The Evolution of the Drive-in Movie Theatre - for me

Coming from an English background the only concept of the drive-in movie theatre was what I had seen in the movie Grease. You know the part – when Danny Zuko is sitting like a big sap on the swing with the movie screen in the background singing to Sandy, his lost love. I can hear it now… “Stranded at the drive-in…. branded a fool… what will they say…. Monday at school….”

The movie showed that the drive in was the all-American thing to do as a teenager, but it was something I had never experienced.

Then I moved to Canada (little America, as I called it at the time). This opened up my eyes to all that was North American. Fast food in excess, bright and garish signs, obesity and of course, the drive-in movie theatre.

Initially I only dipped my toe into the phenomena that was the drive-in. I recall my first ever visit when I borrowed a friends car that had a stereo that worked and was fascinated how the movie sound came through my very own radio just by hooking a wire over my antenna. The whole joyous experience was ruined by the fact that I got eaten alive by mosquitoes though. Note to self: ask God what he was thinking when he created mosquitoes.

Still, as a family, we persevered. Having two young sons, the drive-in non-attendance option was no longer an option for us. After all, all their friends would talk about how much fun it was. So instead of fighting it, we jumped in with both feet.

Being an organized family, we organized ourselves in this area too. The result is that a trip to the drive-in is something that is fine-tuned like a military maneuver.

First thing...

First thing is that we only go on cheap night. The drive-in near us has $5 Tuesdays when each person pays $5 regardless. For us that’s a $20 night out. Then the best of the best is carload Thursdays for $15. That works out at 2 (or sometimes 3) movies for 4 people for only $15. You can’t stay home for cheaper!

Next... the setup

Second is the vehicle setup. We drive an SUV, so our plan is always to get there early and find a central spot where we can back in to the screen. We lift the rear hatch up and my wife sets up the “nest” comprising of copious cushions, blankets, and sleeping bags. It’s kinda like watching a mother bird prepare the bedding for her newly hatched young. Once the nest is prepared the anointing begins. Each family member applies liberal amounts of mosquito repellant to another family member. Now, to the idle observer this could look similar to monkeys grooming each other in the zoo, but to us it enables relaxation whilst watching the movie as we laugh at others sitting around swatting at invisible tyrants in the air.

Don't forget your snacks!
Don't forget your snacks!

3rd thing...

Third thing is the snacks. Now, in this area we are somewhat rebellious. They have signs that say “No outside food or drink” at the entrance to the drive-in movies. Of course that is not followed by another sign that says, “Extortionately priced merchandise available here!” so we feel we have a get out of jail free card by their own false advertising. We always take a cooler of drinks, snacks, popcorn, chocolate and whatever is left over at home that will fit in the cooler. These items are then surreptitiously sneaked into the nest area of the vehicle.

Important thing next...

Fourth thing – we go pee before the movie starts. If you happen to forget this 4th thing then check out this idea here.

...and lastly

Last thing is that we lay back and enjoy the movie, chat when there are dull parts and make another family memory at the same time.

If you have never been to the drive-in, I highly recommend checking it out.

Feel free to sing when you go to the drive-in too!

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Comments 11 comments

pongogirl2 profile image

pongogirl2 4 years ago from California, USA

Wow! I thought Movie-drive ins didn't exist anymore:)! Awesome now I want to go to one.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Oh, they are alive and well in some areas. I have 2 options within 45 minutes of my home. Maybe I'm just lucky. Thanks for commenting and enjoy the movie!


shea duane profile image

shea duane 4 years ago from new jersey

Boy, do I miss those drive in theaters!


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

See what I mean shea duane... you have good memories from going in the past. Are they really that scarce now?


shea duane profile image

shea duane 4 years ago from new jersey

climbing in the car with PJs on and our pillows and blankets in hand!


denisemai profile image

denisemai 4 years ago from Idaho

Great article. I really like your light-hearted approach to writing. Do you still have a lot of drive-ins in Canada? Incidentally, I'm votin' you up!


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks. I don't like to take life (or myself) too seriously. Not sure about Canada in general but we have 2 drive-ins near home.


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

I've only been to the drive-in once and I suspect I had romanticized it to the point that it was bound to be a disappointment. Turns out, the place we went was so dangerous, one of my companions was packing. As in, a gun, because he was worried we might get mugged. A drive-in really isn't fun if you have to sit in your car and keep a lookout for criminals. I'd love to go to another one in a safe area though! Oh, and I love "Grease." The scene at the drive-in is spectacularly silly and cool all at the same time.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Wow Crystal, you must live in a tough area! Guess I must be truly fortunate to live where I do.

As for "Grease", well I thought Danny Zuko was the coolest character ever. Thanks for the read!


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Used to see some of those "organized" families marching up to the concession stand at the drive-ins Pete. The gentlemen i worked for owned several so consequently got to be around them alot. Enjoyed your story here and the better behaved ones were always admired more the uncouth lol. Oh, can remember when the ticket price was 2 bucks a carload on special nights!


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Alastar, that would have been a neat place to hang out, getting to see all the movies, albeit the same ones repeatedly maybe. $2 a carload! Wow, and I thought my $15 carload nights were cheap. Thanks for reading... glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

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