Families, couples, and friends are searching for ways to be together over the summer months while following social distancing guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic. And, since going to the movies, in a packed indoor theater, is off the table as of now, there’s a better and safer option: drive-in movie theaters. Take part in this nostalgic American leisure activity and enjoy quality time spent with the people you love most. Some of these theaters have been around for decades, while others are brand-new. Keep reading to discover where to go, across the country, to enjoy this classic style of entertainment.
St. Louis, Missouri
The Drive-In St. Louis just opened and has been doing back-to-back concert and movie showings. This complex is the first and largest drive-in movie theatre in St. Louis. Shows will run every Thursday from now through the summer. Purchase tickets ahead of time to avoid person-to-person contact. Seeing a movie on a jumbotron, while sitting safely inside your own family vehicle, is a great way to socially distance while also supporting your community.
“Before we can begin to repair the damage that COVID-19 has caused on our economy, we first have to help people get past their fear and get back to a sense of normal,” says Dan Buck, Managing Partner at Big Sports Properties. “We can provide social and emotional recovery, while keeping everyone safe and socially distanced. Our visitors are so grateful to get back to doing something fun and to be out in the fresh air, rocking to some live music and enjoying a concert with family and friends.”
Everyone has been respectful and adherent to distancing measures, according to Buck, and while people do dance and have fun at night, they do so safely in their own private social area. “People are so grateful and happy to be out and enjoying a little bit of “normal”,” says Buck. “We see Illinois plates, Missouri Plates, and even some Kansas plates,” says Buck. “People are hungry for a safe good time, and this is the biggest show in the Midwest, and we have a party going just about every night of the week.”
The Miami Dolphins announced recently that there are plans for creating an outdoor theater at Hard Rock Stadium, which will showcase Miami Dolphins content from the teams’ 54-year history, as well as classic movies. The open-air drive-in theater will provide socially distant family-friendly entertainment for up to 230 vehicles. Food and beverages, as well as tickets, will be available through an online ordering and payment system to limit in-person contact.
“We’ve spent several weeks planning this to be able to provide people with a safe option to go out and enjoy movies, classic Dolphins content, concerts, and celebrate 2020 graduates,” said Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium Vice Chairman and CEO, Tom Garfinkel, in a press release. “It’s a fundamental human need to physically experience and celebrate events and experiences together, and we’re trying to provide options for everyone where they can be safely socially distant and socially present at the same time.”
The family-owned open-air theater, Sauerbeck Family Drive-In, located in La Grange, Kentucky, showcases weekly movies for the affordable price of $15. Business has never been better and attendance has doubled since 2019. Sauerbeck Family Drive-In was built in 2018 and parking is available for 450 cars.
“Customers are familiar with social distancing being part of their lives now,” says Stephen Sauerbeck, owner of Sauerbeck Enterprises. “We equipped our parking with 6-foot social distancing poles so we can ensure proper spacing between cars. For the most part, our facility was designed for social distancing; we built a pavilion to host live events as we have gotten so many requests for graduations, concerts, weddings, and all sorts of events.”
During these times of the Coronavirus, says Sauerbeck, the drive-in has reduced its capacity, but it is excited to be able to partner with the community and provide socially distant entertainment opportunities.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Located on Kings Mountain, just west of Charlotte, sits Hound’s Drive-In, a two-screen open-air entertainment compound. Recently, a third showing day has been added to the line-up due to high demand. Social distancing measures have been implemented and new improvements have been made, like fresh asphalt, internet upgrades, and site landscaping. Movies begin at dusk and the price is $20 per car.
Families are taking advantage of this entertainment option as a way to stay safe during these uncertain times, yet get outside and enjoy being in the community.
San Luis Obispo, California
In SLO CAL’s San Luis Obispo, sits one of the last remaining classic Californian drive-in theaters: Sunset Drive-In. Families can load up in a car, any day of the week, and pay $8 per person, for ages 12 and up, to see a double-feature. To protect viewers, Sunset Drive-In is asking cars to park spaced out and to maintain the six-foot social distancing rules when at concessions or restrooms. Wearing a face mask when milling about, washing hands often, and using hand sanitizer is recommended.
Enjoying a movie at a drive-in theater is an excellent way to be outside, bond with family and friends, and connect with your community. Yes, it’s true: drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.