Open & Operating Theaters

Point 3 Drive-In (Open, PA)

Our Visit (September 21, 2015):

This was our first drive-in theater where we were allowed to, and brought!, our dog, Max! Needless to say, I was excited about his aspect right from the start. I had seen photos of drive-ins with tail-wagging dogs in the background, but had yet to experience this side of the drive-in. We made a night of our trip – visiting Centralia, PA to explore a Weird Pennsylvania article location, drove by the Laurel Drive-In in Hazleton, PA (post to come eventually – we went there the previous year!), and went to the Point 3 Drive-In.

We arrived early so I could take photos of the outside pieces – marquee, back of the main screen, drive-way…the usual. The Point 3 has old ticket booths at the tree border, marking the entrance. The ticket booths are no longer used, but serve a taste of nostalgia. As you pass through the ticket booths (overhand present!), the block of pine trees to your left clear out to expose the expansive drive-in.

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Following the drive-way, cars approach the back end of the snack bar. This serves as the ticket booth, advertised by a neon sign. Our screen (#3) was to our far right. Both Screen 2 and 3 lots are covered in grass. When we first came in, I wondered about parking for the movie. Lanes nor spacers were marked – only the slight incline for optimal viewing indicated the parking locations. I needn’t worry – my husband chose a perfect spot, and it was not overly crowded (yes…a wedding over the summer kept me away from blogging!).

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Max and I explored the grounds while Dan set up the back of the jeep with the blankets, pillows, etc. Max was drawn towards the snack-bar (of course), but no dogs allowed inside. We saw an elevated seating area, with overhead coverage, next to the snack bar, and some picnic benches on the other side. There was a slide and play-set to the left of Screen 1, which is always neat to see (I think it really shows the focus on children and families!).

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Our food was good – typical snack-bar snacks. The soda was self-serve, a first I had seen at a drive-in. Our movies were good – “Pixels” and “Trainwreck” – the adult movie set out of the three screen choices. Most cars left after “Pixels,” but then again, most of the cars had children.

All in all, it was a fun evening and we were glad to be there for their last night of the season!

 

History:

The Point 3 Drive-In was originally called the Arrow Drive-In Theatre, opening between 1952 and 1953 in Danville, Pennsylvania. According to Billboard (June 21, 1952), the drive-in opened in summer of 1952. Harold E. Bell opened the drive-in with the help of Allied Booking and Buying Service. By September 13, 1952, Billboard reported that new lamps were installed at the drive-in. By May 30, 1953, Bell resigned from his other theater management position at College Theater in Bethlehem to manage the Arrow Drive-In. Bell seemed to have been a theater advocate, being a manager of regular Berwick theaters up until 1950, and also a salesman of Perkins Theatre Supply Co from 1952-55.

The name change timeframe is uncertain, occurring sometime between 1955 and 1958. The Theatre Catalog lists the drive-in as the Arrow Drive-In in 1955, and the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures lists the drive-in as the Point Drive-In in 1958. While running under the name of Arrow Drive-In, the theater had one screen. This continued through 1966 at least (via Historic Aerials). By 1993, historic aerials seems to show 3 screens.

David Renn is the current owner and has been for the past 27 years (Renn, in person, 9/21/2015). Prior to Renn it seems that Cinecom Theatre ran the Point, after Comerford Theaters was in charge and sold out to them in the late 1960s. Looking into these theater companies does not bring out any connections to the drive-in, although they are associated with local theaters.

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Point 3 Drive-In Theatre Route 11 & Northumberland-Da Hwy Danville, PA 17821

 

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Video to Support Drive-Ins!

Mod Betty (an awesome, retro-hunting blogger) has posted a kick-starter video to support the drive-ins! Check it out (featuring Shankweiler’s Drive-In!!).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThEvPLYXnP4&feature=youtu.be

 

If you like the video, check out her page: http://retroroadmap.com/

The Ultimate Drive-In Night

Well, this post is drive-in theater related, but is not the usual content!

 

On Saturday, April 26, Dan and I attended our first drive-in of the season (wooo! at Delsea. Since it was the first of the season, we invited family and friends…. and oddly enough, everyone wanted to go! Before the movie started we had 13 cars and 36 people! So much fun!

 

The real story happened during intermission, in-between the two movies…

 

     “Hard to Concentrate” by Red Hot Chili Peppers began to play and up on the screen, where dancing popcorn and hot dogs usually appear, a slideshow began.

Dan proposed!

     Although there were some technical difficulties, it was more than I ever could have imagined or dream of… it was beautiful. It was perfect.

So, as if the drive-in wasn’t already a memorable, meaningful, important, wonderful place in my life, it has now become even more special.

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On the screen!!

The Proposal on the screen!!

Pictures, before the movie and proposal…

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Bengies Drive-In Theatre

Bengies Drive In

My Visit – August 10, 2013:

The Baltimore area is a fun place to visit, and once we found out about Bengies we decided to take a trip down. Luckily I did some research ahead of time because there are many rules for this particular drive-in.

One major thing you need to know about Bengies is they have a NO PHOTO policy anywhere on the property.

We arrived early and parked nearby. We walked around the property to get a feel for the size and a glimpse of what we would see later that night. I did snap some photos from the outside, mainly because I wanted to share an image to show the screen size.

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As you enter the drive-in, you will immediately notice the barrage of signs warning you of the various rules for the property. It was a bit intimidating and overwhelming – one of those times where you feel guilty even though you are completely innocent! I knew there would be signs ahead of time, thanks to Mod Betty and retroroadmap.com (blog post: http://retroroadmap.com/spot/its-drive-in-movie-season-maryland-new-york-and-pennsylvania/, specific picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/modbetty/4630018820/).

Entering the theater grounds (aside from the signs) is very pleasant. Besides the ticket booth, there was also a greeter near the concession stand, directing cars and wishing them a good night at the drive-in.

We parked in the center and a few rows back from the screen. The concession stand was very busy, with two sides servicing customers. The food was good; nothing sticks out as being an amazing food choice.  They have a lot of merchandise for sale, which made me excited to add to my t-shirt collection. Unfortunately they did not have my top 2 choices and I had to settle for my 3rd choice. I waited awhile for service to buy the t-shirt, since I had to go to a separate register from the food line. Also, the workers behind the counter weren’t visibly happy. At all. Everyone seemed hurried and distracted.

Bengies shows three movies, starting with the lowest rated. So we watched Smurfs 2, followed by Grown Ups 2. Due to our drive home we did not stay for movie #3. I was disappointed because Grown Ups 2 was listed as the third movie in the program, but the marquee had it listed as #2…

Several things about this theater bothered me, one being the talking over the credits. As soon as the end music and credits began, there was a person talking over the movie giving announcements. I found it distracting, unnecessary, and pushy for it to immediately begin at the credits. He (the announcer) also repeatedly mentions the rules during these announcements.

In-between the 2 movies, we turned the car on to keep the battery from fading. Honestly, I do not understand how this works or why, but it is something Dan has taught me and we always do at Delsea for a couple minutes. Immediately, a worker came over and told us to turn off the car to prevent CO2 emissions. Hm.

Overall, I am glad we visited Bengies – it has a large screen, vintage memorabilia and cars, kind greeters, a playground for children, and is one of the last drive-ins in the area. However, I don’t need to go back to this one. I feel it was more profit-based instead of maximizing the experience of the drive-in. Since visiting several other drive-ins, I prefer the latter.

History/Information:
According to bengies.com, the theatre opened on June 6, 1956. They just closed their 58th season running – quite incredible! Three brothers named Jack, Paul, and Hank Vogel built the theater. Jack Vogel was the architect and designed this theater, as well as several others in the US. Interestingly, the drive-in was named after Benjamin Harrison (former president) because the area used to be known as Bengies, MD. D. Edward Vogel is the current owner and operator of the drive-in.

The screen is 52′ x 120′ and Bengies quotes itself as having the biggest screen in the USA. I have found a contradiction to this statement, since the Capri Drive-In (Coldwater, MI) lists its screen as 150’ x 75’.

The current marquee is not the original. The first marquee had an apostrophe between the e and s. There is a story about the apostrophe, which can be found in the City Paper link below. The current marquee was put up in the 1970s and did not use the apostrophe. Speakers were present up until at least 1998.

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Information regarding the original builders, name, and marquee come from a 1998 article in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/movies/features/bengiesfacts.htm.

Interesting tid-bits about Bengies:

Bengies Drive In - Google Maps

Bengies Drive-In Theater
3417 Eastern Blvd
Middle River, MD 21220

Family Drive-In: Stephens City, VA

How I came across the Family Drive-in

My best friend MK moved to Winchester, VA a couple years ago to work at the University. My initial reaction was excitement for the job opportunity and sadness because she’d be so far away. On the bright side, I saw this as a chance to see a new place.

Before my 3rd visit, I discovered there was a local drive-in while surfing the web and my regular drive-in websites. How had I not known? I made it my goal to scope out the drive-in as soon as possible.

My Visit(s)

October 20, 2012:

MK wasn’t too keen on going to the drive-in, so we just stopped by during the day to see the site. I fell in love … it was my first time seeing the classic car speakers and a playground in front of a screen. I promised myself (and told MK) that the next time I visited we were going for sure!

July 19, 2013:

We arrived at 6:45 pm for a 9:00 pm showing. You never know how crowded it is going to be or what time to arrive with drive-ins! I wanted to have a good spot and since it was MK and her friend Rick’s first time at a drive-in. There were probably about 20 cars already, mostly at the first screen. Our movies were, “Grown-Ups 2” and “The Heat.”

When you arrive to the Family Drive-In the first thing you should notice is the back of Screen 1, which serves as a marquee and announcement of the theater’s name. It slopes out and down from the top of the screen, white background and red letters (they light up later!). Below the name there is a letter board for both screens naming the movies showing. Drive In 001

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I liked the classic aisle lights and Screen # light. A giant median as well as the concession stand/projection booth separates the two screens’ spaces. After we parked and set-up I walked around the snap some photos. The speakers were by far the most interesting and neat aspect of the Family Drive-In. I frequent Delsea DI often and we visited Shankweiler’s; however, neither drive-in has speakers remaining. After reading a couple books on drive-ins and an overabundance of articles I was ecstatic to see the speakers in person! They are about 4 feet tall and only one company makes and supplies parts for them!

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Screen #1 has playground equipment in front – swings, a slide, etc. This is another common feature of drive-ins during their hey-day, but my first time seeing them in use. Once the movie starts, the playground closes. Screen #2 had a couple benches out front.

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The concession stand had a range of food choices at reasonable prices. They have an inside and outside set-up, with certain items available outside only (including funnel cakes and sno-cones). I purchased a t-shirt as memorabilia – there were two design choices and a TON of colors. I ended up choosing a light gray because I liked the bright/neon green on the design.

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Overall, we had a great time! Everyone I spoke to was very nice and helpful. The food was good, movies were funny, and the night was cool (which was a blessing considering the night before was 100 degrees).

Some History:

The theatre has been open for 57 years! It opened on June 14, 1956, owned and operated by the Dalke Family of Woodstock, VA. In March 2009, Tim Dalke leased the theatre to Jim Kopp (the lease runs for another 7 years). The theatre holds about 400-500 cars (conflicting data between articles).

The Family Drive-In started as a single screen theater. In 1989 they added the second screen. They open around Mid-March through to November. Each night there 4 movies playing – 2 movies per screen.

Recently, the Family DI announced they will be converting to Digital by the end of August! This is great news for locals and drive-in enthusiasts and supporters. Many theaters are threatened by this conversion to digital and the Family DI was able to make the change!

There have been several articles and interviews recently about the Family Drive-In, generating attention and business for drive-ins all over (The Washington Post, Washington Post 2, BBC’s Radio 5, Roll Call, and VOA).

Go Visit! They were great people and a great drive-in. Visit their Facebook page or website and if you get a chance, visit the actual drive-in!

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Family Drive-In

5890 Valley Pike

Stephens City, VA

www.thefamilydriveintheatre.com

Other Photos:

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Divider between the 2 Screens

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Waiting in line!

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The speaker is ready to go!

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Row Markers –

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Photos from the 1st visit, just looking at the property:

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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!!

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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.

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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!