We don’t typically head to the theater. When you add up the cost of tickets for all of us, and throw some popcorn in there, I’m sure you’ll understand why! I’m pretty sure Chicken Little was the last movie we went to as a family, and that was when we were living in San Diego and Jayme was an only child! (Oh the memories!)
But, back to my post, an ad in the newspaper caught my eye a couple weeks ago. The local drive-in theater was airing Finding Dory followed by The BFG.
Both were movies I knew the kids would enjoy. Honestly, both were movies I wanted to see! The price was nice too. Most of the family could get in for $24. That’s a really low price per movie!
So Bryan and I chatted about it, and we decided he’d stay home with Owen and the rest of the kids and I would catch the Friday night airing. I was a bit nervous. After all, the box office didn’t open until 8:45 PM. That’s way past bedtime around here!
I was a little worried about driving that late at night. We’re over an hour away from the theater!
We decided to give it a go anyways, and I’m glad we did. Here are some things I learned about tackling a drive-in theater with kids:
Plan on Waiting in Line
We got to the theater at 8:45, when the box office opened. The line wrapped all the way out onto the highway. We sat in line, slowly creeping up for an hour. Yikes!
Next time I’ll be better prepared for this, and bring some fun activities for the car. As it was, we enjoyed a few car games to pass the time!
The Movie Starts at Dark
The actual start time varies depending on the time of year. The showing we picked was late. It didn’t start airing until a few minutes before 10:00. That’s really late!
I think if we go again we’ll hit a showing either earlier or later in the season to bump that start time up a bit.
Bring Your Snacks
If your drive-in theater allows you to bring in your own snacks, do it. We popped plenty of popcorn, packed some candy, and brought along water bottles. The kids each had their own bag and snacked as they pleased. It was quite fun.
If you can’t bring snacks, I did discover that the snack bar was way lower priced than a traditional theater.
Go to the Bathroom During the Movie
Yes, you’ll miss a few minutes. But you’ll avoid the line that wraps all the way around the building. That’s a good trade off in my opinion!
Besides, thanks to rolled down windows and plenty of cars, combined with the large screen, we were able to hear the movie so we didn’t really miss a lot.
Turn on Your Car Between Features
This was a tip for my husband, and after seeing other cars at the theater needing a jump, I’m thankful he told me! Listening to the radio without the car being on drains the battery. In order to give it a little boost, you need to run your car between the movies.
The kids fell asleep. As they were dozing, they were cold. Blankets were so handy. They each wrapped up and felt cozier.
Leave When You Need To
We parked in the back. Mainly because we sat in line for over an hour before getting there. But, it worked out really well.
After the first movie, the kids started nodding off. Jayme, Simon, and I were awake at the start of the second, but we slowly started falling asleep.
I knew that if I waited much longer I might not make it all the way home so we decided to leave. There was about 1/2 an hour left in the second movie when we pulled out.
Yes, it was a bad spot to leave in–the queen was just having her nightmare from the BFG. I wanted to see how it ended. But I knew I had a long drive.
So we’ll catch the movie again when it comes out on DVD.
What Would I Do Differently?
Next time I may just plan on leaving after the first movie. The drive home was long! I may bring some hot cocoa or something similar next time and leave it in an insulated mug to stay warm for the drive home. The caffeine would have perked me up a bit.
Bring the Bus
We talked about bringing the bus. But we didn’t know how it’d work out. Next time I think we will. There were a couple of motor homes there. And we can all go if we take the bus. Having another adult would have made the drive home much easier!
An External Radio Would Help
Our car radio played for about 25 minutes before the car needed restarting. We had to restart it a lot. An external radio would prevent us from losing sound so often. If we head back again, we’ll probably invest in one!
Have you been to a drive-in theater with kids?
What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! Do you even have a drive-in theater nearby? I know there definitely aren’t as many as there used to be.