Inside Look: Woodbridge Center Mall in Woodbridge Township, NJ

The Birth and Evolution of Woodbridge Center

In 1971, Woodbridge Center Mall emerged as a retail innovation in Woodbridge Township, NJ, developed by The Rouse Company. Originally, this land hosted Maple Hill Dairy farm and old clay pits, marking a significant transformation into a bustling shopping destination.

The mall’s inception introduced a new era of shopping with initial anchors like Abraham & Straus, Ohrbach’s, and Stern’s, setting a solid foundation for retail diversity.

By 1978, the mall expanded, adding a new wing to accommodate Hahne’s, enhancing the shopping experience. This expansion was not just about size but variety and options.

In 1981, a significant shift occurred when J.C. Penney relocated from Menlo Park Mall to Woodbridge Center, adding to the mall’s allure. The evolution continued, and in 1987, the mall underwent a significant renovation.

This facelift included removing the stairwell next to the center court, updating flooring and lighting, and revamping mall entrances. These changes were not merely cosmetic; they redefined the shopping atmosphere, making the mall more inviting and modern.

The 2000s brought further growth and adaptation. 2003, the mall expanded again, welcoming a new 100,000-square-foot Galyan’s, marking the chain’s debut in New Jersey.

This addition was short-lived as Galyan’s transitioned to Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2004, reflecting the dynamic nature of retail and the mall’s ability to adapt to changing market demands.

The mall’s anchor stores have seen significant changes over the years. Notable closures include Lord & Taylor and Sears in 2019, reflecting broader retail industry challenges.

However, Woodbridge Center has continually adapted, welcoming new attractions like SeaQuest Interactive Aquariums in 2019 and Dave & Buster’s in 2017, their first locations in New Jersey.

These additions shifted the mall’s focus from traditional retail to entertainment and experiential offerings, aligning with evolving consumer preferences.

Things to do in Woodbridge Township, NJ, have expanded thanks to Woodbridge Center’s evolution. From its agricultural beginnings to a retail powerhouse, the mall has grown with its community. Its ability to adapt and evolve reflects retail landscapes’ resilience and changing dynamics.

As of March 2024, Woodbridge Center is a testament to adaptation, continuing to serve as a central shopping and entertainment hub in New Jersey.

Architectural Marvel and Design

Woodbridge Center stands out with its unique design elements. The four ‘W’ towers at the entrance are a signature feature, and they point in the compass directions, making the mall easily recognizable.

Inside, the mall spreads over two levels. Its layout is designed for easy walking and shopping, with wide aisles and clear signage. The central fountain, a focal point, adds a calming element amid the bustling shopping environment.

Unlike many malls, Woodbridge Center opted out of a centralized food court. Instead, eateries are scattered throughout, each with seating, offering shoppers variety and convenience.

The design of Woodbridge Center reflects a blend of functionality and style. Its architecture has adapted over the years to stay modern and welcoming. The mall’s interior, from lighting to flooring, has evolved, ensuring a pleasant shopping experience for all visitors.

Woodbridge Center entrance
Woodbridge Center entrance TopGear, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Shopping and Services

As of 2024, Woodbridge Center boasts 145 stores and services. Key retail anchors include Macy’s, Boscov’s, JCPenney, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. These major stores draw shoppers with a wide range of products, from fashion to sports equipment.

Beyond the big names, the mall offers a variety of specialty shops and services. Whether it’s fashion, electronics, or beauty, there’s something for everyone.

The mall’s layout, with stores of similar types often located near each other, makes it easy for shoppers to find what they need.

For families, the mall is more than shopping. It features attractions like a carousel, a train ride, and a play area called “Tiny Town.” These additions make Woodbridge Center a family-friendly destination, not just a place to shop.

Woodbridge Center food enthusiasts can explore various dining options catering to every palate. From casual American dining at Applebee’s, Bahama Breeze, and Red Robin to quick bites at Auntie Anne’s, Chick-fil-A, and Sbarro, there’s something for every craving.

Indulge in specialty treats at Cinnabon, Cold Stone Creamery, and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, or explore international flavors at Adebola African Restaurant, Latin Flavor, and Halal Eatz for those seeking a quick refreshment; options abound, from Starbucks to Real Fruit Bubble Tea.

Whether you’re in for a full meal or just a snack, Woodbridge Center offers a diverse culinary journey.

Current Anchors and Their Stories within Woodbridge Center


JCPenney has been a staple at Woodbridge Center since it moved from the nearby Menlo Park Mall in 1981.

This relocation marked a significant shift in the mall’s retail landscape, enhancing its variety and appeal. Over the years, JCPenney has adapted to changing consumer trends, offering a wide range of clothing, home goods, and services.

