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Fun at the Drive-In Theater

Updated on February 8, 2015

The Classic Drive-In Movie Theater

Enjoy the nostalgia of a drive-in movie theater. Do you remember those days?

Maybe you have heard your parents or grandparents talking about how they would go to an outdoor theater. Here the latest featured movies would be on a giant outdoor screen that stood larger then life in front of many carloads of families. Double features were the norm. Although at times one could see a triple movie feature.

Back in time as late as the 1970's, it was common to see two and sometimes three movies in even the walk-in movie theaters.

Present time, there is one movie for the walk-in theaters for one large price, though up to a few dollars cheaper if you go to the matinee show. However, if you happen to live close enough to go to an outdoor drive-in theater (yes, they still exist), then you can see two movies for the price of one matinee ticket.

The American Drive-In Movie Theatre Book

The American Drive-In Movie Theatre
The American Drive-In Movie Theatre Review

Tracing the history, geography, and ideology of the American drive-in movie theater, authors Don and Susan Sanders present a densely illustrated look at American culture at its most shallow, sensual, and delightful. Noting the need of the newly created class of motorized, moneyed teenagers of the 1940s and '50s to find a dark and private place for their pubescent pastimes, the Sanders place the origin of this outdoor entertainment form in the birth of popular culture. The sections on the amusement park-style rides, refreshments, and attractions that were used to lure the bored and their cash to this form of voyeurism are especially delightful (the "Mono-Rocket" ride and the new high-speed food dispensers provide intriguing images of capitalist inventiveness). In spite of its Pollyanna-ish tone, The American Drive-In Movie Theater works as both a celebration and an insightful analysis of this passing phase of pre-couch potato folly. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Theatre or Theater

The first drive-in opened in New Jersey on June 6, 1933. The American name is theater. Though many drive-ins located in America have theatre within the name.

Drive-in Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933 [Paperback]
Drive-in Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933 [Paperback]

Drive-in Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933 [Paperback]

Learn the history

Drive-in Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933. Available in paperback, hardcover and Kindle Edition.

Look inside before you buy. Many books on Amazon have this option. It gives the customer the chance to see what is in store in a particular book before they decide to purchase it.

Along with history of the drive-in theater are historical photos that you will enjoy to look at as much as read the book!

Do you know the history of the drive-in theater?

This book will enlighten you with how Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. came up with the idea of an outdoor movie. How he started this with test in his home driveway with a 1928 Kodak projector.

This is not a picture book with light information. This is for the research enthusiasts. It goes deep into the history of the outdoor theater. The book takes you through the golden years and the decline to near extinction of this entertainment pastime of a great movie watching experience.

Drive-In Theater Poster - Our Hometown Theater History

Couples at Drive-in Movie Theater - Peel and Stick Wall Decal by Wallmonkeys
Couples at Drive-in Movie Theater - Peel and Stick Wall Decal by Wallmonkeys

Outdoor Drive-in Theater are Rare

In our hometown we had two outdoor movie theaters until the early 1980's. One being on the west side and the other one on the east side of town. But then the times had changed and the theaters closed down to make room for apartment buildings.

This is the common scenario across America. The outdoor drive-in theaters were disappearing. It looked as though this would soon be a thing of the past. This is something that you would tell your grand kids about, "When I was your age, we would load up the car with snacks and blankets. See not one, but two movies outdoors. It was a lot of fun." And if the grand kids are teenagers, you may not want to mention in detail all of the fun that you had at the drive-in.

There is a smaller percentage of drive-in theaters presently then back in the good o' days. Though many places are revitalizing this historical treasure and bringing back the outdoor theaters.

As for where I live, we have three outdoors, with the furthest being in Door County at 1 1/2 hours away. To the closest, at a little more then a half hour drive.

Two of the three allow you to bring in your own food and beverages. However they encourage you to order from their snack bar. We do bring our own snacks but we usually end up ordering nachos and sometimes a pizza.

Drive-in Movies in US Still Draw Crowds

See the Cult Classics - 12 movies for one low price

12 Drive-In Theatre Cult Classics
12 Drive-In Theatre Cult Classics

If you can't go to the drive-in, then enjoy the next best thing with these 12 Drive-In Theatre Cult Classics. These movies were made before most of us were born. Talk about nostalgia!

See if any of these classic movies scare you or will you find yourself laughing on the floor. Here are the names of these movies of 1959. Are you familiar with any of these?

The Wasp Woman

The Screaming Skull

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

The Killer Shrews

The Crawling Eye

Bride of the Monster

The Giant Gila Monster

Cat Women of the Moon

Frankenstein's Daughter

Devil Girl From Mars

Invaders From Mars

Invasion of the Animal People


Drive-In Movie Theater Wall Art Snack Metal Signs - Best part of the movie

Drive-In Movie Theater Wall Art Snack Metal Signs
Drive-In Movie Theater Wall Art Snack Metal Signs

Love These Old Time Snack Commercials

Often the best part of the movie is the old time commercials for the snack counter. It would be so disappointing if these weren't shown before the movie.

At the same time it is a bit eerie thinking that the food and beverages are alive with hands, feet and faces.

Buttery Fresh Popcorn Sign

Nothing Better Than the Popcorn

Need the Popcorn

Get the popcorn at the concession stand.

