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Tuesday
Jul062010

Let's All Go To The Drive-In!

Drive-in movie theaters are a part of American culture. They are now seen as old dinosaurs with drive-in graveyards more plentiful than venues still in operation. The Ford-Wyoming Drive-In in Dearborn, Michigan is our lone surviving drive-in in metro Detroit.

The Ford-Wyoming Drive-In in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Ford-Wyoming is open 7 days a week, year round, has 5 screens showing recent releases, and can accommodate over 1500 cars!

My husband had never been to a proper drive-in so on the Fourth of July we went to see Toy Story 3 in the most American way possible. We parked up at the drive-in!

Going to the drive-in movie theater was a special treat when I was a kid. We’d go in our pajamas and bring our pillows and sleeping bags. I remember going to the Galaxy in Madison Heights and the Troy and Van Dyke Drive-Ins. Sometimes we’d go with just our family, sometimes we’d hop in a car with all of our neighbors.

You can still use these old speakers or you can tune the sound in on your car radio.

My parents, who were teenagers in the 1950’s, grew up in the heyday of the drive-ins. My dad has fond memories of the Gratiot, the Van Dyke, and especially the Bel-Air. “What was nice about the Bel-Air was that there was a spot behind the drive-in where you could park. You couldn’t hear the movie but it was a good place to 'park'.”

The Ford-Wyoming is old, it opened in 1950, and it’s a bit rundown. That didn’t hamper our recent visit; in fact, my husband and I had a blast! We'll go back to the drive-in a few more times this summer.

You can enjoy the movie in the comfort of your own car, catch a double feature, and enjoy a summer night. And, because it was the Fourth of July, there were fireworks going on all around us.

The screen quality may not stand up to modern indoor theaters but the atmosphere makes up for it. Drive-ins are also quite economical. At the Ford-Wyoming it’s $8.50 for an adult and that includes two movies. You can also bring your own snacks and beverages. We opted to bring our own beverages and buy some buttery movie theater popcorn from the concession stand.

Drive-Ins aren’t just for date night; they also are a great destination for family fun or a group outing.

A few tips for your next trip to the drive-in:

  • If you don’t want to sit in your car bring lawn chairs, pillows, and blankets.
  • Bring your own food and beverages to save on cost.
  • Shut off your headlights. Don’t be that guy!
  • Remember to bring a keychain light or glow sticks to navigate your way to the concession stand and restrooms.
  • Get there early to pick the best spot. (The gates at the Ford-Wyoming open at 8:00 p.m.during the summer.)

The Ford-Wyoming may be the last surviving drive-in in metro Detroit but there are a few others still open throughout Michigan. Check out this list when you head out on your next road trip. You can also watch movies at the Drive-In Theaters at Compuware Arena.

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Reader Comments (9)

It's not a permanent drive-in, but the Pontiac Silverdome sets up a drive-in in summer, too! They have three screens, and it's only $7 per adult. http://www.silverdomedrivein.com/

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheri

Ahhh, the Ford-Wyoming, my childhood entertainment in the 70s & early 80s. It was always a special treat when my parents would get home from work on a Friday night and tell us to go right upstairs and put on our PJs ... that meant we were going to the drive-in! My mom would whip up a cooler full of treats and we would load into our wood panel station wagon which was backed into a spot so that we could all lay in the back and enjoy the show on sleeping bags and pillows. My brother and I inevitably fell asleep and were ready to be carried straight to bed since my mom was smart enough to plan the PJ ensambles.

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I have a soft spot for the Ford Wyoming - thanks for the post!

Although a little outside of Metro Detroit, Compuware Arena in Plymouth also has a drive-in. http://www.compuwarearena.com/drivein.html

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Laura,
Thanks! I did include the movies at the Compuware Arena at the bottom of the post.

Karen,
Great memories! Thanks for sharing. :D

Cheri,
My bad, I thought they stopped the movies at the Silverdome, thanks for the heads-up. But for me, neither Compuware or the Silverdome are real drive-ins.

July 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Ahh, great memories! I remember my parents dragging us kids to go see '9 to 5' at a local (now defunct) drive-in. Evidently the babysitter was unavailable that night. All I remember from the movie is the song by Dolly Parton and playing in the back of the station wagon while drinking warm grape Kool-Aid and eating salty popcorn out of a brown grocery bag.

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

We were going to hit the Ford-Wyoming drive in a few days ago (but I wasn't feeling well) Sol lays on the roof of the van on a blanket! Good times :)

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWatty

I remember going to the Troy Drive In and the Oak Drive In (Royal Oak on Normandy)...but those are both gone now. Can't remember the last time I've gone.
We do see them setting up the temp screens out at Compuware at the end of the Whalers Hockey season, but we've yet to be tempted to go there. I'm with you...it just doesn't seem like it would have the same ambiance.
I took some shots of the Cherry Bowl Drive In in Beulah, MI, last winter and blogged about that some time back. It's looks like a pretty classic drive in, too.

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Andrew,
What a great memory! Laughing at warm Kool-Aid and salty popcorn. :)

Watty,
Yep, I remember sitting on the roof of a van too! Sol is old school cool.

Dominique,
It's odd, I found the Oak Drive-In while doing research but I don't remember it. I'm wondering when it closed. I spent a lot of time in Royal Oak (caddied at Red Run) during 80-84 so you think I would have heard of it.

July 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I have had a long-time love affair with the Ford Wyoming. Bryan (my husband) and I will go there in the dead of winter regularly and have an entire theater to ourselves. It's particularly fun "skating" to the concession stand from your car.

Last year I even held my birthday party there. Watched two cinematic classics (not) The Proposal and G-Force as we ate birthday cake out of the back of a pick up. (All class.) It's just such a cool experience and you can't beat the price. Though not particularly legal, if you time it right you can watch 4 movies in a night because all movies are played twice.

Our only rule is that we don't see "scary" movies at the Ford Wyoming- there are usually too dark and can't be seen on the outdoor screens which stay pretty lit from the surrounding businesses.

July 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUrsula

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