7 tips for enjoying movies under the stars

Ari Davis
The drive-in movie theater on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City is one of many drive-in theaters in Utah. (Ari Davis)

Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback. Whether you are with your family, friends or a date, a trip to the drive-in can be a fun way to enjoy a movie in a non-traditional way.

Here are seven tips to keep in mind for a magical drive-in theater experience:

Enjoy the atmosphere

Going to a drive-in allows you to be outside in your own little, private space and still enjoy a movie featured in traditional theaters. The sound may not be as good as it would be in a theater, but the fact that you get to watch a movie under the stars makes it special.

“It’s really an atmosphere thing,” said BYU student and drive-in theater fan Samantha Nebeker. “I love sitting on the hood of my car with a blanket and a tub of cookie dough, so it’s kind of like a movie night at home but with a massive screen.”

Get there early

You have to buy a ticket before you can park your car and enjoy the movie.

BYU student Justin Boswell, an elementary education major, has been to the Redwood Drive-In Theatre in West Valley City and said it can take a while to get your ticket.

“You have to get there pretty early if you want to see the beginning of the movie because of how long the line was to get in,” Boswell said.

Getting there early also gives you time to get snacks and get situated before the movie starts.

Think about the sound

The sound for drive-in movies is fed through an FM transmitter, which means you need a radio to hear everything. Whether you choose to sit inside or outside your car, it’s important to think about how you’ll listen to the movie, Nebeker said.

“If you are sitting outside your car, make sure your car speakers will reach you, or just bring your own radio,” Nebeker said.

Make your seating comfortable

A lot people choose to sit outside, either on the hood of their car or in the back of their truck. Make sure to bring blankets and pillows for maximum comfort. You can also bring lawn or camping chairs to sit in as long as you keep them in your parking space.

Bring or buy snacks

Snacks are pretty much essential when watching a movie, so make sure you are prepared. Most drive-in theaters allow you to bring in snacks, but consider buying snacks at the venue to help support the drive-in instead. Snack bars are the most valuable profit source at outdoor theaters according to Brent Coleman, owner of Coleman’s Motor Vu Drive-In & Swap Meet in Riverdale.

“Our snack bars are, in most cases, much cheaper than walk-in theaters and sell the same high-quality items,” Coleman said. “We hope that most patrons will always give our snack bars a try to help us stay alive and well.”

Don’t try to be sneaky

You often buy your ticket in your car, but that doesn’t mean one ticket covers everyone inside your vehicle — each person must buy a ticket. Don’t try to hide people in the trunk or sneak them in. At the Redwood Drive-In Theatre, tickets are $9 for adults and $1 for kids for a double feature.

Be Courteous

Drive-ins allow you more freedom to enjoy the company around you instead of being silent, but be aware there are still others trying to watch a movie. Don’t be obnoxious and loud. If you have kids, make sure you keep them from disturbing the other patrons. Also, if you’re on a date, remember there are families around, so keep things appropriate. Think of “Grease” and be a little more like Sandy and a little less like Danny. You don’t want to get kicked out.

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