Are drive-in theaters a by-gone thing from the penny loafers and bobbie socks days? The 50s may have been the heyday for drive-ins, but the United Drive-in Theaters Association says many across the country are flourishing, multi-generational and innovative in marketing to people who are used to on-demand entertainment.
What follows is a guide to three long-established drive-in theaters in Western New York, including who runs them, what they offer and features that are unique to the businesses that have been proudly operated for decades.
North of Buffalo
6655 S. Transit Road (Route 75)
Friday-Sunday, “rain or starlight”
Free Wi-Fi access
$9 per person 12 and up
$4 ages 5-11
Under 4 free
Acquired in 1957 by Irving and Mary Cohen as part of a flourishing, family-owned theater and drive-in empire, the Transit is the largest in New York State, boasting 4 screens, each playing separate double features. Sound comes through FM stereo broadcast. Shows are cancelled only for fog, and leashed pets are welcome. Special features include:
- 8 movies playing nightly
- “The Greens Under the Screen” miniature golf
- 1950’s marquee
- Snack stand with a wide variety of carryout food, beverages and snacks
- abundant parking as admissions usually number around 1,000 per night
Three generations of Cohens run this drive-in theater which enforces a family-oriented code of conduct and is entirely smoke free.
Loomis’s Delevan Drive-in
Southeast of Buffalo
Delevan, NY 14042
Open 7 days a week in any weather
Friday and Saturdays are family days with 5-person cars paying $20
Regular admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children 4 to 12, and 3 and under, free.
This drive-in is also family-owned and operated, having a 500-car capacity. The website outlines an extensive code of conduct including:
- no cooking or grilling
- vans and trucks park in the back row
- no obscenities
- no laser pointers
The Delevan Drive-in has a concession stand, playground, and FM broadcast. The Loomis family also rents a “Kids Express” train for private parties off-site.
Silver Lake Twin Drive-in/Charcoal Corral
7037 Chapman Drive
Adults are $8.
Children under 10 are $3.
Jake Stefanon purchased the run-down Silver Lake Drive-in in 1966 and envisioned something more than just movies on the former 13-acre cow pasture. Step by step, he added these attractions to bring in the current weekend crowds of 2,000 people a night:
- miniature golf
- giant inflatables
- pizza and ice cream parlors
- Charcoal Corral, a family-style restaurant
- birthday parties and catering
- regular special events such Southwest BBQ Night
Perry town officials have called the Stefanon establishments “a gold mine.”
All of these Western New York drive-in theaters show movies. Beyond that they share a desire to keep tradition, family fun and value going in iconic businesses that are becoming more scarce.