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Throwback Thursday: Celebrating 80 years of the drive-in movie theater

Drive-in movieToday is the 80th anniversary of the first movie showing at a drive-in theater! Last year, a fun animated Google Doodle was dedicated to drive-ins. We thought we’d celebrate this year’s anniversary by posing some trivia questions and highlighting some of the drive-in theaters we are fortunate enough to still have in our area.

First order of business: trivia!

  1. What state (bonus points for city!) was the first drive-in movie shown?
  2. Who was the inventor of the drive-in movie theater?
  3. What was the title of the first movie shown?
  4. In what decade did the popularity of drive-in movie theaters peak?
  5. How much did it cost to get into the first drive-in movie?

While the popularity of drive-in movies has declined over the years, the good news is we are lucky to have several theaters in Susquehanna’s market area!  Several have invested in upgrades to digital projection systems.  Some theaters even let you reserve your space online to ensure you get a great seat no matter what time you arrive.

The movie companies used to only allow second-run movies to be shown at drive-ins, but now they often show first-run movies.  Epic, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Fast & Furious 6 seemed to be popular choices this past weekend.  Most drive-ins offer a double feature – two movies in one night, typically costing even less than you may pay at a typical indoor theater for one movie!

Many are family friendly (some are even pet friendly!) so you can have a fun evening out with the whole family. Often times, the first movie is for all ages, while the later showing may be more for adults. The nice thing is the kids can fall asleep in the car and you can continue to enjoy the second show. And, of course you’ll have to stop by the concession stand …  I can smell the popcorn already!

How many of these theaters have you visited yourself?


Shankweiler’s Drive-In – Orefield, PA

This theater has the distinction of being America’s oldest continuously-operated drive-in theater.  It was the second theater ever opened, but it has never gone dark.  It is located just 5.5 miles from Susquehanna’s Tilghman Street branch in Allentown.

Becky’s Drive-In – Walnutport, PA

A few miles up the road from Shankweiler’s is Becky’s – just a stone’s throw from our Walnutport branch!  As is typical at some drive-ins, Becky’s features a nice playground for children – and they even have pony rides on Friday and Saturday nights!

Haars Drive-In – Dillsburg, PA 

Celebrating the first year of going digital, this theater is located less than a mile from our branch in Dillsburg!

Laurel Drive-In –  Hazleton, PA

Family-owned and operated since 1950, our Hazleton branch is less than 2 miles away.

Pike Drive-In – Montgomery, PA

This theater boasts three different screens, each showing a different double feature! It’s located near Williamsport, just 7.5 miles from our Center City branch.

Cumberland Drive-In – Newville, PA

Committed to a family-friendly environment, this theater only shows movies that are rated G, PG or PG-13.  Nearly 10 miles from our Walnut Bottom Road Branch, this theater allows you to reserve your space ahead of time.

Garden Drive-In – Hunlock Creek, PA

Located about 18 miles from our Conyngham Branch, this drive-in also hosts a flea market on Sundays!

322 Drive-In
– Between Clearfield & Philipsburg, PA

Built in 1950 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this theater is a little outside our area – about 23 miles northwest of State College.  Make it a part of a Penn State football weekend!


Delsea Drive-In – Vineland, NJ

This is the only New Jersey drive-in theater in operation, but we are fortunate that it is less than 2 miles from our Chestnut Ave. branch! Here’s an interesting tidbit of information from this article: “When the Delsea Drive-In opened in 1949, it touted free baby bottle warming, a common feature of outdoor theaters in those days.”


Bengies Drive-In – Baltimore, MD

The lone drive-in operating in Maryland is celebrating its 48th season of continuous operation.  This theater is located less than 9 miles from our Perry Hall branch.

I suppose you’d like answers to the trivia questions.  How many did you guess correctly?

  1. New Jersey – near Camden!
  2. Richard Hollingshead, Jr.
  3. Wives Beware
  4. 1950s
  5. Twenty-five cents per car, and 25 cents for each person in the car

Source can be found here.

Drop us a line or two about your drive-in memories!

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