Conway Roller Rink

60
City/Town: Conway
Location Class: CommercialAmusement
Year Built: 1973
Year Abandoned: 05/10/2014
Status: Abandoned
Photographer: Michael SchwarzEddy Sisson
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In 1973, Conway Roller Rink was built as a part of an expansion in the city of Conway’s recreational areas. Built in tandem with the 12 lane expansion of the Conway Bowling Alley, the Roller Rink saw steady business all through lifespan. Though often competing for business with their next door neighbors, the Roller Rink became one of the best visited sites from locals in the Conway area. After a while, the Rink developed a reputation as a college hang out due to repeated parties aimed toward that demographic. One of the prime examples of this was the rink’s participation in the “End of the World” festivities, which attracted thousands of college students and forced several blocks to close down. Though business did dwindle slightly toward the end of 2012, this was, tragically, not the reason for the shut down of the business and the abandonment of the building.

Larry Billings, the owner of the establishment since 1981, was shot and killed in his home on October 29th, 2012; though the building and business went to his wife and son, they chose to close the Roller Rink indefinitely. Much speculation has been made over the future of the property including demolition, renovation, and a merger with the ajoining bowling alley. As of now, however, there are no official plans for the Roller Rink and time is beginning to wear down on the structure. With leftover soda machines and forgotten roller blades littering the alley, this centerpiece of recreation for Conway families is quickly becoming harder and more costly to save.

If you have any memories of the Conway Roller Rink or please leave a comment. We’d love to hear your stories and experiences!

Article written by Wells Thompson – AAR staff

CAUTION: Conway Roller Rink has been deemed “unsafe and hazardous.” Permission was granted in order to take photographs. Area is constantly patrolled by law enforcement.

Purchase Prints

60 Comments

  1. So many of us kids grew up in this place in the 80s and 90s. Looks really spooky in this run down condition. What the hell is wrong with the billings family?? If they did not want it sell it to someone else, no reason to let it get this bad. I bet Larry's ghost is haunting the place seeing it like this.

  2. started going here as an 8 yr old kid in 1986 and worked for Mr Billings for several years during college. I helped build the indoor jungle gym in the summer of 2001. I really miss this place and it is very depressing seeing it in ruins. really hope they find who killed Larry and put him to death

  3. Denise Griffin on

    I am very heart broken to se the shape she is in. Very sad, made me cry. I know Larry must be very hear broken in Heaven as well.. For this was his 2ed Love, His Kid's (all of us) was his 1st. I have Meany Memory's of long skate night's, with People I look up too,and will never for get.. Larry, J.J. and Jerry… And Meany More Long talk's with Larry.. time I hold dear,and word's I for ever hold in my heart..Larrry was and always will be a up standing Man, He gave a lot of him self,to Conway and to everone he meet..But most of all the kids he help and made a change in the life's that needed him..He became a Father to most..i will for ever remember his Bigger than life Smile that let you know he knew you (even year's gone by) and made you feel and see his love,,His big arm's of a hug that let you know you are Home.. Larry you gave so much,but with your self worth taught so much more to us all,,you will for ever be in my memory's and missed so dearly,,Love Little Denise..

  4. Comment posted.

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    Man this place. I remember having my birthday party every year. This is where my love of skaking. Where I ran into the wall and somehow bruised my back taking my breath away. Where I was mad and embarrassed because they made me so the chicken dance and it was my birthday and I just wanted to skate. Then I moved away and around 2013 I visited Conway and could not believe it was no longer in business. I remember sitting in the parking lot for half an hour sadden by the fact that it was no longer in business. I hope one day maybe someone will restore this. I just drove by as I do everytime I come through Conway . Every time I hope that someone restore it and kids are having fun making memories. In memory of the owner.

  5. Man this place. I remember having my birthday party every year. This is where my love of skaking. Where I ran into the wall and somehow bruised my back taking my breath away. Where I was mad and embarrassed because they made me so the chicken dance and it was my birthday and I just wanted to skate. Then I moved away and around 2006-2007 I visited Conway and could not believe it was no longer in business. I remember sitting in the parking lot for half an hour sadden by the fact that it was no longer in business. I hope one day maybe someone will restore this. I just drove by as I do everytime I come through Conway . Every time I hope that someone restore it and kids are having fun making memories.

  6. shannon adcox on

    Its a shame his wife and kid just trashed place after he was gone. I can see not wanting to mess with the rink so why not sell it? Why did they have to trash it? What were they looking for? I know he didnt leave it that way!

