By Hannah Kahl
Many people think of drive-in movie theaters as a thing of the past, but there are still some drive-in movie theaters around. The first drive-in movie theater opened in New Jersey in 1933. Drive-in movie theaters continued to be very popular throughout the next few decades, especially during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Drive-ins were known as the place to be on a summer night. Parents would take their kids to see the most recently released movie and teenagers in high school loved going to the drive-in. 90% of all drive-ins are now gone in the United States, but there are two left in Connecticut. The drive-ins in Connecticut that remain are the Mansfield Drive-In and the Pleasant Valley Drive-In. There used to be a drive-in movie theater in Branford called the Summit Drive-In on the Branford Hill. Surrounding towns, such as East Haven, Milford, and West Haven all had drive-ins as well.
This past summer I got to go to a drive-in movie theater in Malta, New York and it was such a great experience. The drive-in my family and I went to was just a big unpaved field with two screens set up. Each movie could hold about 150 cars. We saw the movie Orphan, which is a scary movie and watching it at the drive-in made it even scarier. The cars are lined up in total blackness with no lights in view. You are not even allowed to drive in with your headlights on.
The show begins with the old commercials from the fifties and sixties. There is a countdown to the feature film so that those people who have walked to the snack bar may return in time. Some of the old speakers that are set on poles are still in operating condition, but most people listen to the sound through the car radio. We loved it so much we went back again before the summer was over and saw The Final Destination. Some people that were at the drive-in had chairs set up, but my family and I just stayed in the car and watched. It is much better than the expensive, and typical, Branford Regal Movie Theater. Many drive-ins still offer car load night which is one price for the entire car no matter how many people come in. The drive- in asks that you purchase snacks from the snack bar but most people bring in coolers and food. I wish we still had a drive-in movie theater in Branford because it is a great and entertaining way to see new movies on a hot summer night.
Photo from Here.