Month: April 2013

Shankweiler’s Drive-In

Date of Visit: April 20, 2013

I was pumped when we decided we would take the hour and a half drive up to Orefield, PA to attend the movies at Shankweiler’s Drive-In. My adventures to visit other (open) drive-ins outside of Delsea DI were really happening!!

  • History:IMG_4306

Shankweiler‘s is the longest-running theater in America – it opened on April 15, 1934 and has been in continuous operation since. Impressive (and quite awesome) to say the least. Shankweiler’s was actually the 2nd drive-in to open in the United States, following the original Camden Drive-In in NJ (…that will be a blog in the near future). Unlike the Camden DI, however, Shankweiler’s has managed to survive!

When they first opened, Shankweiler’s used sound projected from a speaker near the screen. As inventions and technology advanced, Shankweiler’s added speaker poles and car speakers in 1948. As far as sound goes, the use of an AM station occurred in 1982, and then finally the advancement to FM frequency in 1986 (the year I was born!). FM radio is the current sound projection used by Shankweiler’s, as it seems to be with the majority of DI theaters I have researched.

I found it interesting to learn about Shankweiler’s screen… originally it was a simple sheet, stretched out. Then it was a “shadow box” or small screen. However, in 1955 a rough hurricane (I shall not speak her name!) destroyed the screen and projection booth. That same year, a new screen was built, as well as a projection booth/concession stand/restroom location. The screen and building for projections/concessions/bathrooms in 2013 is the same from 1955.  In case you didn’t figure it out, Shankweiler’s has one screen. According to drive-ins.com and a few other sites, about 300 cars is the capacity.

  • My Visit

Showtime was 8:15 pm, and we arrived at 6:39 pm (according to my camera). IMG_4279As we came to the stoplight at Rt 309 and Shankweiler Rd, the Neon Sign across the street had me fumbling with my camera for a good shot. I was bouncing in the passenger seat, anticipating the view of the entrance. As we made the left-hand turn, the back of the screen and entrance marquee was prominently in view. I mean, you can’t miss the place! We pulled over and parked right outside to get some photos – crossed the street to the neon sign, and then back over so we could enter the theater.

Entrance Shankweiler's DI

Spot @ Shankweiler's DI

The Perfect Spot

When we pulled in, only about 3 cars were parked already. Since we are a “high vehicle” we had to park between the yellow poles. After 3 tries, we found our perfect spot. Blankets and pillows were arranged, and then I started snapping pictures.

I liked that there was gravel for driving and grass for parking, delineating the spots and allowing a bit more comfort if you chose to sit outside the car. I did see one girl jumping rope before the movies, and a couple of families setting up chairs.

Concession, Projection Booth, Restrooms

Concession, Projection Booth, Restrooms at Shankweiler’s DI

The concession stand had the basics – hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, goobers, and other candy assortments. An entrance on both sides of the building allows customers to get their food easily, regardless of their parking destination. My hot dog was perfect, the large soda was GIANT, and the popcorn was yummy.

I have to say it was VERY COLD that night. Even under sleeping bags and 2 blankets I felt the chill. Definitely not a night to sit outside, and also might be the reason for a smaller attendance rate. It was also the first weekend they were open so word might not have gotten out yet. Let’s face it, not everyone is receiving weekly newsletters or checking websites a few times a week! Regardless, it was a great night.

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I had a chance to speak with Susan, one of the owners, before the first movie. What a sweet person! According to their 70 Years pamphlet, Susan and her husband have been part of the Shankweiler establishment since 1971 and then purchased the theater in 1984. Susan shared that they have several, non-local families that visit each year.

Shankweiler’s is truly a great place to visit, enjoy a couple movies, and create your own drive-in memories. Check it out!

Google Maps

Aerial View – So neat to see it like this!

Shankweiler’s Drive-In
4540 Shankweiler Road
Orefield, PA 18069
http://www.shankweilers.com/

Some additional photos…

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When on Rt. 309, about to turn left onto Shankweiler Road – there is the sign!

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My First Drive-In Night

September 2010 was a fantastic month for me and one of those reasons was my first visit to a drive-in movie. Delsea Drive-In, in Vineland, NJ.

Before this I had never known they still existed! Drive-in theaters sounded like an old-time conversation piece my mom would have been excited to discuss. So when my now-boyfriend (he asked me out later that night!) and friends wanted to have a drive-in hang out, I was a bit curious.

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That curiosity changed to pure excitement when we arrived – pulling up to the ticket booth behind a load of cars, getting my first glance of the screens. We received our “ticket,” which was a folded paper with the movies, FM channels per screen, and a menu for the concessions.

We parked at Screen #2, unloaded chairs and set-up around the cars. Photos were snapped, food was bought, and bottoms were settled into chairs for the first movie. It was chilly as we sat outside, so we also bundled ourselves under blankets.

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The intermission screen glowed with dancing hot dogs, popcorn, and sodas, encouraging the viewers to frequent the concession stand. I remember that we had pizza that night, among other snacks.

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After the 2nd movie we headed back towards home, and I was hooked. I had to go back, and I wanted to experience watching the movies in the car (back of the car to be exact – blankets, pillows, hatchback…;-). I was on Cloud 9 and haven’t come back down yet. ♥

Happy Opening Day!

Today is the day – the Delsea Drive-In, New Jersey’s only operating drive-in theater, OPENS! http://www.delseadrive-in.com/

Unfortunately, I will not be attending opening weekend due to prior engagements; however, I am excited for Drive-In season to begin. My next update will be about my very first trip to the drive-in… I can’t believe that was over 2 years ago!

Cheers to a great season!

Introduction

Delsea drive-in

My 1st drive-in visit: Delsea Drive-in (New Jersey)

September 2010. In the midst of being swept-off-my-feet by an amazing guy, he unknowingly introduced me to my new interest (obsession): the drive-in movie theater. On a group outing with some friends I attended my first drive-in movie and fell in love…

Flash-forward and it is 2 1/2 years later, April 2013. I now own 3 books about drive-ins, I have a bookmarked folder for websites/links, and a goal to visit as many drive-ins as I can. And not just drive-ins that are open, but those that have left remains behind.

This blog is a way for me to share my explorations, my findings, my enthusiasm.

Who knows…maybe you’ll catch some drive-in nostalgia too.