Friday, November 6, 2009

The Drive-In is Dead.....or is it? - Part 2

Drive-ins had already been around 15 years by the time the San Pedro Drive-in opened.

The First

The first drive-in opened on June 6, 1933 in Camden, New Jersey. Admission was $0.25 per person or $1.00 for a full car load! Three main speakers were mounted next to the screen that provided sound. The sound quality was not good for cars in the rear of the theater or for the surrounding neighbors.

California Drive-Ins

California's first drive-in movie theatre opened in June of 1938 (there were less than 15 "auto theaters" in all of America at that point). Within just ten years, another 43 drive-ins had opened up and California was on its way to becoming one of the top drive-in states.

Between 1948 - 1958, the number of drive-ins in the state of California more than quadrupled and, while the number of operating drive-ins in most states had peaked in the late 1950's, the number of drive-ins in the state of California kept climbing through the 60's, with more than 220 in operation by end of the decade.

Since that time, the number of drive-ins operating within the state has declined by 90%. Still, California is one of the Top 5 Drive-in states and more than 20 remain open.

The Largest

The largest drive-in theater in patron capacity was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York. All-Weather had parking space for 2,500 cars, an indoor 1,200 seat viewing area, kid's playground, a full service restaurant and a shuttle train that took customers from their cars and around the 28-acre theater lot.

The Smallest

The two smallest drive-ins were the Harmony Drive-In of Harmony Pennsylvania and the Highway Drive-In of Bamberg, South Carolina. Both drive-ins could hold no more than 50 cars.

The Strangest

An interesting innovation was the combination drive-in and fly-in theater. On June 3, 1948, Edward Brown, Junior opened the first theater for cars and small planes. Ed Brown's Drive-In and Fly-In of Asbury Park, New Jersey had the capacity for 500 cars and 25 airplanes. An airfield was placed next to the drive-in and planes would taxi to the last row of the theater. When the movies were over, Brown provided a tow for the planes to be brought back to the airfield.

The drive-in theater movie experience cannot be beat.

Now What?

Hey, this is the digital age. So many things that have faded over time reemerge disguised as a "new idea" and marketed to those who never experienced the "old idea" that is being revived by this "new idea".

Introducing the Open-Air Cinema! Old idea in new packaging! The only thing missing is all of the other people you can meet. Of course, nowadays, in this "chicken little" era, a lot of us are afraid of "the other people". Somehow, watching a large TV in my backyard doesn't do it for me. It lacks the "unique experience" you have at the drive-in. For those of you who have never experienced the Drive-in atmosphere, it's quite a unique experience that has all but disappeared.

Where Are the Drive-Ins?

Seek and you shall find.......!


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