Jack Goes Confidential: Ward Parkway 14—One Year Past Conversion

25AMC’s visionary founder Stan Durwood would’ve loved to have seen what has become of his historic movie theater in South Kansas City….

I’m talking about the AMC Ward Parkway 14 which in another life, in 1963 – became the first multiplex (twin screen) movie theater anywhere.

Its immediate success changed the way America would choose movie theaters and watch movies.

Decade later two screens turned into a dozen and additional screens on the ground floor of the mall were later added. And while AMC never gave up on the theaters, the complex had begun to show its age.

So what happens to older theaters having to compete against newer and fancier operations? Some are turned into so-called dollar or discount houses. Others just attempt to keep up with changing times in the hopes of they going on forever.

And of course, many fail.

AMCPopcorn*600Which brings us back to Ward Parkway 14 which just over a year ago became one of several early adapters in AMC’s experimental program of converting older properties into destination theaters.

And let me tell you right here and now, the future of movie going has arrived.

AMC pretty well gutted the auditoriums and, according to AMC spokesperson Ryan Noonan, reduced original seating by a minimum of 50%—and in some cases as much as 70% per auditorium. Talk about drastic.

The once typical theater seats were removed in favor of plush Power Recliners with foot rests.

You heard that right.

Just press a button and the seat automatically goes into motion and you stop it at your perfect comfort level.

And as for spacing between the rows? You couldn’t ask for more. Think in terms of flying first class instead of coach.

Oh, and there’s also a lobby bar.

20121209-111614In other words, the AMC Ward Parkway 14 is nothing short of spectacular.

Has the transformation increased attendance at the complex (even with far fewer seats)?

It’s more than doubled according to AMC’s Noonan, who tells me that the upgrade program is now being rolled out throughout company’s network of theaters.

Competitors have taken notice.

I’ve heard of similar transformations being in planning stages or currently in the process of being implemented in various parts of the country.

So what goes around—comes around.

The Ward Parkway Theater: Once it made entertainment headlines for twinning itself. And now, some 50 years later, for converting into the most luxurious motion picture complex in greater Kansas City.

That’s right, there is no finer movie multiplex here. Not even close.


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8 Responses to Jack Goes Confidential: Ward Parkway 14—One Year Past Conversion

  1. Hot Carl says:

    Haven’t been there since the riff raff turned a movie going experience into a death defying stunt. I’ll give it another try if I don’t need to wear my kevlar vest any more.

  2. gene says:

    We saw “The Heat” at Ward Parkway. It was the first time we’d been there in years. Quite an experience. We’ll be back for sure.

  3. PB says:

    Ever since rediscovering this theater, it’s been hard for me to go anywhere else to see a movie and even with the plush seating, still only $5 during the week. They also have a self-serve Coke Freestyle fountain (meaning an almost infinite number of soda possibilities) in the lobby area that basically offers unlimited refills. This place kicks ass, but my advice, get there early (well before previews even) as seating is very limited due to the smaller theaters.

  4. jon says:

    Looks great. Must check out.

  5. Daniel says:

    Not too excited or impressed by the idea of recliners in a movie theater. I went and saw a movie there last week and since its the summertime, I got to look at everybody’s nasty bare feet kicked up on the foot rests. Gross. Ill stick to regular theaters. If I wanted to watch a movie in a recliner like a lazy douche Id just stay at home.

    • Daniel says:

      If comfort is the main idea here why not just bring in adjustable hospital beds? Maybe a theater attendant can go around and charge $30 for foot massages while you watch the movie. Lame.

    • Interesting Fact says:

      Wait till you’re sitting there and all of sudden you hear snoring. I kid you not some guy was sawing logs no doubt. They made him leave.

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