Sixty years ago, families packed into their cars and drove to the local drive in movie theater as an affordable source of entertainment. High school sweethearts flocked to the movie screens under the stars seeking privacy the indoor theaters couldn’t offer. Drive in movie theaters were a huge staple of entertainment in the 1950s through the 1970s, but as soon as these theaters appeared they began to vanish. In 1980 there were still 2,400 drive in theaters, but according to United Drive-in Theatre Owners Association that number has plummeted to only 348 theaters in 2014.
For a time, the future of drive in theaters was looking pretty dim, as if the public had lost its interest in the outdoor theater experience. However, in recent years a resurgence of interest in drive in movie theaters seems to be on the rise. Teens and young adults in search of unique date ideas are turning to drive ins like the teens of many decades before.
The drive in theater is also a nostalgic place, since many of these remaining theaters stand from the 1950s or 60s. Though there have been a few modernizations such as broadcasting audio over car radios instead of the old speakers on poles, they have only enhanced the experience. Drive in theaters offer multiple movies for the ticket price of one. Many of the drive ins show new releases, but some hold special events where they screen classic films that would have appeared on the screens back in their heyday, horror movie nights, and even holiday themed events.
Families can come and bring lawn chairs, sit in the back of their trucks or vans, and can also bring their own snacks and food. Of course concessions are still provided with typical movie theater favorites, but it’s nice to know you won’t be questioned for smuggling in your own popcorn and sodas.
Many areas are seeing drive in theaters becoming more popular, and some out-of-business locations are opening back up. It’s wonderful to see that there is still hope for the magical experience of the drive in movie. People go to movie theaters to enjoy movies, but people go to drive in theaters to make memories.