chairman Jon F. Hanson, NJHOF President Steve Edwards, American Dream CEO Don Ghermezian, State Sen. Paul Sarlo, State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Sen. Joseph P. Cryan Cryan, and Sen. Gordon Johnson.

Also in attendance for the ribbon cutting were Hackensack Meridian Hospital CEO Bob Garrett, PSC Managing Partner Norris Clark, PPAG Partner David Adam Smith, and inductees Tommy James, comedian Joe Piscopo, members of The Smithereens, and four-time Olympic track star Joetta Clark Diggs.

“The State of New Jersey boasts a rich history full of iconic moments and legendary heroes, which will now be celebrated for the world to see at American Dream,” said Ghermezian.

“We are excited to inspire our guests with leading entertainers, athletes, and influential individuals from the arts, education, science, and public service sectors at this one-of-a-kind Entertainment and Learning Center,” Ghermezian added.

Singer Tommy James got up on The Karaoke Hologram Stage and sang a duet with his hologram self. Visitors can sing with various inductees and have friends photograph or video the performance. In another part of the ELC, visitors can interview hologram celebs, like Jon Bon Jovi, on the “Late Night Jersey” television set.

The NJHOF ELC is located on Court G, level 3, overlooking Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, and across from the Oreo Cafe. Admission: $20 NJ adults; $16 NJ children, $25 for out-of-state visitors. For updates:

About the New Jersey Hall of Fame

Because everyone needs a hero, the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) honors citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society, the State of New Jersey, and the world beyond. Since 2008, the NJHOF has hosted 15 ceremonies for more than 230 notable individuals and groups in recognition of their induction into the Hall of Fame. The NJHOF endeavors to present school children with significant and impactful role models to show that they can, and should, strive for excellence. The NJHOF is thankful for the support of its many sponsors, including Hackensack Meridian Health, without which none of our endeavors would be possible.

About American Dream

American Dream, developed by Triple Five Group, is over 3 million square feet of entertainment, retail and dining, just minutes away from New York City in the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, New Jersey.

American Dream is home to leading attractions, including DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, SEA LIFE Aquarium, Big SNOW Ski Hill, Dream Wheel – a 300-foot observation wheel overlooking the NYC skyline, as well as attractions debuting soon such as THE GAMEROOM Powered by Hasbro, Sesame Street Learn & Play and New Jersey Hall of Fame.

American Dream’s immersive luxury shopping and dining experience – The Avenue – features Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermès, Rolex, Cartier, Watches of Switzerland, Saint Laurent, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferrari, Gentle Monster, Canada Goose, Carpaccio, a fine-dining Italian restaurant, and much more. The retail and dining collection is further expanded with flagship locations for Aritzia, H&M, PRIMARK, Uniqlo, Sephora and Zara; as well as the Toys”R”Us global flagship, the only standalone location in the U.S, the first-ever MrBeast Burger restaurant, world renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Marcus Live! and the world’s first and only “candy department store,” IT’SUGAR.