Drive-In Movie Theaters: Yesterday and Today

Beth Tracton-Bishop, Ph.D.

Did you know that on June 6, 1933, the country’s first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, NJ? Since then seeing a movie up on the big screen while sitting in you car has become a warm weather tradition. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are “fewer than 270 drive-ins remaining in operation,” and USA TODAY reports that drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

There are lots of great reasons to go to a drive-in movie theater. Here are four reasons from the Indiana Insider Blog:

It’s a great place to take kids.

Taking young children to the movies can be a bit daunting. They have to be quiet, stay in their seat, and behave for a couple of hours. The drive-in is a great option because their chatter won’t disturb others. Some even have playgrounds.

It’s cheap.

Kids 5 and under are typically free, and even full price admission is usually less than the traditional theatre. Sometimes you’re even treated to a double feature for the price of one movie.

It’s improved.

The sound quality has improved a great deal over the last decade. The little speakers have mostly been replaced with FM stations you can tune in for sound.

For the nostalgia.

Back in the 50s, the drive-in was all the rage. While many have closed, you can keep the tradition alive by supporting those that remain with your spending dollars.

And for more nostalgia, the National Park Service highlights the 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri. “The 66 Drive-In in Carthage was part of that postwar wave and today is one of a very few historically intact drive-in theaters still operating along old Route 66. It looks and feels very much as it did when it opened for business in the fading light of September 22, 1949. A striking feature of the 66 Drive-In is that it still retains its original rural setting on a nine-acre plot about three miles outside of town.”


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Beth Tracton-Bishop, PhD, Director of Research and Gerontologist at The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, is responsible for developing and executing qualitative and quantitative research studies related to older driver safety, home design and family transitions, with a focus on translating research findings to consumer based information and public education campaigns.

She also leads the center’s social media strategy, and is the micro-blogger for


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