One of my favorite family night or date night activities is going to the Drive-In movies. As of June 2014, there were only 338 Drive-Ins left in the United States, a far cry from the thousands of Drive-Ins that were so popular in the 1950’s and 60’s. Drive-Ins first came into existence in the 1930’s in New Jersey but it wasn’t until twenty years later that they really began to take off with the public. Through the years, their popularity has gone up and down but the last twenty years, the decline has been astounding.
With the all the new technologies of digital media, Drive-In owners are struggling to pay for the necessary upgrades to screens and sound systems to keep up with the pace of the more advanced productions. Costs of new screens cost upwards of $70,000. Since Drive-Ins are usually inexpensive compared to going to the theater, putting that amount into upgrades is problematic for many owners.
Years ago, you could pack people in the car, resembling the cars at circuses with all the clowns coming out of it once parked. Admission was per vehicle! Most places now charge per person but at $6-8 on average per person that is still cheaper than going to the movies! Couple that with that many people take their own snacks, you can’t beat the price!
Drive-Ins do offer concessions for those that want to still grab a burger or hot dog, candy, popcorn, drinks and more. We often arrive when the gates open at 6:30, eat dinner, then settle in to wait for the movie to start at dark. Most Drive-Ins offer a playground to keep the kids occupied.
You can also rent radios for a nominal charge if you don’t want to keep your car running or if you are worried about your car battery dying with just the radio on, which is how the sound from the movie is now transmitted to you. But no worries, they have jumper cables for you to borrow if your car battery dies, believe me, we know this first hand!
Preferably, I would love to see them take wi-fi OUT of the Drive-Ins instead of advertising they have it. When we would take our teenage son, it was a leave the phone at home kinda night. This is a great evening to step back in time, prior to cell phones and tablets interfering with fun, wholesome, family time or date nights, and enjoy time laughing, talking, then catching a current movie.
Thankfully, this dying trend of Drive-In movies might be on the upswing! Johnny Rocket has teamed up with Drive-Ins of America to open up 200 more Drive-Ins by 2018 and will offer Johnny Rockets food through the concession stands.
Do a search for the closest Drive-In or when on vacation to check to see if there is one in the area. It is a great evening to plan with your family or that special someone. Grab a blanket, snacks, and enjoy an evening together!