Big Screen Blast: 8 Tips to Create Your Ultimate Drive-In Movie Experience

If you ever got the chance to see a movie with your family and friends while enjoying the great outdoors, eating delicious homemade snacks, all at a reasonable price from the comfort of your vehicle, would you try it? Going to a drive-in movie with friends or family is one of the most fun things you can do in your car. Here's what to know before heading to the theater.

One Of Our Favorite Summertime Activities Is Catching A Flick At A Drive-In Movie. Photo By Leah Peragine On Unsplash
One of our favorite summertime activities is catching a flick at a drive-in movie. Photo by Leah Peragine on Unsplash

Fun in your car: How to have the best drive-in movie experience

Drive-in movies are a blast from the past that are making a comeback. A chance to see a movie with your family and friends, enjoy the outdoors, and choose an activity that’s easy on the budget? What’s not to like? Since a trip to the drive-in movie theater requires a little more preparation than rolling up to the mall movie theater, here are 8 tips that will help you have the best drive-in movie experience.

Related: There’s plenty of fun to be had on a car trip with the kids

Be Sure To Check The Weather Forecast Before You Head To The Drive-In Movie Theater.

Be sure to check the weather forecast before you head to the drive-in movie theater. Photo: Jona on Unsplash

1. Check the weather and know your theater’s raincheck policy

Unlike seeing a movie indoors, bad weather will tank your drive-in movie adventure. While rain can pop up unexpectedly, check the forecast, and don’t plan to visit the drive-in movie theater when you see bad weather on the radar.

But what if you buy advance tickets and it’s raining the night you plan to visit the drive-in? Or, what if it starts pouring during the middle of a show? Check your theater’s raincheck policy so you’ll know the scoop if the weather puts a literal damper on your fun.

When The Weather Is Temperate, It'S A Pleasure To Watch A Movie From Your Car.

When the weather is temperate, it’s a pleasure to watch a movie from your car. Photo: Elijah O’Donnell on Pexels

2. Dress for the weather

Check the weather forecast to see what the nighttime temperatures will be. Even if it has been a hot day, the weather will be cooler after sundown. Make sure everyone has a sweater, hoodie, or light jacket.

Otherwise, wear cozy clothes in which you’re comfortable watching movies in. You also might consider dressing younger kids in their pajamas before you head out to the theater, since they will probably be asleep by the time you’re ready to leave.

Thanks To Modern Technology You Can Ourchase Your Tickets Ahead Of Time For Your Drive-In Movie Adventure.

Use modern technology to purchase your tickets ahead of time for your drive-in movie adventure. Photo: Charlie Deets for Unsplash

3. Buy tickets early

Every theater has different policies and procedures on ticket sales but if you can buy advance tickets, do. This will ensure you don’t get turned away due to the drive-in being at capacity. Also, make sure you get there early, especially if you’re seeing a popular or new movie. There will most likely be a line to get in so don’t miss the movie because you’re cutting it too close.

Going To The Drive-In Means You Can Pack Some Epic Snacks From Home.

Going to the drive-in means you can bring some epic snacks from home. Photo: Oliur at Unsplash

4. Pack snacks (if your theater allows outside food)

I remember my mom popping popcorn on top of the stove and pouring it into a brown paper bag. We’d pack a cooler full of grocery store brand canned sodas and voila – our budget drive-in movie snacks.

You can pack whatever type of snacks you enjoy, from a gourmet picnic or charcuterie board to pizza you pick up on the way to the theater, to boxes of your favorite movie theater candy. Your mileage will vary but most drive-in movie theaters prohibit alcohol, so make sure you’re following the rules.

Also, make sure your theater allows outside food before you load up on DIY snacks. Some prohibit bringing in your own food or apply a surcharge so you’ll use the onsite concession stand.

Gone Are The Days Of Clunky Speakers Hanging On Your Window.

Gone are the days of clunky speakers hanging on your window. Photo: Robert Linder on Unsplash

5. Don’t drain your battery, pack a portable Radio

Drive-ins use FM radio frequencies for movie sounds. If you leave your car on to tune into the radio for an extended period of time, you might run your battery down. Another solution is to download a radio app but this might mean a dead phone battery or reduced sound quality.

While you should download a radio app as a backup, bringing a portable radio means better sound quality and not having to worry about draining your car battery. Make sure you test your batteries before you go and bring spares.

Sedans Are Fine, But If You Drive An Escalade You Should Call Ahead To See About Vehicle Size Restrictions.

Sedans are ok, but if you drive an Escalade, call ahead to see about vehicle size restrictions. Photo: Maximilian Kopsch on Unsplash

6. Know before you go: Restrictions on larger vehicles

If you drive a full-size pickup or a larger SUV, such as an Escalade or Yukon, check to see if your theater has a policy for larger vehicles. Often, trucks and other large vehicles have designated parking areas so they don’t obstruct the views of people in smaller cars.

Bring A Tablet Just In Case The Kids Get Bored.

Bring a tablet just in case the kids get bored. Photo: Jim Strasma on Unsplash

7. Pack electronic entertainment for the kids

You’re probably saying “What?! It’s family time!” And, like most people, your idea of quality family time probably doesn’t involve kids glued to their tablets. That said, if kids get bored with the movie or if the second feature is more adult-focused or scary, letting them pop their headphones on and watch something else might keep the peace and make sure everyone has a good time.

We Love Making Memories At The Drive-In.

We love making memories with friends and family at the drive-in. Photo: Chase Yi on Unsplash

8. Other things to take with you

  • Insect repellant – Summer nights can be buggy
  • Pillows and blankets. Make a comfy movie-watching pod in the back of your car or truck bed.
  • Jumper cables, just in case.
  • Chairs or loungers, in case you want to sit outside your car and enjoy the movie.
  • Something to do before it gets dark. Pack a frisbee or Nerf football or a card game.
  • Money for the concession stands, just in case they don’t take cards or digital payments.

Out of all the things you can do in your car with your family, going to a drive-in movie is one of the most fun. Grab your favorite people, your favorite snacks, load up your car, and go!

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Jill is the oldest mom with the youngest kids pretty much everywhere she goes. She has a 29-year-old daughter... More about Jill Robbins