What I love about going to the drive-in is that all the family is included. Even our dog Buddy. For the price of an afternoon matinee, you can watch two movies at the outdoor. We find it fun sitting outdoors getting fresh air and wrapped up in blankets, while watching a great movie.

Note: Links are included to take you to the items you will need.

Things to Bring to the Drive-in Theater

Besides yourself and children


  • Bring the dog along. Be sure to bring the leash, water and a dog blanket.
  • If planning on laying on the ground. Be sure to have an outdoor blanket that is water resistant.
  • Sitting in your folding chair, you will want a nice warm fleece blanket to wrap up with. The temperatures do drop and the night can get cold.

Animal Planet Sherpa Pet Blanket


We love to sit outside our car with our folding chairs and snuggled up with nice warm blankets.

Cooler and Mosquito Repellent

  • Bring a cooler for those beverages and snacks that need to stay cold.
  • Make sure to have mosquito repellent. You may be there to enjoy the movies. But the mosquitoes are there to enjoy you.

Portable Raido

  • A rechargeable portable radio is good to have if there is no movie speakers. Some theaters have them and some do not. Plus if you plan on sitting outside, a portable radio is ideal to have.

Drive-In Retro Posters


Retro Movie Posters - Enjoy these on your wall

Design by: WesternArtist
Saturday Night at the Movies Poster

Route 66

Outdoor Movie System

Writer for Hire

I have been writing articles since 2008. If you enjoyed this article my services are available to write for you. Please contact me for more information.

© 2013 Sandy Mertens

Have you been to an outdoor theater?

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    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      2 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Rick Johnson, Great Drive-in memory.

    • profile image

      Rick Johnson 

      2 years ago

      In 1972 Through 1974, Us Teenagers Would Go To The Coon Rapids Drive Inn Theater In Coon Rapids, Minnesota, And Sometimes The Hi-65 (named after the Highway 65 that it was located on) Drive In Located In Blaine, Minnesota.

      If We Didn't Have The Money To Pay To Get In, We Would Sneak-In But Try Not To Get Caught.

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      3 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      colorfulone I have fond memories with the family and the drive-in.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      3 years ago from Minnesota

      Well this is a fun hub down memory lane of family outings to the drive-in theater. Popcorn, pop, and candy! It made me feel happier, Sandy, Thank you!

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      ardhendudey That is too bad that there isn't one there.

    • ardhendudey profile image

      Ardhendu Dey 

      4 years ago from Jamshedpur

      Wow, what a great article. But, unfortunately it is not available in our country. So I am missing it. :( :(

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Lady Guinevere I believe there are more than six left. There are four that I am aware of in the state of Wisconsin. But there is a lot less then there use to be. Some are also bringing them back.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      4 years ago from West By God

      There are about 6 drive in left in the USA. There is one down in Middletown, Virginia and we been there a few times. I loved going there and took the kids when they were little there too.

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      CherylsArt During the summer we would have our folding chairs and blankets. Plus the mosquito repellent. I am very popular with the mosquito crowd.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      The closest one, according to google, is approximately 45 minutes from us. It is closed for the season now. It's just open during the warmer months. I remember when we used to take blankets and not want to open the window for the speakers.

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      CherylsArt The closest drive-in here is about a 40 min. drive. Just check, it looks like it is still open for a short time yet.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      Nachos sound good. There are no drive ins around where we live. We do have two movie theaters.

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Cheryl, Intermission is good. When my daughter is with us, it is must to buy nachos at the snack bar.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      Sandy, we never bothered with bringing our own food. But we did look forward to intermission.

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      CherylsArt I like how you can also bring your own food in. Except for one drive-in in this state.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      I remember the drive ins. I especially liked how you could get more substantial snacks, like french fries.

    • SandyMertens profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandy Mertens 

      4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      bensen32 Drive-in movies are a lot of fun. You really need to go there.

    • bensen32 profile image

      Thomas Bensen 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin

      I have not been to the drive-in in a long long time, we have one about 25 miles from my house, maybe I need to make it out there next year if they are still open.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I grew up in the 1960s in a small town in Alabama, USA. The drive-in movie theater in my town growing up was called the Sel-Mont (just outside of Selma, on the way to Mongomery). The thing I remember most about it was high HUGE the screen was.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      It is kind of sad that the drive-in movies are all disappearing. I remember it as such a fun experience especially for families with young children. Parents would bring blankets and pillows and the kids in their PJs and would fall asleep in the back seat - of course those were the days before DVDs, Netflix and cable and satellite TV.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I remember my Dad taking me to the drive-in to see Nevada Smith when I was a little kid. I thought it was an amazing thing to be able to stay in your car & watch a movie on big screen like that.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I always enjoyed them. Too bad they aren't around now. I remember the little mosquito coils you burned to keep them out of the car.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This was a fun walk down memory lane! Too bad most of them are a thing of the past now. You found some great memorabelia.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      We are lucky enough to have a drive in still operating close to where we live. My daughter and her friends have enjoyed quite a few evenings there!

    • pumpum profile image


      6 years ago

      I always wanted to try this drive-in-theater, but unfortunately in my country isn't available at all :(

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 

      6 years ago from BC, Canada

      What a great lens and it brings back great memories! We had a drive-in theater in our community when I was growing up, and I spent many a weekend night hanging out there.


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