The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways of life for so many people. What you might have spent your Friday nights doing before the pandemic might be very different than what you enjoy doing now. However, drive-in movie enthusiasts didn't have to change their Friday night plans as these theaters were able to support social distancing efforts. Drive-in movies, while they aren't as popular as they used to be, continue to be a fun date night option for couples or an exciting hang out for groups of friends.


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Whether you are a drive-in theater newbie or an avid moviegoer, it is always nice to take a look at the history of things to see how the idea came about and how it has changed over time.

The first patented drive-in theater was opened on June 6, 1933, by a man named Richard Hollingshead in Camden, New Jersey. The drive-in theater was originally created for those who couldn't comfortably fit into the small seats at a traditional theater. Hollingshead thought about his mother. He wanted to allow her to enjoy movies that were playing in the theater in a way that was more comfortable for her. Then he took his two passions, movies and cars, and combined them to create a drive-in movie theater. His invention quickly became popular as it was seen as the perfect movie viewing option for families.

Hollingshead created his own theater and it became so popular that more and more drive-in theaters popped up all over the United States. Then in the '50s and '60s, the popularity of these theaters exploded. Everyone wanted to go to a drive-in movie as a romantic date, a fun night out with friends, or even a time to bond with family. At this point, there were a little more than 4,000 drive-in theaters all over the country!

What Happened To The Drive-In Movie Industry

Over time, the drive-in movie industry began to slowly die. They had seasonal popularity as the movies were best enjoyed in the summer months due to the warmer weather. This caused drive-in movies to slowly be forgotten. Then in the '70s, the oil crisis caused people to downsize their cars in hopes of reducing their gas consumption.  These smaller cars were less comfortable at the drive-in theaters, causing a steady decline in ticket sales. Later, with the invention and rise in popularity of the VCR, people could view movies in their own homes, just finishing off the drive-in theater until it was practically dead.

Today, there are only about 400 drive-in theaters still operating in the United States. States like Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania have the most drive-ins in operation while other states such as Hawaii, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware, and Louisiana have none left.

How To Take Care Of Your Car During A Drive-In Movie

If you are planning on supporting the drive-in movie industry, there are a few things you will need to know to take care of your car. The trick to a good experience at the drive-in theater is to make you and your car comfortable during the film.

Going to a drive-in movie could ruin your car battery if you don't take care of it properly. It is important to stay informed on how to care for your car battery, and as expert mobile mechanics, we are here to give you the information you need to have a long-lasting car battery.

To answer the question, "Will drive-in movies kill my car's battery?" The answer is: Maybe. If you leave your car on, it will be using the battery's power supply. If you aren't driving your car, the alternator won't be recharging the battery, thus causing it to die. This also goes for any accessories in your car such as the radio, headlights, interior lights, charging ports, and more.

Luckily for you, there are a few things you can do to protect your car battery at a drive-in theater. Here are some tips to protect your car battery at a drive-in theater:

  • Ensure that your ignition is turned all the way off
    If you accidentally forget to turn off your ignition, you might end up with a dead battery. We suggest you double-check that your ignition is switched off just in case!
  • Turn off your lights
    To be respectful of those around you and to protect your car battery, you will want to ensure that all of your lights are turned off. This includes your headlights, taillights, and interior lights. Using any sort of power in your car could cause you to end up with a dead battery at the end of the night.
  • Eliminate all other accessories
    Just like your lights, you want to turn off ALL other accessories. Make sure your radio is turned off and you don't have anything plugged into your car's outlets or cigarette lighters. After a few hours, accessories can use a surprising amount of power and leave you with a car that won't start.
  • Make sure your battery is in good health
    Overtime you will need to get your battery replaced. Once you have had your battery for about three years, the odds of it causing problems increases dramatically. A typical car battery will last anywhere from three to five years, but there are plenty of ways that you can take care of your battery to get it to last a bit longer.
  • Use a battery-powered radio
    Some drive-in movie theaters broadcast the sound of the movie through FM frequency. Rather than turning on your car and wasting your battery's power supply, consider purchasing a battery-powered radio to listen to the audio of the film. If you do this, don't forget to pack extra batteries in case your radio dies!
  • Prepare for the worse-case scenario
    If worse comes to worst, you will want to have a backup plan. If your battery dies and your car won't start when you are trying to leave the drive-in theater, you will need some battery cables to jumpstart your car. We have a previously written blog post that goes through step-by-step how to jumpstart your car. If you are interested in learning more, click here!

