We love the drive-in

That’s from a Beach Boys song. There’s no actual “we” here that loves the drive-in, though I do really like it a lot.

We have a local drive-in that’s been around for a really long time, at least since I was a little kid, and that’s quite awhile. Growing up our family used to go to the drive-in pretty often in the summer, and then later I used to go there on dates. I moved away 14 years ago, moved back 10 years later, and had only been back to the local place once since then.

I love movies. I have a somewhat large DVD collection (yes, I’m sure there are several people who have a much bigger inventory than I do) and have all the premium channels that my cable company provides (which is less than any other cable company I’ve had provides). But our nearest regular movie theatre is about 40 miles away. They show 1 movie, 6 nights a week, with no matinees. The nearest multiplex is about 1-1/2 hours away which means going to see 1 movie can kill a whole day, and I don’t have that kind of time.

Have I mentioned I love movies? Before moving back to Tiny Town I lived less than a mile from the above-mentioned multiplex and usually saw a movie 2 or 3 times a week. Before that I lived about 5 miles from a multiplex and saw about 2-3 movies a week on the big screen. Before that I lived within walking distance of 3 theatres and saw an average of 4-5 movies a week (not counting the times when I sometimes watched the same movie twice). It’s very hard to go cold turkey from that much entertainment. And that much popcorn.

OK, I didn’t go cold turkey on popcorn but Orville Redenbacher’s finest isn’t as good as movie theatre popcorn. With extra butter-flavored topping.

Since I am always working, and since it is so damn inconvenient to go to the movies when you live in Tiny Town, I rarely have time to go to the theatre. I try to make it to about 2-3 movies a year, including taking the nephews to the latest Harry Potter movie (which aren’t yearly). When I didn’t think I would be able to see the X-Files anytime soon (I did see it at the multiplex on opening day, more about that later), I looked up the local drive-in’s website to see what was coming up, and it was The Dark Knight and Get Smart this weekend, with The X-Files and The Happening next weekend. I’m so there! Or I was this past Friday night at least.

I’m not going to give a review of the movies but I will say that yes, I did think TDK was awesome (even though I still don’t like Christian Bale, I do think he does this version of Batman well) and Get Smart was funnier than I expected – I actually thought this was a good role for Steve Carell (he’s not my favorite), and I like Anne Hathaway in everything I’ve seen her in.

Instead of a movie review, because who cares what I think?, I wanted to bring a drive-in review. Though not so much of a review, as an overview and a kind of comparison of drive-ins v. regular theatres. I’m sure there are a lot of people that have never been to a drive-in, or have never thought about going to one, or who have never cared if they ever went to one. Just like regular theatres have differences between them, I’m sure drive-ins are different from each other as well, but I think there are a lot of similarities. Of course I’ve only been to 3 different drive-ins.

To hopefully make this shorter, and probably more coherent, I’m doing this in bullet form. These may not be true of all drive-ins, but it probably is in general.


The good of the drive-in experience:

  • Double feature for the price of one (some may have 1 or 3 movies though)
  • Cheaper for adults (ours is $6.00 – yes, 6 bucks for 2 movies – that’s cheaper than a matinee)
  • Cheaper for kids (sometimes kids get in free, here 10 and under is free with paying adult)
  • Closer (for me anyway, it’s only 8 miles away v. 40 miles or more)
  • Comfortable seating, with leg room, and no one stepping on you because they sat in the middle of the row and feel the need to leave the theatre 4 times during the movie. If your car’s seats aren’t comfortable you can bring a lawn chair, or a blanket, or even an air mattress if that’s what you feel you need, or you can get all white trash and put a La-Z-Boy in the bed of your pickup (yes, I’ve seen that done many times).
  • Volume and temperature is controlled by you – no more worries about being too cold or not being able to hear the dialogue. Some drive-ins still have the speakers available that you put in your window, but most use a radio frequency now.
  • No annoying teenagers talking too loud or throwing food and drinks
  • No annoying cell phones ringing (at least here because there is no cell signal, although I was parked by the projection booth and a group of teenage boys, for some unknown reason, thought they could get a signal by standing next to the booth)
  • The Concession Stand – Ours has a wide selection on their fast food-type menu like burgers, hot dogs, french fries, onion rings, pizza, breaded chicken or fish, ice cream, shakes, and on and on, in addition to the usual popcorn-candy-nachos (which is cheaper than a regular theatre). They discourage it, but you could also bring your own food and drinks (like the half bottle of Mountain Dew I had in addition to 1 of their large fountain Dews. Oh and I also had a tub of popcorn with extra butter [flavor] and a peanut butter sundae. Hey, 6 hours is a long time).
  • Kid’s play area – Ours has a small play area with swings and 2 other things (I didn’t pay that much attention). It was better, and in better shape, when I was a kid, but I was more interested in the movie than playing then anyway.
  • Large screen + no worries about not being able to see over the person in front of you. I had an SUV parked in front of me and had no problems seeing the screen.
  • Intermission – You usually get a break between movies to get something (more) to eat, go the bathroom, or just stretch your legs. Or whatever.
  • Smoking? Here you can. Might come in handy (see below). Same for drinking, just make sure you have a designated driver. Some places probably prohibit alcohol.
  • Like sex in (semi) public? Sure, if that’s what you’re into. Or if you just can’t help yourself. Not that I would know anything about that. Just park in the back. Or in a dark corner. Not into voyeurism? Don’t park in the back. Or in a dark corner.


The bad:

  • There’s no exact start time – Usually around the time it gets dark, but that can be a broad period of time. I got there about 8 and it didn’t start until 9, but I read a book and talked to a friend and her family.
  • Double feature – you can see both movies or one (same price either way) but there’s no exact start time if you only want to see the 2nd movie.
  • Rain – We had thunder and lightning all night but thankfully only about 10 or 15 minutes of rain. You can roll your car windows up but if it gets too bad they’ll probably shut down and then that just sucks.
  • Seasonal – In warmer climates they may stay open most of the year but since we have 4 seasons ours is only open from about June to mid or early September.
  • Limited showings – Most are only open on the weekends, which is when they get most of their business, so if weekends aren’t an option for you then you’re out of luck.
  • It’ll be a late night – It was 2 a.m. when the movies were over. That’s not late for me, but for some people it is.
  • External noise – Like the assholes who decide to make their vehicles as noisy as possible when driving on the highway past the drive-in. And people who think that car horns are way fun! They are usually quick to be shut up or beaten to near death here though.

Next week I’ll try to take pictures. If I don’t forget my camera again.


2 Responses to We love the drive-in

  1. Tuli says:

    I SO want to go to a drive-in! I’ve not been since I was but a wee lass. My boyfriend has a 1961 Impala that, if our plans work out, we’ll be taking to a drive-in that is about an hour west of us.

  2. missnightowl says:

    You should totally go! I’m going again this weekend, hoping that it doesn’t rain again. And hoping that if it does rain that it won’t be enough for them to shut it down. I’m perfectly content to sit in the car in the rain watching a movie.

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