  7. Just found this site! I spent the 80s at this roller rink. Every Friday night my parents dropped me off here until closing. My friends and I LIVED for skating. I am sad to see it now.
    Thanks for posting.

  8. Arthur,If the future of the world was at stake, or you had a gun to your head, would you with all the effort and concentration a man can bring to bear possibly be able to write a blog entry that doesn’t have the word AMAZING in the opening paragraph?

  9. Fascinating idea, and much to be considered.Rape inherently involves loss of control over one’s body, unwarranted subordination to another, physical pain, mental duress – how can this not be viewed as a weapon of war? In order for the violent practice of rape to be addressed in any given society, the state must examine the framework of power inherent in their infrastructure: superiority vs. inferiority, dominance vs. marginalization, and social exclusion vs. social inclusion must be questioned. In the United States, women are just beginning to feel empowered enough to raise these issues and bring them to the forefront.

  10. I used to go there when i was a kid, and it is surprising to see how much it has gone downhill since then, and does anyone know if the removed the jungle jim from inside ?

  11. I remember skating to JJ Johnson when I was in third grade and having my first make out session in the corner in Jr High. I was frim Greenbrier but my life was spent at that rink on friday and saturday night. The Electric Cowboy opened. We could cut across and play Video Football or we would wait in the parking lot to be picked up and sneak a cruise by the old Wal Mart, around the Sonic and back down Oak St. If we were lucky, my step mom would do the cruise before taking us home. The newspapers said there was nothing to keep the youth of Faulkner County busy. We shure had fun for being bored.

  12. JaKobe Bryant on

    I'll never forget being in 4th grade (it was about 2011)I was about 10 years old and our school was going on a field trip for the end of the year to the roller rink. I had never been roller skating and my parents decided to take me here to practice skating (a totally new concept to me). I didn't do to bad as I kept practicing going around and around the rink. The DJ there told me that when I came back in a week for the trip he'd play "Baby" by Justin Bieber as a request from me. I liked his sense of humor. He didn't play the song but he definitely recognized me, my teachers complimented my skating and it was one of the best field trips id ever been on. I was saddened to hear it was closed down and now it's to "unsafe" I was very sad. I realize this is very long but I want to thank everyone who worked at this rink for the small amount of time I was able to spend in this great place, and for giving me many memories after that field trip. Thank you for letting me share.

  13. I really miss this place. This really makes me sick and I just want to cry for what they have let happen to the skating rink. I can still hear Larry hollering HEEEEY BABY WHAT YOU BEEN UP TO!!! As I walk through the door and walk up to him and give him a hug. I met my first BF at the Skating Rink and my daughters dad. I met a lot of people there and had a lot of fun and even got in trouble a few times, lol. Larry idk why anybody would have ever wanted to do this to you, you have always been a great guy and role model, I hope one day soon they will find out who did it and why. Don't think anyone will be at peace until they do, this was a huge tragedy to a lot and I mean a lot of people. You are missed and thought about daily, we all love you, until we meet again, you will be kept in all our hearts.

  14. Oh my, I moved to FL a while back and didn't even realize it was closed. 🙁 Or that the owner was shot. I went skating here as a kid and had the chance to take my kids there when they were little. How sad.

  15. i spent 9 years of my 15 years of life here! mr. Larry was like my 2nd dad! I went every time it was ever open! I love this place. More than anyone could ever know.

  16. People who have memories there and all the kids who believe the skating rink should be open should help and pitch in to fix it we got these kids at school who work with metal and do carpentry it can be a big huge project for them and it could help promote the school seeing how the kids helped recreate something long lost we can get people to manage the cost and manage the project if people pitched in it wouldn't be so costly my hand print is on the window for the memorial of Larry and if Larry was with us today he would be disappointed if how the skating rink is today and how people have let it get where it is today we shouldn't let the memories fade along with this place we should let it keep going especially for sake of the kids

  17. O I have a lot of memories of this place and of Larry and JJ before that. I watched Alicia and her siblings grow up that place. It was an every wknd event from 85-88 for me and several others. I would love to see this back open so the kids today can have the memories we all have.

