Posted on May 28, 2020
By Caitlan Butler
Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer announced Tuesday that Excalibur Family Entertainment Center, a family-oriented party venue, will be establishing a site in El Dorado.
“I want to do a big, humongous, gigantic thank you to Bill Luther and the staff at the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce for working diligently with not only this, but other things that I’m sure will be coming forward very, very soon,” the mayor said. “That’s one of the things we’ve talked about is something for children to do, for families to do as a whole, and even in the middle of this pandemic, great things are still happening.”
Luther, who is President and Chief Executive Officer for the Chamber of Commerce, and who also was one of Smith-Creer’s opponents in El Dorado’s 2018 mayoral election, said the two both heard consistently during their campaigns that local residents were hungry for family- and children-oriented entertainment.
“When I went to work for the Chamber, I promised our Mayor we would do our best to recruit family entertainment businesses to El Dorado,” Luther said in an email correspondence Tuesday. “My first week on the job, I had a long discussion with Brandon Barnette, our project manager, on different types of retail business we could recruit. He stated ‘it would be great if we could bring an establishment like Excalibur in West Monroe to El Dorado.’” Barnette set to work contacting the company’s owner and pitching a local site.
“This is all Brandon,” Luther said. “With a lot of work, [he] brought Excalibur to town. Brandon is a rock star.”
A website for the local venue has already been established; residents can check for updates at excaliburark.com . The website highlights some of the new venue’s attractions, which include laser tag in a blacklight arena; virtual reality consoles for up to six players boasting 140 different games; a 1,200 square foot soft foam indoor playground with tunnels, slides and a ball pit; hydraulic racing simulators for up to four players; and over 50 arcade games.
“Many of the schools in south Arkansas have had reward field trips at the West Monroe, La. location and many south Arkansas families have traveled to host their children’s birthday parties there,” Barnette said. “Local residents should expect a somewhat similar venue here.”
The local Excalibur site will be located in what was formerly Walgreen’s in the Northwest Village Shopping Center at 1900 N. West Avenue in El Dorado. According to the local website, the company hopes to open the venue as early as this fall.
“I am excited that our young people and church groups will have an entertainment venue here in El Dorado,” Luther said. “This is something we have needed for a long time.”
Barnette said the venue will offer food and beverage in addition to their games and activities, and according to Excalibur’s local website, families can book parties. Luther said it means a lot to see investment in El Dorado despite the economic uncertainty generated as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to give my personal thanks to the owner, who is willing to invest in El Dorado during the uncertain times that COVID-19 has brought on,” he said.