Chilling out on the cheap at the drive-in

By on April 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

It feels like a scene out of an old movie. Families perched on the hood of the car, the smell of popcorn in the air and a double-feature on the big screen just after sunset. It’s a page out of history, all right, but you can still experience it today.

A trip to the drive-in will often include two newly released movies for less than you’d pay for one at a modern movie theater. Even the popcorn and snacks are cheaper.

You’ll save money, get fresh air … and your feet won’t stick to the movie theater floor!

The rise and fall … and rise                   

The first drive-in theater appeared in 1933, in Pennsauken Township, N.J., and by the end of the decade, dozens more had opened. Almost 4,000 were operating in the 1950s. They were the perfect creation for a nation in love with both Detroit and Hollywood.

But during the 1970s and 1980s, rising real estate prices and the need for suburban land drove most of these theaters out of business, and the advent of cable TV and the VCR made it easy for families to watch movies at home. By the late 1990s, if you could find a drive-in theater at all, it was most likely a crumbling screen and an unused parking lot choked with weeds.

But drive-ins have made a comeback. A few of the original theaters still exist, and others have been re-opened as the popularity of drive-ins has grown again. And with the weather getting warmer, it’s the perfect time to rediscover this American pastime. You can find a nearby theater by searching and