  18. This is so tragic to see and to even know. Me and my brother would go there every saturday open to close. When Larry owned it, it was a family place not the whore and drug hangout spot the last guy tried to make it out to be. I really miss Larry and i feel as if he was alive to day and running it so would the skating rink. It may have not been the finnest place to go in Conway but as a kid thats where we would go to get away from all our problems. R.I.P Larry Billings love you and your still our favorite "skating rink" uncle .Gone but I promise you will not be forgotten….Kayla and Charles sims

  19. I used to go every single weekend. I really hope someone takes on this project and saves the skating rink! It made my childhood what it was!

  20. I wish this place could be fixed and that the community can work on it as a project to fix it up so many memories were held there just let go that skating rink was a home to some kids we can't just let it go

  21. My little brother and I grew up there. We were there every weekend and sometimes during the week. It was my first job and where I met so many good friends. My son even went every weekend for years.
    I loved this place ans all the memories. Even though it will never truely be the same to me without Larry making fun of me when I came to get my son and call me by my childhood nickname he gave me, I wish it was still open for my daughter to experience ce the fun I had as a young girl up there.

  22. I wish there was a way to preserve it! I can remember having birthdays at the rink, the speed skating, limbo, the slow skate, running into the walls to stop myself because I couldn't stop. I learned to backwards skate there. No telling how many bruises I got from crashing, it's a winner I didn't break anything or my tail bone. Sad to see it not in business anymore.

  23. I lived in Conway from June 2004 til Nov 2012 and my best friend and I went there often as well as our church taking the children and youth. I have a lot of good memories, so sad its gone.

  24. I started going there at a young age & continued going well into my teen years on Friday nights. Fell in love & had heart break. Many memories from there. Wish I had the money to renovate it.

  25. Stephen waddle on

    One of my childhood safe havens,plezzz people don't let this tern into the water slide,or frank branins!
    I went home for a visit not to long ago an didn't even recognize the place it has grown so Mitch"y'all should be proud "but I knew I was home whin I saw the rink and Allie.ill pray the lord will shine a way,God bless.

  26. Anthony Bennett on

    This was my favorite place to hang out with friends on the weekends and Larry even let me work there for a while and help out with after-set parties. Lots of fun times and great memories there…all night skate parties were the best! I do agree that we as a community need to find a way to save this landmark in our community. I'm all in!

  27. It seems to me the city or individual that bought that horrendous Christmas tree could've taken the money and spent it on renovating this skating rink.

  28. Misty Dewitt Collins on

    This is a very heart breaking thing for a lot of us. I grew up in that place, it was my home away from home. Larry was like a second dad to a lot of us. I also worked there when I was 15. Larry loved that skating rink and all the kids to. Its a shame that what he created and loved and A place where so many memories have been made and tons of goods were had is being let go to ruins. Honestly Larry would be disappointed I believe. Larry was a great guy and I k he taught me how to speed skate and was once a few of ours speed skating couch. He was very loved and he is very missed every day. It needs to be reopened that's what he would want and so his creation we all loved can carry on.

  29. I remember as a kid I use to go all the time Larry was a good man I look at the pictures how it looks nw in I have to say it's sad how It looks I wish it was a way that some of us can get together in clean it up because it shouldn't look like that at all so many memories run through my head when I think about the skating rink Rip Larry

  30. I have spent as many hours in this rink as anyone .
    From me as a kid to my kids and my grandkids also
    When I was 12 I would ride my bicycle from Otto to the rink and then skate and then ride it back home and I lived on the east end of Otto Rd
    I have a million memories of this place and the people that I have met there . They all started about 1975
    RIP Larry Billings

  31. I grew up in this skating rink. Larry was my dad away from home. That man was an amazing man! He ran that skating rink with pride and an abundance of love for every kid that walked thru the door! I would not be the woman I am today without the guidance from that place! I am so sad to see it in this shape.

  32. It was a very big part of my adolescent years. Tons of memories. Good memories. I hate to think that the youth of this day and age will not be able to enjoy that. Make memories like we did there. The world was robbed of a wonderful man when we lost Larry but the angels got a good one to stand by their sides. RIP Larry.

  33. I spent a ton of time there, playing hockey with larry, he helped me and several others with our training in off season. I wish that I could take the place over and bring life back into it. I remember how happy he was when there and how playing hockey with his two sons and the rest of us just made him happy. It's a sad thing to see it like it is, wish that the folks of conway could get together and clean it up, revive it. For larry, for conway….

  34. I really hate that our skating rink has become of this. So many fond memories of field trips to the rink when I was a kid. Hopefully, it can be saved.

