June 22, 2009

Happy days are here again. The drive-in movie theater, all but extinct a few short years ago, is making a comeback. Since 2000, 11 drive-ins across the country have been restored and reopened, and six new ones have been built. With 433 theaters in operation in the United States (see www.drive-ins.com or www.uditoa.org for one near you) and three more slated to debut this year, it's time to go back—and take the gang. Today's drive-ins are being recast as family entertainment centers, with pre-theater magic shows and name-that-tune contests as well as playgrounds, miniature-golf courses, even bumper cars and go-carts (just don't try them after a barrel of popcorn). Forget second-run flicks and those problem-prone speaker poles—these theaters are showing first-run blockbusters, with sound that's loud and clear, transmitted via your car radio. Coming soon: digital projection, which will cast a clearer picture on the big screen. Thankfully, one thing hasn't changed all that much—a double feature still costs only about $10 a carload.
—Emily Holt

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