Drive-ins, like carhops at diners, disappointing evenings at “Makeout Point” and Cruise Ins are the last vestiges of a car-centric culture that sprung up in the ‘50s. The Sundance Kid Drive-in Theater, which opened in Oregon in 1956, is a part of that “cool car tradition” that has persisted, even in the age of “Netflix and chill.” Run by the Great Eastern Theater Group, which also runs the Maumee Indoor Theater, this venue shows newly released flicks, and should absolutely be a consideration for shaking up your summer evenings.
Great Eastern Theater Group President Jim Walter personally stands outside of the drive-in nightly, to guide cars into the appropriate ticket lane— and yet, people often don’t follow the process, Walters grumbles. Here are some key facts that you should know about this excellent NW Ohio institution:
Don’t bother trying to smuggle someone in the trunk
This is the oldest trick in the drive-in book. The ticket sellers know to look for a sagging suspension denoting more weight in the back than there probably ought to be. Walters tells a dynamite story about a group who tried to smuggle a girl into the drive-in in their car trunk. And then they broke the key off in the lock trying to get her out.
The Sundance Kid doesn’t ride alone
There are over 20 drive-in theaters in Ohio (as of 2013, we had 29), from the Sundance in Oregon out to Lancaster’s Skyview Drive-In. Pennsylvania has 30. But they have to live with being Pennsylvania, so it all balances out.
The “double feature” is still a thing
Double features are still the bread and butter of the Sundance Kid Drive-In. Every showing is a double feature, so for less than the price of a ticket at a boring old regular theater, you get two first-run flicks for $9.50 a person ($3 for kids). That’s about the best deal in town.
You’re gonna be there late
One of the hallmarks of a drive-in theater is that it has to be dark for you to see anything. And since dark comes late in the summer, so too do all screenings. With most films not starting until the back end of the 9 o’clock hour, the second feature usually doesn’t begin until 12:30am, or later. You’re getting out of there near 3am if you stay for the second show.
The people that know how to make the most of their drive-in experience come prepared. Ideally, you want to arrive in a truck or an SUV with a lot of trunk space. Back into a spot and open your trunk. Then, it’s a matter of laying down blankets or sleeping bags, or pulling out the lawn chairs and getting cozy.
Late arrivals REALLY suck
If you think it’s annoying to be immersed in a taut, opening scene when someone walks in with snacks and climbs across you in your theater seat, that goes double for the drive-in. That distracting latecomer is typically a souped-up truck with bright headlights and a dozen gravel-skidding attempts at parking. Chalk this up to the magic of the drive-in and deal with it.
Mosquitos will eat you alive
While you no longer have to affix a speaker to your car window (those went away about 20 years ago— the poles for them remain), you still roll down the window because it gets stifling, even at night. And while you play the audio through your car’s FM radio, you can’t leave the car running for hours with the AC going (Captain Planet will hate you). And that’s when the plentiful mosquitoes invade. Wear a repellent, get some sort of netting or tough it out, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Romance (still happens) by the dashboard light
“Sure, it happens,” Walter says when questioned if sex still happens at the drive-in. But they aren’t too concerned about policing it. “That’s one of the things people like about
drive-in movie theaters, they can have a beer, smoke a cigarette and they oftentimes do that (get it on). We don’t condone it and don’t allow it, but it still happens. Cars bounce.”
Call 419-691-9668 or check out the website for screenings and times. The Sundance Kid Drive-In is open daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Box office open at 8:30pm. $9.50/adult, $3/child aged 5-12, Free/children 4 and under.
4500 Navarre Ave., Oregon