Santee Drive-In: A Trip Down Memory Lane

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Taking a date to watch a movie at the theater is a standard move, but if you’re looking to add some old fashioned charm, look no further than the Santee Drive-In Theater. If you want to have a cheap night out with some friends before the summer is gone, the drive-in is a fun way to change things up. Or, if you have a family of your own and you want to enjoy your time together outside of the house by watching a good flick and feeling the breeze of a cool summer night through the car windows, the drive-in has you covered as well. No matter who you are, watching a movie from your car is always a fun alternative to paying for overpriced evening tickets at a standard theater. At the Santee Drive-In, the gates open at 7:30pm and the movies start at 8pm every night of the week. Tickets are $9.00 for adults, $4.00 for juniors, and children under 4 are free.

When most people think of drive-in theaters, they envision the 1950’s and scenes from Grease. And that’s for good reason: Drive-Ins were a big part of life if you grew up in the 50’s. The drive-in was once a place that showcased not only new movies, but a lot of other new technology as well. Other innovations that were also seen at the drive-in included in-car heaters and mobile concession carts. Today we have iPhones and Netflix, and we can watch movies from anywhere we want, but just a few short decades ago, drive-ins were the space to check out new and exciting innovations.

Though the technology was a big draw, the main appeal of drive-in movie theaters was still driven by the casual and convenient alternative they offered to traditional indoor movie houses. You could put the kids in their pajamas and spend a cool summer evening at the drive-in, rather than heading for the city to go to a stuffy indoor theatre. While people today may look back on drive-in theaters as a testament to the innocence and glory of yesteryear, these theaters experienced a rapid decline in popularity towards the end of the 50’s because many viewed them as the opposite. The media often portrayed drive-ins as “passion pits”, and as a result, less families and adults would attend.

Adding to the declining popularity of drive-in theaters was the introduction of daylight savings time. Families that wanted to watch a movie had to wait until much later in the evening if they wanted to go to a drive-in instead of a regular theater. Drive-in theaters soon found it more and more difficult to compete with the multiplex theaters that were being built in the suburbs. Soon, they were thought of as outdated.

Though drive-in theaters never really gained back their big boom of popularity, many still attend every now and again when they feel like adding a little charm to their evening. Visiting the Santee Drive-In feels like a trip to yesteryear. When you enter, you’ll find your lot and tune the car’s radio to a specified station for the audio. Then you can walk over to the snack shack and pick out some goodies for the show. Watching a movie from the comfort of your own car is an experience that has become a bit out of the ordinary, and it’s easy to see why so many people loved the drive-in back in its heyday.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected].

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