Here’s How Drive-Ins Are Planning to Make Their Comeback

By Rosunnara Roth
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Photo Courtesy: J. R. Eyerman/Life Magazine/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Getting tired of Netflix? Escaping the house is still complicated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some businesses have a creative idea that can help people finally have a night out: drive-ins. Outdoor movie venues may not stay part of the past anymore; they’re the answer for the future. With theaters and concert venues closed, drive-ins have been reopening and popping up everywhere, including dining locations. Some places have even upgraded the cinema experience, and the venues are used for more than watching flicks; concerts are hosted there too. What will they come up with next?

Social distancing doesn’t have to be boring, and you can still go out with friends. Say goodbye to your couch and say hello to fun at the drive-in. Here’s how drive-ins are planning to make their comeback.


Drive-In Theaters Have New Tricks Up Their Sleeves

For some movie lovers, the old-fashioned drive-in experience just doesn’t cut it anymore, even when they’re desperate. This is where the brand-new experience comes in. Several places offer movies and a view, which makes it hard to pass on. For instance, Skyline Drive-In NYC provides patrons a movie with the lovely Manhattan skyline in the backdrop. This isn’t your regular NY skyline either; it’s a popular filming location for well-known companies like SNL and Converse.

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Photo Courtesy: Skyline Drive-In NYC

When it comes to food, some drive-in businesses offer fancy food trucks and onsite culinary options. At Lefty’s Alley and Eats, you can order crab wontons or bruschetta as an appetizer and move on to an entree like roasted frenched chicken breast or a crab cake sando.

Some aspects of the outdoor cinema experience are still the same, but there are some subtle changes. Many drive-ins have modified their ticket purchasing process, requiring all tickets to be purchased online through the company’s website or Facebook page. However, you have to be quick because tickets are in hot demand and can sell out in minutes.

One problem business owners face for the time being is showing new movies. Without the permission of movie studios, drive-ins can’t show the latest flicks. If you go to a drive-in, expect popular older films like Jurassic Park, Grease and Dirty Dancing. The most recent movies that have been played are Crazy Rich Asians, Coco and Mary Poppins Returns.

Welcome to Drive-In Concerts

For those who are sick of social media live concerts, businesses have found an innovative solution to your problem: drive-in concerts. Germany has hosted a few drive-in rave concerts, which came with all the works — DJ performances, lasers, smoke, special effects and dancers (wearing masks). Although people can’t get out of their cars, they can party in them and honk to the music.

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Photo Courtesy: Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance/Getty Images

In the U.S., many artists are hosting small drive-in shows. One of the most popular stars to jump on this trend is country singer Keith Urban, who surprised fans in Tennessee with a spontaneous drive-in concert. That’s not all — the singer dedicated the show to front-line medical workers.

How Are Drive-Ins Keeping Customers Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Besides requiring online ticket sales, business owners implement other safety and social distancing measures so everyone can enjoy the entertainment. Many drive-ins have the same set of regulations, such as requiring patrons to stay in their cars, except to use the restroom. If you leave your car, you must wear a face mask. Each car must be parked 10 to 20 feet away from each other. Some venues stagger car spots, so everyone can easily view the movie screen or performance. Also, only a certain number of people are allowed in the restroom at any time. Of course, you can expect a few troublemakers who don’t want to follow the new rules. You can also expect those customers to be kicked out.

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Photo Courtesy: Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto/Getty Images

If you’re wondering about food and drinks, many venues try to keep the experience contact-free to give both customers and workers peace of mind during the pandemic. Businesses even encourage patrons to bring their own snacks and beverages. However, those who want food at the drive-ins can order food online for contact-less car delivery or pick up. For instance, food trucks at Miami’s Carflix Cinemas deliver food to customers’ vehicles while they watch outdoor movies. Houston’s Rooftop Cinema Club allows customers to pre-order food and drinks online for onsite pickup.

Thanks to drive-ins, people have the chance to leave their homes and have some fun together (while still apart). How’s that for some movie magic?