Much like casts of “Saturday Night Live” or actors playing James Bond, every Austin resident has “their” Alamo Drafthouse location. For many old school Austinites, the original downtown location will always be the “real” Drafthouse.
For a lot of people, the location on South Lamar – having long been the home for both Fantastic Fest and Butt-Numb-A-Thon – will be the theater that stands out in their mind. Which is why so many were heartbroken when the theater, along with its sister bar The Highball, were closed down two years ago for a complete rebuilding. Even if it wasn’t going to be gone for long, the new theater couldn’t be nearly as great as the old one, could it?
Well, this weekend, we’ll all have the chance to find out for ourselves as both the Alamo Drafthouse and The Highball reopen to the public. Until then, they’ve released some photos of the brand spanking new joint, which we’re pleased to share with you below. This new Drafthouse will feature nine screens, ranging from 46 to 198 seats. Unlike some of the newer Alamo locations, such as the Lakeline theater, the South Lamar Drafthouse will feature the old bar-style tables. Every screen will feature digital 4K projectors showing on massive screens.
The Highball has the same look but regular visitors will notice some significant changes. The first and most obvious is the lack of bowling alleys. while unfortunate, it will save the Drafthouse a ton in maintenance costs. That’s money that can go towards booking fun live acts, upgrading the sound system and putting on more interesting events. The alleys aren’t entirely gone as the floor and bar are made from their wood.
There’s still a stage and a open ballroom, with booths and more tables in the back and a large patio behind that. The outdoor area isn’t as expansive as the one at Glass Half Full (the bar attached to the Alamo Lakeline), but it’s still big enough to handle a large crowd when it gets packed with people inside.
While there’s no more bowling, there is still the other feature that made The Highball stand out – the private karaoke rooms. This time, however, each room is individually decorated in different themes. With room names like Freaks (a circus freakshow theme), Truely Outrageous (a new-wave, “Jem and the Holograms”-style theme), Joysticks (video games, complete with a table top Pac-Man game in the center), The Black Lodge (“Twin Peaks”, apparently), Inferno (a heavy metal inspired theme that needs to be seen to be believed) and more, there’s something for everyone.
A word of advice: while the new multi-story garage does improve the parking situation, it’s not marked particularly clearly where you need to go once you’ve actually parked. It’s early yet and sure to be resolved in no time but, at the moment, it can be a little confusing.
Both the Drafthouse and The Highball officially open to the public on Saturday. Are you going?
Feature photo and photos in slideshow courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse