Skip to Content

Everything You Need for a Drive-In Movie

Movie fanatics are used to either watching movies online or at the movie theater. On nice days or for a fun summer activity, how about going to a drive-in movie theater? These used to be popular in the 1950s, but they seem to be an outdated trend. I think we should bring them back!

What to Know Before Going to a Drive-In Movie

Locate their website and Facebook page.

Drive-in theaters are usually small and locally-owned. So, they are not likely to have a fancy website. More than likely, they will have an updated Facebook page.

They typically offer family-friendly, second-run movies. Second-run cinemas show films no longer playing in regular cinemas, typically one or two months after the film's opening. They may also show classic or cult classic movies, too.

The season is usually late-Spring to late-Fall, weather permitting. The same movie is screened twice (back-to-back) or two different movies are screened on Friday night and Saturday night, with the first show premiering at dark and the second showing afterward.

In summer, the hours may be extended to Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The sound may be provided on a special radio frequency (listen in your car's radio or bring a portable radio) or the theater may have its own sound system.

You pay a discounted ticket price per person (typically about 50% off, with children often discounted, and very young children may be free.

RELATED:  Summer Movies for Kids In Theaters

Arrive about 30 minutes before the movie starts to allow for a long line at the entrance. Allow even more time if you plan to go to the snack bar.

If you want to tailgate, look for special areas to park that will allow you to open your hatch.

Dress comfortably.

If you're bringing kids, bring entertainment (board games, cards, electronics, other friends/family to play with, etc.) because the gates usually open an hour or two before the movie starts around dusk. You want to be prepared to entertain them or they will be restless.

Questions to Ask Before Going to a Drive-In Movie

What are ticket prices or entrance fees?

The entire amount paid for a ticket, including the air cost, as well as any relevant taxes, levies, surcharges, and fees paid for all optional and non-optional services included in the ticket, is referred to as the ticket price. On the other hand, an entrance fee is a sum of money that you must pay before entering a place such as a movie or museum, or that you must pay in order to join an organization or institution.

Can you purchase tickets online?

Skip the line! You can purchase tickets online.

Avoid the long lines and save time by purchasing your tickets from the convenience of your own home. Whenever you want – rain or shine! See the following video tutorial to learn how to buy tickets online:

Are credit cards/debit cards accepted?

Some do, while many do not. Others may allow credit cards at the concession area but not at the box office where you pay your entrance. As a general guideline, we recommend bringing lots of cash when visiting a new drive-in cinema.

Is outside food allowed?

The audio for the movies is now broadcasted through FM frequencies in the majority of drive-ins. So, if you're going to sit outside your car, bring a radio to listen to the music. In general, you should not bring food or beverages to the drive-in. All drive-ins have concession stalls where the majority of their revenue is generated.

RELATED:  Movies in Theaters on Amazon Prime

Do you continue the show if it rains?

During rain or bad weather, The Drive-In will continue to show the planned films. If there is fog or bad weather that may prevent us from screening the films, the sessions may be canceled.

Is there an area for kids to play?

There are several drive-in movie theaters for kids and families that are ideal for a family night out!

Can you bring chairs?

Seating. If your car doesn't offer a good view of the massive screen from the back seat, you may wind up deciding to sit outside for better visibility. Bring lawn chairs that you can set up in front of your vehicle so you don't have to sit on the ground.

Do you have restrooms?

Not all drive-ins have bathrooms because you're in a parking lot. Many provide temporary toilets for individuals who require them — which is probably not your ideal circumstance. So, don't drink too much!

Is alcohol allowed?

In general, no. Almost all drive-ins forbid the use of alcoholic beverages. There are a few drive-ins that offer alcohol in their concession sections, but you cannot take it back to your car and must drink it at the concession/bar area.

Are pets allowed?

Most drive-in theaters have the same rules for pets. They must: be on a leash no longer than 6 feet whenever they are outside the car. be friendly or at least tolerant toward other people and dogs.

What to Bring to a Drive-In Movie

  • cash for tickets and/or concessions
  • portable radio
  • extra batteries
  • hoodie or light jacket
  • pillows
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • seat cushions
  • lawn chairs
  • hand sanitizer
  • bug spray
  • bug bite relief
  • first aid kit
  • extra water bottles
  • snacks
  • drinks
  • trashbag

Everything You Need for a Drive-In Movie

Before you go to a drive-in movie theater, it’s very important to prepare for viewing comfort as well as for any problems that might arise. To ensure you have everything you need for a drive-in movie, follow our quick guide.

Automotive repair and safety gear

For your trip to the drive-in, you can’t forget about the vehicle essentials, which will help you in the case of a car accident or a typical car malfunction. It’s also very important to buy the correct car seats for children and to ensure that all seatbelts work properly. You can never be too prepared when it comes to safety and car troubles.

RELATED:  Summer Movies for Kids In Theaters

Will a drive-in movie kill my battery?

Anyway, you can always turn on your car's AC or the car heater when it is in intermission time. A lot of drive-in movies used the FM radio to send the audio for the movie sound. However, two hours of using the car stereo will drain your battery.

How To Watch A Drive-in Movie Without Draining A Car Battery

Shut off your car and use a portable radio.

Wear light, comfortable clothing if it's hot out so you don't have to run the car and crank the A/C. If it's cold, dress warmly and bring some blankets. You can always run the A/C or heater during intermission.

Weather-dependent gear

It’s also important to bring adequate weather gear. If it’s a cooler night, you might want to bring a hoodie or light jacket and a blanket. You might even want to bring a winter coat and gloves. Because most movies last at least an hour and a half, it’s better to come more prepared than you think you need to be. Weather can be fickle, and the last thing you want is to freeze during the middle of the movie. If you’re going to the drive-in during the spring or summer, you might want to bring lawn chairs and extra water bottles.

Comfort Gear

Some people like to sit outside of their cars for the best viewing. In this case, blankets and lawn chairs will provide comfort. If you choose to stay in your car, seat cushions will enhance your comfort as well. If you’re going to the drive-in to celebrate someone’s birthday or another special occasion, you may want to pack cake or other sweets. If you’re going on a date, you could bring a bottle of champagne. Of course, your ability to bring these items may depend on drive-in rules. However, if there aren’t many restrictions, this is everything you need for your drive-in movie experience.


Use this search to find the closest drive-in movie theater to you. 

Check out Lifehacker's tips for how to be the ideal drive-in movie patron.

Sharing is caring!