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Stranded at the Drive-in
Going to the Drive-in movie theater is a great experience for the entire family. Unfortunately, it seems that it is a dying trend, as most Drive-in Theaters have closed their lots for the more traditional excursion.
In the height of popularity, there were between 4,000 to 5,000 Drive-in Theaters throughout the U.S. In 1997, it had dropped severely with only 815 screens remaining. Today, it has continued to drop with only 478 open world-wide, 370 which are in the United States and 66 in Canada.
Luckily for my family and I, there is a Drive-in theater close to were we live. The Van Buren Drive-in is located in Riverside, Ca. With 3 screens, there is plenty of options for you to choose from. The best part is, the Drive-in theater is not only family friendly, but it is budget friendly as well. The Van Buren Drive-in charges only $7 per adult and $1 for children between the ages of 5-9. Those under 4 are free.
If you would like to find a Drive-in Theater near you, check out this site to see if there is one close to you.
Got Kids? Drive-in theater is perfect for the family!
The Perks of a Drive-in
1. It is family friendly - There is nothing worse than going to a Movie Theater to enjoy a movie and then suddenly at the climatic part a baby starts wailing. Ok, so it has occasionally been my baby. What can I say? No babysitter and we really wanted to go to the movies. My husband is addicted to the movie theater and I go along for the ride. My kids are following in our footsteps and like to go as well.
In the movie theater, bringing your baby or young child can be stressful for not only the parent, but those around you as well. (Yes, it can be construed as rude - especially by those who don’t have children or those out for a romantic date. And yes, I have been rude and I really don’t care. It is my option to go to these places as well. And if you can’t stand the kids, get out of the Disney movie!)
Yet, going to a drive-in movie theater is something positive for parents. You no longer have to worry about other people giving you dirty looks because your kid decided to talk or maybe went through a crying tantrum. You are the only one that has to deal with them because you are sitting in your car. I know for me, it takes the stress off because I know I am not ruining anybody else’s experience.
No longer does movies have to cost you an arm and leg!
2. It is budget friendly - With movies today reaching over $10 a person, depending on theater, depending on time, and depending on any other special deals…. Going to the movies is no longer an affordable family adventure. Add the 3D experience and it will cost you even more. Now the price may vary a little bit depending on your area and whether there is special promotions going on. I know for my whole family to go to a movie we will spend around $50 a visit, and that is trying to keep the price down. At the drive-in theater, we spend only $16! To top it off, we get to watch two movies with that price!
3. It is movie friendly - Not all Drive-ins will be the same, I know the Van Buren Drive-in offers movies are up to date. So this isn’t your typical budget theater. You are guaranteed to see a new release shortly after it comes out… depending on the drive-in Selection. Currently, the Van Buren Drive-in is playing Transformers, which hasn’t been in theaters for long! Now it may not play all movies, it will obviously depend on the movie’s popularity. Keep your eyes open, because if there is a movie you would like to see, save your money and check out your local Drive-in.
What to remember about the Drive-in
1. It’s not your typical movie theater - Going to the Drive-in is an experience. Therefore, treat it like an experience. The movies will start when the sun goes down. (They will give you a start time, so don’t worry about trying to figure out when the sun will set!) But, even though it will start later on, get there in plenty of time. The best parking spots are going to be upfront, and if you are the last car to get there, finding a parking spot may be difficult, especially depending on your vehicle. A little car will not fair well behind a big SUV with the back door open wide. So, even though the screen is huge, for the best experience you want to get a spot where everybody can see well!
2. Pack supplies - In an ordinary theater you will not go there to be comfortable. At the Drive-in, feel free to bring a few blankets and pillows or even your favorite stuffed animal. And if you really want, go to the theater in your pajamas! You can also bring your lawn chairs. No one ever said you have to stay in the car. So feel free to set up camp outside your car, take a seat, cover up and enjoy the movie.
Note: You may also want to pack a cooler with snacks and drinks. However, some Drive-ins may not allow these in the lot because they want you to purchase from the concession stand. Check before you go. If there is no limitations, feel free to pick your snack.
3. Bring Jumper Cables - I can not stress this enough. When going to the Drive-in theater, you will be using your radio to listen to the movie. This is great technology allowing the movie to be broadcast through an empty radio frequency assigned for the night. It will sound like surround sound inside your car and you will get a much clearer sound then what you may remember from the old school drive-ins.
Be warned, while this is great technology, running your radio while not actually running your car can cause the battery to die. On our last visit, this is what happened to us. We killed the battery and we had no jumper cables! After searching and asking several other people (cause apparently we aren’t the only one to not have jumper cables!) we finally got our car started. We weren’t alone that night. There were several cars needing a jump by the time the movies had finished!
Lesson learned! Make sure you have your own jumper cables! If not… make sure you occasionally run your car to keep your battery well charged!