My Visit – 12/30/12:
Although my first experience with drive-ins occurred on a date to the Delsea Drive-In, my intent interest, and eventual creation of this blog, began after passing by the abandoned Circus Drive-In in Mullica Township, NJ. To think that there were living footprints of drive-ins throughout the country, mere miles from my own home, was incredible.
The Circus Drive-In is visible from Rt. 30 (the White Horse Pike), if you look closely. The site has been overrun by trees and in the spring and winter; it can be difficult to spot the screen while speeding by. The screen is so close to the road! I have even taken to driving the White Horse Pike instead of the expressway to go to Atlantic City… all to pass this lone screen, standing still while time passes it by.
When we visited, it was very easy to navigate the grounds. Although many trees cover the property, the lines from the parking and driving have left easy trails. We found some cement blocks, most likely from speaker poles at one point in time. There is also some cement base – gray and red – from one of the buildings, presumingly the projection booth.
Although this drive-in site is not very different from others I have visited, and even has less visible remains than some, it was the beginning of my …well, obsession.
For the first time in my research I have had contact with an owner of a drive-in, even if that person was not in charge at that time! According to Bruce Frank, CEO of Frank Family Entertainment Group and President of Frank Theatres, the Circus Drive-In opened in 1954. His grandfather and father opened this drive-in in honor of Bruce’s sister being born. Some personal accounts online say the theater opened in 1953.
Some accounts talk about a giant circus clown marquee – unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a photograph of the marquee. Mr. Bruce Frank has said that he does not have any photos but will pass them along if he comes across any.
The Circus DI closed by 1979. 35 years later the drive-in still leaves its mark.
Circus Drive-In 3320 S. Whitehorse Pike Hammonton, NJ 08037
For some historical photos, visit: http://www.drive-ins.com/gallery/njtcirc/circus-drive-in-hammonton-nj. The public has uploaded photos from visits in present-day, as well as posters and tickets! Very neat to see.
Other photographs from my visit – I had a lot of fun that day and snapped all sorts of angles.
There are quite a few to browse, I hope you enjoy!
Driving south on Rt. 30 – you can see the screen behind the trees.
Drive-by shot – screen seen from Rt. 30