  35. Rickey Gulley on

    The rink was a part of my childhood as well as my young adulthood. I was completely horrified to see that shape that this building is in now. I was one of the people that painted their hands and posted them on the outside of the building. We did that as a memorial to Larry Billings. I really wish that there was some way that we could save this structure.

  36. I spent my teen years there with my sisters and friends.We probably went about 4 times a week. I have so many great memeories of Larry, Alishia, Micheal, and the whole family actually ,and everyone loved being there, we all were part of a huge family in our minds. My children learned to skate there. We all miss it and wish it was still open. They later years it seemed it got more expensive though and not as much room to skate. I miss those early years of good times, laughter, our 2nd home and Larry.

  37. Some of my favorite childhood memories were held here. We need to save this place for our children. They need fun places like this that don't charge an arm and leg to enjoy!! We as a community need to fix this up!!

  38. This is sad that a part of our history will be lost. Not only did I spend many weekends here, but my children also got to attend several birthday parties here. They learned to skate here!! I am afraid that skating will become a lost art like many other of our favorite pasttimes!! So sad to see it go & R.I.P. Larry & thank you for all u did for us lil heethans!! :))

  39. Well it was not built in 1976. My dad. Jr. Keele, was the Manager of the Bowling Alley and Skating Rink from 1973 – 1980, when he passed away. He actually hired JJ, Joe Johnson in 1973. I have wonderful memories. It was awesome being a kid and being able to skate or bowl any time I wanted to (and yes, of course it was free to me. I was there usually 7 days a week. I met some wonderful people there. There were many times, the rink would be closed and I would go in and turn on just a few of the lights and me my friends would skate. I will never forget all the good memories. I have so many it would take me days to write about them.

  40. I think we need to save this for are kids clean it up as a comuity for us we group up every weekend we where here we need something for ur kids to do besides being in the street what do yall think?

    • Yes I think your right.Des Arc where I grew up had a movie theater and a skating rink and now there is nothing for the kids and it is heart breaking.I do not live there any more but it is so so sad.I have family and friends in Des Arc.Kids should have a place where they can be just kids and have fun.As a kid I loved to skate and go to the movies.I pray they save this skating rink.

  41. My husband & I met at the skating rink when we were 13 years old, the summer after 7th grade. A lot of us hung out here every Friday and Saturday night. It was a time of the couples skate, we were young, and I had many fond memories here.

  42. I grew up here. Always asking our parents "can we go skating" or "mom it's the all night skate" Larry had the upmost positive personality. Someone would have to do very wrong for him to get mad. I had the privilege to take my oldest son to a birthday party once before the shut down. With him now at the age of wanting to go and do something, here would be perfect. Larry is missed dearly. The days and memories of the skating rink Era in my life will never be forgotten

  43. many many memories – it would have been nice to save the place but by the looks of things it would be too costly – i was skating there by the time i was 6/7 years old and throughout my teen years – i remember sooooo well jj and the body rockers – if you remember what im talking about your a true skater of the old place – then years later larry – it did have its moments of roughness – but it was seen through –

  44. Nicole Bailey on

    It upsets me that the rink has been worn down and destroyed since Larry passed. He was a father figure to me. The rink holds so many of my childhood and adolescent memories. I'm so sad that I won't be able to share the rink with my daughter.

  45. So sad, I met my husband here in 1980 when I was 12 and he was 15. We went here every Friday nite . We married in 1985, and when our Children were born we took them on the weekends, Larry watched our 3 children grow up, this was a good place and Larry was a wonderful man, wish he could have meet the Grandkids. R.I.P Larry

  46. All of the handprints are for larry. Everyone that went to the rink when he passed came and put there handprints there for him. Please someone come renovate it make it a dedication to him. That rink was his passion and he loved it. Now look at it he would be very displeased if he were to see it in this kind of shape.

  47. The hand prints were done for a memorial for Larry. Most of us grew up in the skating rink . my hand print is on the window

  48. Rebecca Baker Prince on

    This just breaks my heart. My sister and I spent our childhoods in this place and my own kids learned to skate there, too. Mr. Larry was a good man, always kind to us. Prayers continue for his family. The place looks like it has been vandalized. I would love to see someone renovate the rink to give the kiddos a safe place to play and hang out again.

  49. Wayne Dickerson on

    I know all about this place. I started going here around 1995. Larry billings saved my life with his rink. With out them I have no idea where I would be. I know every inch of this building. As for the hand prints on the window your asking about well mine are on there along with 2 of my kids. R.I.P Larry love you and miss you

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