Going to the Drive-In Theatre used to be a big event in my family growing up. It was an affordable way to have a night out for my parents.
They used to bundle us kids (4 of us!) into the back seat of that huge old Chevrolet Bel-Air, get a picnic basket of goodies and drinks together and take our pajamas and blankets. It would take all afternoon to get ready but it was worth it!
Every city used to have a drive-in theatre usually on the outskirts of town away from the city lights. It would be open in early spring all the way to Thanksgiving. We knew the seasons were changing when the theatre shut, which was depressing as kids!
We would get so excited with the planning and then finally we would all pile in the car with our picnic, pajamas, toys and whatever else my mom thought would keep the younger ones busy if they got bored.
We would get to the drive-in and usually paid by the car, so this was a cheap night out for my mom and dad.
We would then all argue over the best spot to park our car, and there were usually other cars roaming the aisles just like us. My Dad always wanted us to get there early so we could secure the perfect spot and then we kids could play on the swings and slides that they usually had setup at the front of the theatre, actually right under the big screen! Many people would get there early and bring picnic dinners!
We would set our scratchy speaker up in the window and my dad would get his poor ear drum blown out by the scratchy noise that came out of those speakers, but we loved it all the same. Usually the first movie was kid/family friendly. It didn’t start until dusk so in the summer that could be almost 9pm or later, so by the time our movie was over we were usually passed out from the excitement, snacks and the movie all under our big blanket, and now the next movie would be for my parents.
The things they would do to get a night at the movies!
The Drive-In has a history dating back to 1933, and was the most popular during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
As more and more people got cable TV and the malls added indoor movie theatres in larger numbers and then people got big screen TVs and DVD players, the poor old drive-in started to fade out.
They would get sold off to developers as they were usually sitting on a large piece of valuable land, or they simply faded away.
Check Online Many Cities Still Have a Drive-In Theatre
But there are still many cities that have kept there drive-in theatres going strong. There is one near where I live now, and my husband and I will make a point of going to it all during the season to help keep it open. It still gets very busy.
Some things have changed for the better, like the scratchy speakers have been replaced with your car radio, you simply tune it to the station they tell you, but many things have stayed the same, like some of the vintage ads at the beginning of the movies and the hot butter popcorn.
You still have to try and remember where your car is when you go to use the restrooms or get yourself some popcorn, but other than that, these are still a fun place to go.
Cheaper – Check online (most have listings online now) and see which nights they are offering a “one carload” price. In our area it is Tuesday’s and Thursday’s where you pay one price for the car no matter how many (no stuffing in the trunk though!).
You can enjoy 2 movies for the price of one and enjoy the big screen. (there are always 2 movies!)
No Babysitter – I see many family cars at the Drive-In with small children or even newborn babies in their cars. The parents can have a night out without having to get a babysitter and be in the comfort of their own car.
No Worries About Seating – You can do what you want in your own car, and don’t have to be sat behind someone with a large head! The way the theatre has the hump in the ground all cars are slightly upward and everyone can see. There is a spot in the back for trucks, SUVs and vans so that you can always see. Just make sure your windshield is clean!
No Shushing People – Since you will now hear the movie through your car stereo, you can choose to have the windows shut or slightly open and unless you are singing at the top of your lungs you are not going to disturb anyone or have to shush anyone behind or in front of you.
Privacy – One of the main reasons most teens used to like the drive-in is for privacy! I also remember seeing my parents cuddled up watching their movie while we kids were sleeping in the back; this was there one night where they could date again! My first date with my hubby was at the drive-in.
There are lots of good reasons to check out your local drive-in again. You can bring your own snacks like my family did, and this is great if you are bringing your own kids. When my kids were small my hubby and I did the exact same thing. We brought their snacks but then we would get a hot buttered popcorn treat. We would even bring a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee.
It is hard for a drive-in to remain profitable in areas like where I live due to the long Ontario winters, but once they open in the early spring many cars flock to them.
I hope ours remains open for a lot more seasons to come. If it has been a long time since you headed to the drive-in, then take a break from the malls and your big screen at home and go back in time and check it out.
The Drive-in concept may be old and from another era but with some modernization such as good sound quality, and good quality movies you will be a kid again!