What? Drive-ins? What’s a drive-in theater? Isn’t that one of those old-timey places you had to drive a hundred miles to get to, only to watch a movie from your car on a screen one half of a mile away, with no dolby digital sound and no 3D? Why would anyone want to do that?
Ask any teenager if they would like to go see a movie at a drive-in and they’ll probably look at you like you have two heads. With all the fancy technology today most teenagers would probably shave their heads before going on a family outing to see a movie at the drive-in. And sadly, 94% of Florida’s Drive-in Movie Theaters have gone dark or been demolished. But believe it or not,out of the ones that are left, they are the best, and have stood the test of time. A drive-in movie night could turn out to be one of the most fun evenings you could spend for a family adventure…it might even end up to be a regular thing to do together, drawing the family even closer, and creating a special set of memories to cherish for a lifetime.
I remember drive-ins. It doesn’t seem so long ago (only 30 years or so) my first drive-in experience, with my parents of course, along with my brother and a few cousins. Actually, I think it was more like 10 of us piled into Mom and Dad’s van, followed by Dad’s brother and his wife and their kids, armed with popcorn, candy, sodas and enough snacks to kill hunger in Darfur. I’m pretty sure a few more people were hiding in Dad’s brother’s car trunk, but I can’t be sure. I was too focused on the giant bag of candy sitting on Mom’s lap that she would dole out at the appropriate time.
After finding just the right parking spot in front of the huge movie screen, a few of were allowed to sit on the roof of the van and sprawl out with our blankets, it was a cold night and we were in for a scary movie treat…”The Thing” with Kurt Russel was playing, finally it was time for Mom to hand out our share of the treats, and I’ll always remember my brother leaning over the side of the van and slowly lowering his sticky arm into Mom’s passenger window and scaring the beegeezus out of her just as “the Thing” was rearing it’s ugly head through a poor dog in the movie.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!” Mom screamed.
“How could you DO that, you little monster!
Now be-have up there and leave your poor mother alone or you’ll have NO MORE of this candy!”
It was a classic, truly right out of a movie scene. We loved it and still talk about it to this day. I only wish we could all do it again, but that specific drive-in theater is long since gone.
But, there’s good news for those on the West Coast of Florida wanting a little taste of a bygone era for a fun evening at a local drive-in, and maybe some thrifty shopping too.
Best Local Drive-In Movie Theaters Near Tampa, FL
1. Fun-Lan Drive-In
2302 East Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33610-4405
This one is by far the best local drive-in movie theater. It brings fond memories of one so similar from my childhood. But gone are the movie-sound boxes you hung on your car window. The movie is broadcast over your car FM radio and the station is given to you after you pay, so make sure you have a full tank of gas or a good car battery. There is an ok, traditional concession stand with typical spendy fare for sale, but try and avoid the bathrooms; they’re not the cleanest I’ve ever seen. The drive-in also duals as a flea market Wed.- Sun which makes it kind of fun, so you could come early before your movie and shop. Three (or four) screens guarantee a good movie; they pretty much play first run releases, and there’s lot’s of space to park if you go late.
Now Playing: Despicable Me, Inception, Predators, Ramona and Beezus, Salt, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Showtimes on Flixster
Drive In Theatre Open Every Night of The Year
Prices Per Movie- $6.00 per person and children ages 4 to 9 – $2.00
Box Office & Snack Bar opens Monday thru Thursday at 8:30pm, and Friday thru Sunday at 8:00pm. http://www.fun-lan.com/
2. Ruskin Family Drive In
5011 N US Highway 41,
Ruskin, FL 33572-3501
Since its first movie, “Singing in the Rain” played in 1952, Ruskin’s Family Drive-In Movie Theater has been going strong. Boasting a 2000 square foot screen, clean restrooms, snack bar and clean parking lot they are opened every night – 365 days a year, rain or shine, hot or cold, including holidays. This one’s food isn’t bad, last time I went a cheeseburger was only $2.00 and wasn’t that bad. You can even sit outside your car at this drive-in movie theater, as long as you are well behaved, they don’t put up with disruptive behavior, alcoholic beverages or excessive swearing in keeping with the family-friendly atmosphere. This drive-in movie theater has the option of using either or both the speaker box which can be hooked to your car window, or your car radio. They even allow family dogs to join the fun, but they must be leashed or in the vehicle at all times.
Now Playing -July 23 to July 29-Friday thru Thursday:
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – 8:45 pm, The Last Airbender-10:45pm Movies for Friday, July 30- Furry Vengeance- 8:45 p.m., The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 10:15 p.m.
email for upcoming movies; [email protected] .
3. Silver Moon Drive-In
4100 U.S. 92 W.
Lakeland, FL 33801
Phone: (863) 682-0849
Email: [email protected]
Official Website: http://silvermoondrivein.com/
Showtimes: check here
Open for over 50 years the Silver Moon Drive-In Theater is one of the best that’s still kickin’ after all these years. Admissions: Ages 4-9 $1.00 and 10-up $4.00
The Silvermoon has 2 large screens; and usually showing first-run top movies. Each screen has a double feature seven nights a week. Options for sound are through your FM car radio, but in-car speakers are Tavailable on some rows. They ask that large pick-ups and vans park to the rear as a courtesy to other patrons. You can shop at the flea market at this Drive-in theater too during the day on Saturday and Sundays from 5:30 am to around 3 pm and they have kick your butt breakfasts too.
4. Ocala Drive-In Movie Theater
(Marion County) Florida
4850 S. Pine Ave (Rte. 441)
352-629-1325 I’ve heard is RE-OPENED!
Ok, this one makes number four because all the other Drive-In Theaters in the Tampa area are either closed or too crappy to mention. This one has good prices, especially if you stay, you can get 2 to 3 movies (depending on what they are playing) for only $4.00 an adult, and kids 6 and under are totally free!! They do have current movies too, so you won’t feel like you’re getting a cheap-o deal. It also has the choice of window speaker box or car stereo, but I’d recommend your car stereo for this one. The concession stand isn’t bad, the [popcorn and nachos are almost a must at this drive-in, they are known for them. But a must-heed warning, please use the bathrooms at the Walmart near there as the bathrooms at Ocala Drive-In are so nasty, you wouldn’t even want your dog to use them. This one also has a decent flea market during the day on Wednesdays, and Friday-Sundays from 7am to 3pm.
Ruskin Family Drive In
Silver Moon Drive-In
Ocala Drive-In Movie Theater
etiquette at the drive-in; http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/205470/proper_etiquette_at_the_drivein_movie.html?cat=40
best local drivein theaters, drive-in, drive-in theaters,Tampa,Funlan