During the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, drive-in theaters were located throughout most of San Diego County. However, over the past few decades, many of these open-air cinemas have made way for strip-malls, apartment complexes, and swap-meets. Happily, with the recent addition of the first new drive-in in the county, since 1966, movie goers are experiencing a revival of this nostalgic summer past-time. The following is a guide to three local theaters that treat viewers to a delightful taste of yesteryear.
The Full Moon Drive-in Theater:
San Diego Unified School District’s, Pacific Beach Middle School partnered in 2012 with Full Moon to create a weekly classic-style drive-in to help raise funds for education. The theater which is set-up Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, exudes the flavor and ambiance of a 1950s drive-in. Movie-goers suggest films to be shown through Twitter and Facebook. In addition to classic movies, live performances, food service (directly to the car), and an outdoor viewing area adds to the guests’ enjoyment.
The South Bay Drive-in Theater:
This traditional drive-in first opened in South bay in 1958. Open year-round, the theater only accepts cash. Double-features on three separate screens appeal to a wide range of audiences. SB Drive-In is reasonable priced and many movies are suitable for family entertainment. A variety of refreshments and Mexican food are available at the snack bar, and the drive-in offers coupons, weekly swap-meets, and special events.
The Santee Drive-In Theater:
Santee Drive-In, located in East SD, provides nightly features 365 days each year. Cash-only adult admission is currently $8.00 per ticket, and children between five and twelve years are admitted for $4.00 each. (Children under four are free.) Movies are displayed nightly on two separate screens in digital format. The audio is broadcast over the car radio, on theater specific FM stations. Tickets may be pre-ordered online (printed out with a legible bar-code showing). Or, if still available, they can be purchased an hour before showings begin at the drive-in.
All three theaters recommend arriving up to an hour early to get the best spaces. Larger vehicles and SUVs need to park in the back rows. In the Full Moon Theater, 1950s and 1960s classic cars receive the additional privilege of parking in the front row, although the gates close once the movies begin. So come on out and enjoy this slice of ‘American Pie’ in PB, South Bay, and East County San Diego!