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The project to build a new indoor Dreamworks theme park in East Rutherford, New Jersey has moved a step closer to reality after local authorities gave it the thumbs-up.

The Jersey Journal reports that the American Dream Meadowlands mall has been granted approval by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to add the theme park, as well as a water park.

The project to build a mall in East Rutherford was originally approved in late 2003, when it was known as Meadowlands Xanadu. The exterior was completed in 2008, with a significant amount of interior work having also been undertaken. However, work ceased in May 2009 after a subsidiary of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers investment bank missed payments, causing other backers to pull out.

In July 2012, Dreamworks Animation struck a deal with developer Triple Five to bring an indoor theme park to the mall, boasting rides and shows based on popular franchises including Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. At the time, the developer hoped that the park could debut alongside the mall in 2014, but this timetable appears to be unlikely following a further period of stagnation.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie predicted in December 2012 that construction work on the project would recommence in January 2013. However, objections to plans from the New York Giants and Jets (tenants of the nearby Giants Stadium) have further stalled progress.

DreamWorks has previously licensed its characters for use in individual theme park attractions, such as the Shrek 4-D shows at Universal Studios theme parks. It also agreed to license its properties for use in a park that would have formed part of the ambitious Dubailand project, but this deal collapsed following the 2008 credit crunch.

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