Despite the retail industry’s ups and downs, JCPenney has remained a constant, serving the local community and contributing to the mall’s diverse shopping experience.


Macy’s, another long-standing anchor, has its roots in the mall’s history as one of the original department stores, taking over the space from Stern’s.

Known for its wide selection of fashion, beauty products, and home decor, Macy’s has been a go-to destination for shoppers seeking quality and variety.

Over the years, Macy’s has hosted numerous events, from holiday celebrations to fashion shows, further embedding itself into the fabric of the mall and the community.


Boscov’s, a family-owned department store, added to the mall’s charm when it replaced Fortunoff, enhancing the shopping experience with its unique merchandise mix. Known for its customer service and community involvement, Boscov’s has become a favorite among shoppers.

The store’s presence at Woodbridge Center reflects its commitment to family values and community service, distinguishing it from other department stores.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods, which took over the space from Galyan’s in 2004, brought a new dimension to Woodbridge Center.

Catering to sports enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, Dick’s offers a wide range of athletic apparel, equipment, and accessories. Its arrival expanded the mall’s offerings, appealing to a broader audience and enhancing the shopping experience.

SeaQuest Woodbridge: A Unique Encounter Inside the Mall

SeaQuest Woodbridge offers a unique blend of sea and land adventures inside Woodbridge Center Mall. This interactive aquarium and zoo allow visitors to touch, feed, and interact with animals from five continents, providing an educational and entertaining experience unlike any other in the area.

The SeaQuest Woodbridge experience is designed to be immersive and interactive. Visitors can engage in several unique animal interactions.

For instance, during the Asian Otter Interaction, guests feed the otters and learn about their species, habitat, and conservation.

The Sloth Interaction introduces visitors to Flash, the adorable sloth, offering insights into their natural habitats and lifestyle and a memorable photo opportunity.

Another popular attraction is the Flying Squirrel Interaction, where visitors can watch these agile creatures glide through the air and even feed them.

This hands-on approach extends to various species, allowing guests a closer look at the animal kingdom and fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of wildlife.

SeaQuest Woodbridge is not just about animal interactions; it’s about education and conservation. The venue aims to educate visitors about the importance of animal conservation and how they can contribute to the welfare of animals in the wild.

This mission is reflected in their community initiatives and educational programs, making SeaQuest a valuable addition to the mall and the wider community.

Located conveniently inside Woodbridge Center Mall, SeaQuest Woodbridge is easily accessible, with recommended parking in the Lord and Taylor lot.

This makes it an ideal destination for families looking for educational and fun things to do, adding a unique dimension to the traditional mall experience.

Challenges and Changes

Over the years, Woodbridge Center has faced its share of challenges. The retail industry has changed, with online shopping becoming more popular.

This shift has affected foot traffic and sales for many physical stores. Despite these challenges, the mall has continued to adapt and find ways to attract visitors.

One of the biggest changes came with the closure of anchor stores like Lord & Taylor and Sears in 2019. These were significant losses, as anchor stores typically draw large shoppers.

However, Woodbridge Center responded by diversifying its offerings and bringing in new attractions like SeaQuest Interactive Aquariums and Dave & Buster’s.

The mall has also faced economic challenges, which led to its recent sale to JLL Properties in February 2024. This change in ownership marks a new chapter for Woodbridge Center, with potential for redevelopment and revitalization.

Despite these hurdles, the mall remains a key player in the community, adapting to meet its visitors’ changing needs and preferences.

New Ownership and Future Directions for Woodbridge Center Mall

In the 2020s, the mall is struggling against the rise of online shopping. Despite efforts to diversify its retail mix, the mall has faced challenges in maintaining its traditional retail model.

As a result, the mall, which boasts around 1.6 million square feet of space, was put up for sale in 2023, attracting considerable interest from potential buyers. A winning bidder (JLL Properties) has been selected, and contract negotiations are underway.

However, the township’s stance against converting any mall part into housing or warehouse space ensures that Woodbridge Center remains a shopping, dining, and entertainment hub.

This decision aligns with the community’s desire to maintain the mall’s original purpose while adapting to modern retail trends.

Furthermore, the Lord and Taylor store, a separate entity within the mall, is also nearing a sale. This development is expected to complement the mall’s new direction, potentially bringing in a workforce that could contribute to the mall’s customer base.

As the fourth-largest shopping mall in New Jersey, Woodbridge Center has been a staple in the state’s retail landscape.

Located off Route 1 in one of New Jersey’s most populous municipalities, the mall’s evolution reflects broader retail and community development trends.

With new ownership and a clear vision for the future, Woodbridge Center Mall is set to embark on a new chapter, aiming to rejuvenate its space and offerings to meet the changing needs of its visitors.

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