By Alicia Dziak
There’s nothing quite like catching your favorite flick under the stars. Whether in your vehicle or in a lawn chair, movies under the stars are an experience like no other.
According to www.history.com, the first drive-in movie theater opened in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey, although initially referred to as a different name. The website states that, “the term ‘drive-in’ came to be widely used only later–was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father’s company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden. Reportedly inspired by his mother’s struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, and devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen. The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000.
The idea caught on, and after Hollingshead’s patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country, reaching their heyday in the late 1950s to mid-60s, with some 5,000 theaters across the country.
Over the years, several factors have contributed to the decline in drive-in theaters and today, fewer than 500 of them remain in the United States. So, the fact that there are four of them located within an hour’s drive of Springville is quite impressive. Nostalgia awaits!
Head to the nearby Delevan Twin Drive In, at 11771 Route 16 in Delevan, and take in a movie double header. Prices are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for kids ages 4-12 and free for 3 and under. For more info, visit www.facebook.com/DelevanDrive/.
The Silver Lake Twin Drive-In, located at 7037 Chapman Avenue in Perry (near Letchworth State Park) is open every day, rain or shine. Tickets are $8 for adults (ages 11 and older), $5 for children (ages 4-10) and free for children under the age of 3. Ticket office opens at 6 p.m., get there early to enjoy a round of miniature golf and some food from the Charcoal Corral. For more information, visit www.charcoalcorral.com.
The Portville Drive-In located at1060 Olean-Portville Rd., Portville is open on all week rain or shine. Tickets are $7 for adults (ages 12 and older) and $2 for children (ages 11 and under.) The ticket office opens at 7:30 p.m. This drive-in is nestled in the countryside of Cattaraugus County and hosts two movie screens, including one of the largest in New York State and a snack bar filled with goodies. For more information visit www.portvilledrivein.com.
The Transit Drive-In located at 6655 South Transit Road in Lockport shows movies on four different screens every night of the week rain or shine. Tickets are $9 for adults (ages 12 and older), $4 children (ages 5-11) and free for children under 4 years of age. The ticket office opens at 7 p.m. during the week and at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. You will want to get there early (and enjoy a round at their miniature golf course) to avoid the long lines closer to movie time. Midnight movie tickets are available 30 minutes before show time and are only $6.
In addition to new blockbuster movies, the Transit Drive-In hosts the very popular Retro Movie Tuesday series (schedule below). Proceeds from the above retro double feature benefit the Toys For Tots Foundation. July 24: A Christmas Story/Elf
July 31: The Wizard of Oz/Twister
Aug. 7: Grease/Dirty Dancing
Aug. 14: The Lost Boys/The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Aug. 21: Stand By Me/The Outsiders
Aug. 28: The Blues Brothers/Animal House
For more information visit www.transitdrivein.com.
If sprawling out on a picnic blanket or in your favorite camping chair is more your style, there are plenty of other free opportunities to catch an outdoor movie this summer.
Check out Buffalo Harbor Movies Under the Stars located at 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd. in Buffalo for a free family-friendly movie every Wednesday evening. Schedule is as follows:
July 25: Inside Out
Aug. 1: Dennis the Menace
Aug. 8: Minions
Aug. 15: Aliens in the Attic
Aug. 22: Moana
Aug. 29: Megamind
No summer is complete without a visit to Canalside Buffalo. Check out their free movie series on Tuesday nights. Schedule is as follows:
July 24: Elf
July 31: The Lego Ninjago Movie
Aug. 7: Coco
Aug. 14: The Wizard of Oz
Aug. 21: The Greatest Showman
Aug. 28: Boss Baby
Closer to home you can find free family-friendly Movies in the Park at East Aurora’s Hamlin Park, located at 166 South Grove Street in East Aurora.
July 20: Moana
July 27: Despicable Me 3
Aug. 3: Ferdinand
Aug. 10: Lego Batman Movie
Aug. 17: Sing
Aug. 24: Cars 3
Aug. 31: Wonder
Head to Chestnut Ridge Park at 6121 Chestnut Ridge Rd. in Orchard Park on Aug. 25 and catch Shrek at the Chestnut Ridge Park Casino.