The Magic Lives on at These Forgotten Washington Drive-In Movie Theaters
There was something magical about Drive-In movie theaters. Before we could hold movies in the palm of our hand and take them on road trips, a parking lot with a larger-than-life screen was revolutionary.
Drive-ins are not dead
Mostly lost to history, there are a few places in Washington State where you can embrace your nostalgia and see brand new, first-run movies from the comfort of your SUV.
The Rodeo drive-in
Located in Bremerton, the Rodeo Drive-In actually has three screens to choose from. I guess if you don’t like your movie, you can find a better place to park?
Skyline Drive-In Theater
Shelton is home to the Skyline Drive-In theater, whose name instantly conjures mid-century modern imagery.
Wheel-In Motor Movie Drive-In
Port Townsend’s Wheel-In Motor Movie Drive-In offering is smack in the middle of a forest setting, which is either very beautiful or extra creepy, depending on what type of movie you’re watching.
Blue Fox Drive-In
The Blue Fox Drive In is located in Oak Harbor, which boasts cottages, bed and breakfasts and Air BnBs, so plan on spending the night after your late-night, double-feature picture show.
Auto Vue Drive-In
Just outside of Spokane in Colville, the Auto Vue is a popular destination for nostalgic Spokanites, who bring carloads of family and friends.
Who came up with the idea for Drive-Ins?
Invented by Richard Hollingshead in 1933, Americans found the novelty of “Park In” theaters, as he called them, irresistible entertainment.
Where was the first drive-in movie located?
Hollingshead’s Camden Drive-In was located in Pennsauken New Jersey.
How much did drive-in movies cost?
From the start, drive-in theaters were an affordable way to treat the whole family to new Hollywood releases. You could pack the whole family in tight with pillows and blankets, and watch new films for about a buck per carload! Never mind that many of the titles were “B” movies.
When were drive-in movies popular?
Culturally, the Drive-In really came into its own during the 1950s. Being outdoors, in the dark, under the stars, was the perfect way to watch Body Snatchers invade or James Dean rebel with no cause.
What made drive-in movies so special?
Drive-In theaters were a gathering place for teens, out of school for the summer, and excited to see classmates again. Maybe they’d meet at the snack bar and share popcorn and soda on the hood of their parents' car, claiming later that “I don’t know how that dent got there.”
Young adults sat through double, sometimes even triple features, thus extending their curfew on a Friday or Saturday night.
Most famously, Drive-In Theaters offered you and your sweetheart someplace to cuddle close and kiss, without interruption; perhaps with the seats reclined.
Nostalgic yet? Curious what all the fuss is about? Use our list to enjoy Washington’s magical drive-ins. And let us know if we missed any - we’ll add them to our list!
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