Decades ago, when times were simpler, drive-in theaters were all the rage. It was where Americans experienced the sheer terror of Hitchcock’s Psycho, the brilliance of Kubrick and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, and the toe-tapping tunes and choreography from West Side Story. Ah, that was the life!
In 1960, there were over 4000 drive-ins in America. Today, you can almost count the number of theaters with your fingers and toes. It’s unfortunate, sure, but the drive-in movie hasn’t entirely gone the way of the buffalo! Arizona’s sole survivor, Glendale’s West Wind Drive-In, is still very much alive and kicking. So, why not inject a bit of nostalgia into your summer by watching a film like our grandparents did?
Here are some tips to get the most out of your first drive-in movie.
What to Bring to the Drive-In Theater
Other than yourself and the family, what other essential items are needed to make the most out of your drive-in movie night? Here’s a checklist:
- Drinks (no alcohol)
- A small cooler
- Napkins and wet wipes
- Plastic bags or trash bags
- A portable radio (if not using your car’s radio)
- Kids’ stuffed animals
- Bug spray
- Camping chairs
As always, you can forego bringing your own snacks in favor of items at the concession stand. Support your local drive-in by purchasing food and drinks, because that’s how they can afford to stay open. (Anyways, a big tub of popcorn is a necessity, right?)
Like a modern, “traditional” movie theater, always keep your phone off. Otherwise, the rules at a drive-in are unique. To make sure everyone enjoys their drive-in experience, heed this advice:
- Don’t take up more than one spot. We know you love having your own personal space, but one parking spot equals one parked car—no exceptions.
- Keep the kids in sight. Although the West Wind Drive-in in Glendale has a playground, children should be inside the vehicle while films are playing.
- Leave the pets at home. A barking dog is no fun for other movie-goers.
- Refrain from using your car’s interior lights. While it’s unfortunate you dropped that French fry, picking it up can wait until the credits roll.
- Never turn on your headlights, especially when the movies are playing.
- Don’t litter. Keep your trash until the end of the film, at which point you can toss it.
- If you own a bigger vehicle, like the Honda Odyssey or Pilot, park them in the back of the lot. Reserve the front spots for smaller vehicles, like the Accords and Civics of the world.
- You can talk and giggle inside the car, but try to keep the outside noises down, whippersnappers.
- Although drive-ins were a common place for pubescent tomfoolery in the ‘60s, today they’re made for families. Don’t get hot and heavy with your date—that’s just gross.
Other Useful Tips & Ideas
- If you drive an older, less-reliable vehicle—or can’t really depend on your battery—start the engine during intermission. Jump-starts are easy enough to get at the drive-in, but do you really want to be that person?
- Double-features can last into the wee hours of the night. Don your favorite pair of comfy pajamas for the occasion.
- Arrive about an hour before the first showtime. This guarantees you the best seat and ample time for the kids to play and eat.
- Visit the restrooms during boring scenes; those bathrooms can be chaotic during intermissions.
- It’s HOT in Arizona, but running your car’s AC while idle isn’t always the best idea. Try and head to the drive-in when nighttime temperatures are at least tolerable.
- Treat your drive-in movie as a tailgate party. Load up the cooler, pack the camping chairs, bring lawn games.
- Read through your local drive-in theater’s FAQs (if they have one) for specific rules.
- The Honda Ridgeline makes for a perfect drive-in truck, just in case you wanted to know. Back into your spot, lay down some pillows and blankets, light a few Citronella candles, and you’ve got your own little piece of movie-watching paradise.
Let’s Save the Drive-In!
Follow Honda’s lead—their 2013 Project Drive-In program sought to keep America’s time-honored tradition going—and catch a couple movies at a drive-in theater near you this summer. Search for locations and showtimes in your state online. Let’s get back to the basics.
If you need help picking out a good vehicle to watch drive-in movies, we can help! Our Honda dealerships near Glendale, AZ, have a variety of spacious new Honda models and affordable pre-owned SUVs for every type of family. Locate your nearest Valley Honda Dealers to browse our selection and special Honda offers in Arizona.
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