Everything You Need to Know About Drive-In Theaters

Make the most of your experience watching movies outside.


Drive-ins proved to be the movie industry’s savior when COVID-19 closed conventional cinemas, as well as a refuge for folks searching for an enjoyable and secure thing to do after work. Even while attendance has probably decreased after movie theaters reopened, it was at its peak during the worst of the pandemic, so you might still want to experience the novelty of viewing a movie in your automobile.


Here are some pointers to enhance the experience.


Look at What’s Airing


Drive-ins, in contrast to typical movie theaters, usually have one or two screens and a restricted movie schedule, meaning that family films and the newest blockbusters will probably take precedence over more artistic productions. A lot of them also attract large audiences by showcasing beloved films or cult masterpieces from decades or even longer ago. Make sure you go on a night when there is a nice show by checking the schedule.


You could even be lucky enough to see a double feature, a throwback to the Great Depression when movie theaters forced people with tight budgets to sit through two films for the price of one. Both now and before, the two movies have a general connection to one another; they can even belong to the same franchise or genre. For example, Grease might be shown before Dirty Dancing, while Jaws isn’t likely to be shown after Finding Nemo.


Get your tickets in advance.


It’s risky to attend any performance without a ticket. It’s a good idea to get your tickets in advance if your neighborhood drive-in accepts online payments (not all of them do). Prices range from $7 to $10 for adults and up to $4 for children, though exact amounts may differ. (Many locations offer free admission to young visitors.) To learn more about the drive-in’s policies, check out its FAQ page. Make sure to take note of whether it accepts cash or credit.


For the best spot, arrive early.


If you want to sit in the front row, choose the Miata over the Bronco since many cinemas will allocate you to a section or row based on the height of your car. Your car can be oriented so that the nose or the tail faces the screen. Both are good choices, but bear in mind that you might need to tie down the hatch to avoid obstructing other people’s views if you intend to sit in your SUV’s cargo hold with the liftgate open. If your car doesn’t have a button to adjust the opening height, you can manually reduce the rise by using some twine or clothesline.


You might want to bring some glass cleaner and a cloth if you intend to watch a movie through smudges on your windshield. It detracts from the enjoyment somewhat.


Additionally, your drive-in might provide a play area where youngsters and/or well-mannered canines can run about. It pays to arrive early, regardless of your preference for being near or far from this location.


Follow the Policy on Snacks


Even though it’s not difficult to smuggle a bag of popcorn or Hot-N-Ready past the front gate, keep in mind that many of these theaters rely heavily on concession sales. If you want yours to continue operating, become a customer and be willing to spend the small extra for a hot dog. If anything bothers you or if the snacks at the counter aren’t your thing, give the theater a call to check if you may bring in your own snacks for a small extra charge.


Get Ready for a Relaxed and Fun Evening


Drive-ins use a specific FM station to play the movie’s music. You can use the portable radio or the one in your car to listen in. The latter is what we advise as leaving your car in auxiliary mode for two hours will probably drain the battery. Many theaters have jumper cables or a jumper box available in case of emergencies. For a few dollars, you might also be able to rent a speaker from the theater.


If not, pack folding chairs, blankets, Frisbees, bug repellent, and whatever else you might need for a movie night spent outside in front of a screen. It would also be beneficial to have hand wipes and a waste bag.


Show Consideration


These are the standard moviegoing guidelines. During the movie, refrain from talking, smoking, and turning on lights. You most likely won’t be able to perch on your car’s roof like you could in the past. To start with, it obstructs the perspective of others. It’s an insurance liability for another. Although it might be permissible, we wouldn’t advise sitting on the hood because doing so will just result in dents and scrapes.


Most restaurants ask cars to slow down as soon as they enter the lot, for everyone’s safety. Respect the posted limit and bear in mind that little children can be playing in the space between the cars.

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