Common Questions From Newbie Drive-In Movie Goers

While we have given some general tips, you might still have a couple of questions about your drive-in movie experience. Since these theaters aren't as common as they used to be, you might not know where to get the answers to your questions. Here are a few of the common questions asked by newbie drive-in moviegoers!

Should I Keep My Car On Or Off?
Typically you want to keep your car turned off during the movie. However, there are some situations where it might be okay to keep your car on during the movie. When you arrive at your drive-in theater, take a look at the other cars around you. If other cars are turned on, then you can keep your car turned on. Some people want their cars on to use the heating or cooling systems, but if you don't need your car turned on, we recommend keeping it off.

What Is The Best Kind Of Car For Drive-In Movies?
Many different setups can provide you with a comfortable viewing experience. Whether you are laying down in the back of a pickup truck or sitting in the trunk of your car, you can enjoy the film with a few friends or family members. When it comes to drive-in movies, the size of your car does matter. It is important to opt for a more spacious vehicle so you can comfortably fit all of your friends.

If you are looking for a pickup truck, the Ram 1500 is a great option. While almost any pickup truck will do, the Ram 1500 has some cool features. Most notably is the RamBox. The RamBox is a toolbox located on the side rails of the bed of the truck. While it is meant for tools, this can act as a great snack and drink storage system so you and your friends can simply reach over and help yourselves during the movie. The Honda Ridgeline is another great option as the bed of the truck can be used as a speaker. This means that you will be surrounded by the audio if you choose to use your car radio to listen to the movie.

Another option is to use a convertible for your viewing experience. This way you can sit in the seats of your car and still enjoy the fresh air. You will even be able to watch the stars throughout the movie! We recommend the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible for the most comfortable experience. Since this is a smaller vehicle, it is better suited for a date night rather than a fun family excursion.

If you are looking to stow your rear seats and throw some pillows and blankets down, the Chrysler Pacifica is another great vehicle for drive-in movies. The Chrysler Pacifica is a huge, spacious vehicle that, when the rear seats are stowed, can create the perfect movie-watching environment. There are even plenty of cup holders and storage spaces in the back for your snacks and refreshments!

Don't have one of the options we listed above? Any car will do! As long as you aren't taking a tiny smart car to the drive-in theater, we are sure you will have a comfortable experience no matter what vehicle you choose to bring.

Can I Listen To The Drive-In Movie On My Cell Phone?
Most drive-in theaters broadcast their audio through an FM frequency. Because of this, you won't be able to use your cell phone. As cool as it would be, cell phones don't come with the ability to listen to radio frequencies.

Where Can I Find A Drive-In Theater Near Me?
Drive-in movie theaters used to be in every single state. Due to the decline in the popularity of ticket sales and increasing prices of land, many drive-in theaters were forced to close down. With that said, there are still around 400 drive-in theaters in the U.S. A quick google search will help you find one in or near your state. New York is home to the most active drive-in theaters with a total of 28 different locations. That means you might not have to travel far to find a drive-in theater near you! Florida has the cheapest tickets for drive-in theaters, making the experience very affordable for all. Some states like Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Texas have newly opened drive-in theaters. These three states have opened a total of about 30 new theaters since the '90s.

Got more questions? Reach out to a drive-in theater near you for more detailed information about the experience you will be having!

Booking An Appointment With A Mobile Mechanic

If worse comes to worst and you find yourself dealing with a broken-down car, don't worry because Wrench is here to help! We have mobile mechanics all over the United States in areas such as Seattle, Nashville, San Diego, Raleigh, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Memphis, Kansas City, and more.

To book an auto repair or maintenance appointment with us, visit the homepage of our website, download our mobile app, or contact our friendly customer service team. We will need to gather a little background information so we can get your appointment set up and order the correct parts. The first thing we will need to know is what kind of vehicle you own. To determine this, we will need the color, year, make, and model as well as any other details. You will be expected to provide unique information such as your car's VIN and license plate number.

Then we will need to know what service you need. If you are looking to get your car maintained before your trip to the drive-in theater, you can request whatever maintenance services you need. If you are dealing with a dead car battery after your night of fun, we can come to replace your battery as well! Just let us know what you need. If you are unsure what service to request, you can book a diagnostic appointment and our mobile mechanic will figure out exactly what your car needs.

After that, we will provide you with an affordable auto repair quote and you will be able to choose when and where you want your service performed. Any date, time, and address that works best for you will work for us. In no time, your vehicle will be back and ready to take your friends and family to the next blockbuster at the drive-in theater! Book your appointment with Wrench today!


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