Halloween happenings: The Haunted Hotel of Arkansas
Posted Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 3:26 PM
The Haunted Hotel of Arkansas: "Frequent screamer miles accepted, best heart rate in town and where we NEVER leave the light on."
It is that time of year again when the promise of All Hallows' Eve lurks around the corner amidst the scent of pumpkin-spiced pies, the stickiest caramel apples and cookies decorated as witches, black cats, spooks, specters and ghosts. Summer subsides and cool, dark nights invite families and friends to partake in the spectacle and fun Halloween imparts.
Cities become playgrounds for children and adults alike. Shadowy towns, murky streets and otherwise dim homes and businesses are bathed brightly in lights emanating from costume parties, jagged jack-o'-lanterns, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and unlimited trick-or-treating sites. And last, but certainly not least, the haunted house accords people the chance to battle the fright and fears that lie secretly in wait - shrouded in the blackest autumn nights.
The Haunted Hotel has been a staple in Central Arkansas for over 20 years, presenting some the most charismatic characters, horrifying haunts and pound-for-pound psychopaths stuffed into any one haunted attraction. And it all started with a young boy and his love of All Hallows' Eve aka Halloween.
As a child, Mikey Bolding held a reverence and fascination for all things Halloween. But unlike most children, Bolding's allure to the holiday pushed him to create his first haunt.
"I have always loved Halloween, even as a young boy I loved to dress up and scare people," Bolding remembered. "Around the age of 13 my cousin and I decided to build a haunted house at a vacant house across the street from my grandparents' home, where we lived. We got permission from the owners and went to work immediately building a haunted house."
Bolding might have only been a teenager, but that didn't detour him. In fact, Bolding's first endeavor of fright paid off for the 13-year-old.
"It was our first one, but we had a blast building it," Bolding recounted. "And it was a good haunted house. And everyone that came through loved it and complimented us on it."
With the success of his first haunted house, Bolding did not rest on his laurels. Instead, the teenager took things a step further the following Halloween with a little help.
"The next year a friend of ours, that lived in an apartment not far from there, decided that she would let us do one in her apartment. So, we took off to another haunted house adventure. For an apartment, it was great as well."
While Norman Bates and his mother had a very precarious relationship in Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film "Psycho" (1960), Bolding and his mom were much closer. And it was through the family matriarch Mr. Bolding was able to take his haunts to a whole new level.
"My mom, Kathy Chism, saw how much we liked doing Haunted Houses," Bolding said. "We could actually make them scary, and how much people enjoyed coming to them. So, she decided that we needed to go bigger and better. She looked around for a big building and lo and behold she found what was the Little Rock Expo Center, at the county line, back then. She knew the man from Malvern who was in charge of it and she managed to get him to rent a portion of it to us."
"So, we take off on the biggest adventure yet and we provided to the public one of the biggest and best haunted houses that year that was around," Bolding recalled. "People came from everywhere and stood in line for hours just to go through the Haunted Hotel, but back then it had a different name. There was never less than a 100 people in line and everyone said it was well worth the wait."
And Bolding's haunted adventures led him to success in both his burgeoning professional and personal lives.
"This is where I met my wife, Becky Bolding, and from there we made it a yearly event," Bolding said. "Our location was never the same, with the exception of a couple of places where we got to rent the same building a couple years in a row. Even at the start of the Haunted Hotel we always went big and never had less than 30 to 40 monsters working in the Haunted Hotel, and it was different rooms and monsters every year."
Now, after two decades of delightfully, delicious decadence in the habit of haunting Central Arkansas, the Haunted Hotel stands as a mainstay during the month of October each year. Want to know more about checking into this hideously heinous haunted house? Want to know your chances of checking out alive? Hear from the man himself: Mikey Bolding.
How scary is the Haunted Hotel?
"We take great pride in trying to give everyone their money's worth and we try to scare everyone that comes through," Bolding said. "The Haunted Hotel doors feature thrills, chills and room service that kills, including midnight red meat buffet and indoor blood pools."
What sets the Haunted Hotel apart from the other haunted attractions in Arkansas?
"I believe that our Haunted Hotel stands apart from the rest because we never have animated characters," Bolding said. "All of our monsters are real and most have been with us from the beginning. They are like real actors that play their role very well. We definitely appreciate all our monsters and the job they do also."
"We have people that literally come through after waiting for hours in line sometimes and purchase another ticket just to wait again and come back through to get their scare on again," Bolding continued. "We have had buses pull up and unload that had heard about our haunted house and go through it. Some can make it through and there are some that have to be escorted back out because they just can't take all the scare."
Are there any age restrictions when visiting the Haunted Hotel?
"We tell parents with children younger than 10 that they may want to make sure their child can handle it, as most think they can and find out later that they can't," Bolding explained. "Adults that have purchased tickets have stood in line and changed their minds before it gets their turn and end up leaving. We do have people on site that will watch the younger ones that don't want to go through so the parents and others can enjoy the scare that only the haunted house provides."
What are the advantages of buying a Speed Pass compared to the regular admission price?
"Our Speed Pass is a pass anyone can purchase for a few extra dollars and it takes them to the front of the line so they don't have to wait for an hour or more to go through," Bolding explained.
What changes can visitors expect at the Haunted Hotel on Family Night?
"The only change on our family night is the price," Bolding said. "You get a discount on family night that's much cheaper than our regular nights."
What's new at the Haunted Hotel in 2016?
"The haunted Hotel changes up every year as far as the scenes, characters, etc.," said Bolding. "One of our changes this year is there are scenes right out of the movies. One of them being Freddy Kruger, actually pulling the girl right out of bed while she's having the dream like you see in the movie."
"The patrons can expect many characters like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and so many more," Bolding said. "We have rooms that only monsters could dream up and each room represents the monster that plays the part in his/her room. I will say that they will definitely get your heart to racing, so if you have a bad heart or anxiety you may want to think twice. I can't really tell you all the monsters and rooms the haunted hotel has or it would be no surprise to you when you come through, although I'm sure they would catch you by surprise and still scare you to death."
How long does a trip through the Haunted Hotel typically take?
"The haunted hotel is very large and has many rooms and dark hallways and it generally takes our guides about 15 to 20 minutes to walk a group through," Bolding explained. "Now, some groups will be so scared that they will literally push and try to run to get out. And yes, the walls have been torn down many times as they try to push their way through."
How long does it take to set up the Haunted Hotel each Halloween season?
"We start building the Haunted Hotel between June and July every year and it generally takes a full three months to get it built as we want to give everyone the best and the scariest for their money," Bolding explained. "There's a lot of hard work and time that goes into building a great haunted house."
What kind of special effects and props are used at the Haunted Hotel?
"The Haunted Hotel has a lot of special effects that most haunted houses don't have," Bolding explained. "And the main one is you don't come around a corner and are greeted by an animated monster. You will actually be scared out of your gourd as a live, breathing monster is in each room or around the next corner. We have witnessed grown men running out leaving their wife/girlfriend behind, we've seen people come out with wet pants. And some are even crying and running to their cars as some the monsters will literally follow them to their cars."
The Haunted Hotel accepts reservations and walk-ins on the following dates: September 29 and 30; October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 18-22, 24-31.
Hours of operation: 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Speed Pass: $20
Family Night: October 24 and 25. Three family members can take the haunted tour for only $25.
Location: 5503 Scott Hamilton Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72204.
Check the Haunted Hotel's Facebook page for updates concerning the coming season and the location of Bolding's Haunted Hotel in 2017. https://www.facebook.com/hauntedhotelar