Hop in your car and drive into a bygone era of cinema at one of these drive-in theatres.
Roll into an open car park and tune in for the evening show as a pink Californian sunset glows in the background. During this phase of “social distancing,” drive-in theatres around the US are seeing a rise in popularity, according to the Times. Audiences are finding the unexpected joy of simpler times as they seek ways to enjoy the outdoors.
Up until now, drive-in theatres had felt like fossils of the entertainment world. Almost like museums we could occasionally visit and imagine ourselves in a scene from Grease with John Travolta belting out a song in his leathers sporting a slicked-back quiff. Apart from that, regular audiences were lost to multiplex behemoths and their ever-embellishing comforts; a plethora of film choices, bed-like seats and an overwhelming array of candy.
However, like many of the experiences that truly mean something, our minds subconsciously take us back—even if we had to skip a few generations in the process. The resurgence of the drive-in theatre, amid the COVID pandemic, seems to conveniently offer us a sense of closeness without the need for contact. Although, you’re going to have to own a mobile quarantine box to participate.
Let’s rally in our cars and enjoy this retro revival together (but apart). Here is a list of open, at present, drive-in theatres in and around Los Angeles.
The multiscreen theatre reopened this week with a list of guidelines in place, which includes wearing a mask when visiting the bathrooms or snack bar, watching within your vehicle and ensuring there is one parking space between you and the next car. You’ll need an FM radio for the experience but there are ones to rent for $10 from the snack bar if you don’t have one.
Admission is $10 per person; $4 for ages 5-8; free for 4 and under.
📍443 Vineland Ave, City of Industry, CA 91746, United States
Paramount is a popular L.A. drive-in that features two screens showing current releases. Since reopening they have introduced a number of guidelines such as reducing capacity by 50% (so getting a ticket may be slightly competitive), only members of the same household can enter in a vehicle, customers must keep 9’ spacing between vehicles and all other CDC guidelines should be followed.
Admission is $10 per person; $3.50 for ages 5-8; free for 4 and under.
📍7770 Rosecrans Avenue, Paramount, CA 90723
It’s a 75-minute drive from L.A., but to be honest, a little road trip doesn’t sound so bad at this point. The historic drive-in theatre opens at 8 pm, showing the latest releases on multiple screens. Of course, there will be new health and safety measures in place which follow similar guidelines to those listed above. The restrooms and snack bar will be open but you will need to follow the rules outlined below.
Admission is $10 per person; $1 for ages 5-9; free for 4 and under.
📍3035 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, CA 92503, United
The restored drive-in lined with iconic palm trees and shows two films per ticket every day of the week. There is a snack bar, but you’re allowed to bring your own food and beverages in marijuana and alcohol are not permitted. FM radios are required and are not offered at the venue currently.
Admission is $9 for adults and $1 kids (children 5-9).
📍3770 Opal St, Riverside, CA 92509, United States
West Wind has a number of locations in California, but Santa Barbara is the closest one (about an hour and a half away). For your tickets, you’ll get a double feature and you’ll pay slightly less than many of the other theatres.
Admission is $8.75 per person ($5.75 on Tuesdays); $2 for ages 5-11 free for 4 and under.
📍907 S Kellogg Ave, Goleta, CA 93117
The tiki-themed theatre has managed to stay open throughout lockdown and welcomes guests to an outdoor cinema experience every night of the week. The theatre has four screens, showing two films a night. They show a mix of old and new releases in different genres, like Knives Out, Trolls World Tour as well as Groundhog Day. The guidelines are pretty much the same as Paramount and Vineland.
Admission is $10 per person; $1 for ages 5-9.
📍 10798 Ramona Ave, Montclair, CA 91763, United States
Electric Dusk Drive-In (to open in the fall)
The retro drive-in theatre is a local favorite, showing top films from the 80s, 90s and 00s. It’s situated close to Silver Lake and the Dodger Stadium making it much easier to get to than some of the others. However, they only plan to open in the fall, according to their website.
Admission is $10-$14 for advance tickets and $2 more per person on the day at the venue.
📍Van de Kamp Bakery Building 2930 Fletcher Drive &, N San Fernando Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90065, United States
Beyond entertainment, drive-ins could play a greater role in community gatherings during the pandemic period. While food and restrooms risks would need to be addressed—such as ticketing systems via sms— there are also opportunities for sermons, live music concerts and talks to take place by tuning into the radio. Or even collaborations with cinemas with licenses to offer a wider range of films.
Featured Image: Paramount Drive-In