July 13, 2014

Your Ultimate Guide To Drive-In Movie Fun

Ultimate Guide To Drive-In Movie Fun - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Tires crunch against the gravel as you pull away from the old ticket kiosk. You drive around the barricade and it's a little like slipping through a time warp and you feel like Olivia Newton John when she was Sandy Olsson and the only thing more perfect would be if a group of greasers stood on their hoods and sang 'Grease Lightning'. The air hangs with exhaust as people vie for the perfect central space and children bounce in the backseat, already unbuckled, waiting for the moment the engine stops and they can rush from their automobile confines...

I never went to the drive-in as a child.  Mom and dad thought they were for necking, not for families. I was sixteen before I ever experienced that dusty air.  We pulled in, us a pile of too many kids in the back of Dan Jolly's pickup truck and {Mother, I promise} not one neck got nibbled! It was magic and immediately became a summertime staple in my activity arsenal.

pros for a drive in movie

  • It's cheaper! A double-feature costs less than one film at a regular theater and children are generally a reduced rate ($2 at our local drive-in) or free.
  • It's social! Unlike a theater, a drive-in makes it easy to carry on conversations and share your plot theories without bothering the people around you.
  • You can bring whatever snack strikes your fancy and save on the overpriced concession treats.
  • Children don't have to sit still and be quiet - they have room to move around, play and talk.
  • It's comfortable. Compare a theater seat {in which an usher will snap his fingers to get you to take your feet down off the seat in front} to a hatchback stuffed with pillows and blankets {on which you and your heart-partner can snuggle}.
  • You are the master of your own volume.  Is it too loud? Turn it down. Is it too quiet? Well then, turn it up!
  • Pajamas are a socially acceptable public clothing choice.  

cons for a drive in movie


Drive-In Movie Essentials - 10 things you don't want to leave at home - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

You can show up at the drive-in, just you and your car BUT there are things that can make your experience so much better...

1. Comfy clothes. Whether it's pajamas or yoga pants, you're going to want to be comfortable. Jeans are not conducive to a cozy drive-in experience.  

2. A warm sweater.  Even though it's summer, nights can still be damp and cold. Come prepared with a sweater for everyone.

3. Blankets & pillows.  Cozy is your goal! Quilts are great to wrap yourself up in and pillows will be helpful when the kids get tired and want to snuggle up in the back seat.  

4. Camp chairs. If it's more than two of you going, bring along some chairs so you can sit outside your car.  {Many bodies will fog up your car windows and no one will be able to see anything.}  With your windows down and the volume turned up you'll have no trouble hearing the movie and the kids will be happy to not be confined in a vehicle for hours.

5. Activities. To guarantee yourself a good parking spot you may want to show up as much as an hour early.  Bring along your ball gloves to play catch, a frisbee, a soccer ball or anything else that might fill the time and occupy the kids.  There's always room in front of the screen to toss a ball or play tag.

6. Bug spray.  There have been times that the mosquitos and blackflies are horrendous - especially if you're planning to sit outside - bring along some bug spray to keep those annoying critters at bay.

7. Window cleaner.  We generally spend the first movie outside on our chairs and then get in the car for the second {in hopes that the kids will fall asleep}. There is nothing more annoying that a giant bug-splat right at your eye level. Bring along some window wipes or glass cleaner and a rag to give the windshield a quick cleaning.

8. Snacks! No movie is complete without snacks! And the sky is the limit.  It can be as simple as a bag of candy or as awesome as a crockpot full of pulled pork.  Just remember to bring whatever necessary dinnerware you need.

9. Drinks! I always bring myself a coffee and for the kids either drinking boxes or a thermos of juice.

10. A sense of wonder.  Every experience is only as good as you make it.  The drive-in is the perfect place to approach with the eyes of a child.  Oooo and aaaahhhh through the movie.  Laugh out loud.  Search for new constellations.  Peak through the control room window and watch the reel spin.  Make shadow puppets on the screen during intermission.  Watch for shooting stars.  Cuddle.

And finally...

  • One car per spot.  Don't be a spot-hog and don't sprawl.
  • Know where your children are and don't let them run around unsupervised! Once the sun is down they should be at your vehicle with you.
  • Don't compete with the music. If you arrive early, be content with the drive-in station - don't try to drown it out with your own mix, that's just annoying to everyone around you.
  • Don't honk your horn - it's obnoxious.
  • Turn your headlights off and keep them off!
  • If you've backed in and plan to sit in the back of your minivan, be sure the rear lift-gate is not raised so high as to obstruct the view of the vehicle behind. 
  • While the drive-in is a social place and conversation is okay, please don't be too loud and please don't use profanity - there may be children all around you.
  • Don't peak in others windows {mom & dad weren't totally wrong}.
  • Pick up your garbage.
  • If you can avoid it, don't leave in the middle of a movie. Plan your departure during intermission so you're not disrupting others.
  • When you leave, drive slowly.

There you have it. Your ultimate guide to the drive-in. May your summer be rich with exciting movie-going experiences!

Do you have any advice to add? Share it in the comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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  1. I love it! I haven't been to a drive in movie in decades (unfortunately literally), but your prose brought back all the memories including the smells. I love it! Great writing, Alanna - as usual.

    1. Thanks! You should totally go if you have one close to you. Unfortunately there seem to be less and less of them around. I'm hoping I never see the day when ours closes. It still does a good, steady business so I think it should stick around.

  2. We haven't been for years! But I have been promising the boys we'll go sometime this summer. I'll have to start watching for what's playing so we don't miss our chance when a kids' movie is playing.

    1. You should totally go! The boys would love love love it!!!! The new Disney Planes movie should be there soon.

  3. This is so good. I especially like the etiquette part... but that's because all of those things annoy the snot out of me LOL

  4. I LOVE the drive-in! I can't wait to refer to this list when we go next time. And, no, we won't be neckin' ;) Our kids will be there! We only have one drive-in theater in the whole state (I think), and luckily it's only a few miles from where we live!

    1. Ha! Gone are those 'romantic' days, right? ;) Totally plan to go - it such a fun, inexpensive family event!


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