Growing up in rural Oklahoma, some of my favorite memories include nights spent at the drive-in movies. I remember going to the movies in my pajamas and falling asleep in the back seat of the car halfway through the feature film as a little girl. I remember piling nearly a dozen people into my dad’s pickup truck and going to the movies on $5 carload night as a teenager. The drive-in theater was the social hub of our community all summer long for more than 50 years, until it eventually closed like most of the other drive ins across America.
For those who long for a bit of nostalgia and a fun summer night, there are still a few drive-in theaters left in Oklahoma. I have been to two of them, the Winchester and the Admiral Twin, which was one of the locations in which the iconic film, “The Outsiders,” was filmed. Both of these theaters weathered disasters and rose again, thanks to the support of the communities that love them. I’m glad, because they preserve a part of our history I’d hate to lose. I hope to visit the other drive-ins in Oklahoma someday, too.
Admiral Twin Drive-In
The Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa, Oklahoma was built in 1951 as a single screen theater, which became a twin theater not long after. It was destroyed by fire in 2010, but was rebuilt, thanks in part to a grassroots effort by Oklahomans to save the theater. The Admiral Twin has a double feature on each of its two screens, beginning around dark. Actual start times vary as the summer progresses, so check the website for listings. Admission as of this writing is $7 for visitors ages 12 and up, and $3 for kids ages 3 to 11.
Oklahoma City’s Winchester Drive-In has been a favorite destination for fun since 1968. This single screen theater just north of I-240 on S. Western Ave. is the only drive-in left in Oklahoma City, and its future looked bleak when the projection booth was nearly destroyed in the massive May 31 tornado that rocked much of the metro in 2013. Thanks in part to support from the community, the Winchester Drive-In opened again in the fall, and looks forward to a great 2014. Admission as of this writing is $6 for ages 11 and up, and $3 for ages 3 to 10.
The Beacon Drive-In in Guthrie, Oklahoma has been open since 1950, and was the drive-in featured in the movie, “Twister.” This single screen theater shows just one movie each night, and only takes cash, but it’s location outside the hustle and bustle of the Oklahoma City metro makes for a relaxing trip down memory lane. Admission is $7 for ages 12 and up, and $3 for kids ages 3 to 11.
With a full service snack bar including not just popcorn and drinks, but grilled burgers and chili cheese fries, visitors show up early to the Tower Drive-In in Poteau, Oklahoma. This single screen theater with digital projection shows double features on the weekends, and single features during the week. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for kids.
At the Chief Drive-In in Chickasha, Oklahoma, you can order a whole pizza for just $11, eat Dippin Dots ice cream and play a round of miniature golf before the show, and then settle down to enjoy a double feature in new digital projection. Admission is $7 for ages 12 and up, and $5 for kids ages 3 to 11, with a small upcharge for those paying with a card. Cash only at the box office on Friday and Saturday nights.
Is it an RV park, a restaurant, a drive-in theater? Guymon, Oklahoma’s Corral Drive-In is all of that and more. Opening this year for its sixth season, the Corral is a beloved part of the small town community nestled in the Oklahoma panhandle. With digital projection, fresh, made to order pizzas and a double feature starting at dusk, the Corral provides some of the best in western Oklahoma’s summer entertainment. Admission is $6 for ages 12 and up, and $4 for ages 4 to 11.
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