Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. (a sales manager at his father’s auto parts company according to Wikipedia) opened the first Drive-In move theater under the name Park In-Theaters, Inc on June 6th, 1933 on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, NJ. Usually each car paid under a dollar for admission, vastly less than the astronomical prices for movies today. You can read the history of Hollingshead and his theater via this link at the History Channel’s website.
The mid-’80s saw the decline of the Drive-In movie theater. Hope is not lost though. Within the last few years the dine-in trend is coming back, so maybe we’ll see the resurgence of the Drive-In theater?
At the height of the Drive-In craze, Newark, NJ had one of the largest Drive-Ins in the country, but things started to get out of hand. In 1948 Ed Brown’s Fly-In and Drive-In opened in Asbury Park, NJ. Planes landed at a nearby airfield and were allowed to taxi to the back row which was designated for planes.Sounds like Disney’s Cars world, doesn’t it? This outdoor theater had space for 500 cars and 25 airplanes. The formula must have proven successful since another generic Fly-In/Drive-In opened in Belmar in the ’50s.
Considering that I’m not a huge fan of the revamped Dine-In theater gimmick, chances are, the Drive-In Theater wouldn’t appeal to me much either. Apparently, many people in my family managed and worked at a drive-in theater in New Jersey for several years and during high school and college I worked at the local theater as well, so I have a unique perspective. Ultimately, I’d rather be on my couch relaxing while watching a blu-ray and sipping some iced tea and chowing down on food that a waitress doesn’t have to interrupt the movie to bring over to me.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and you want to take the fam out for a night at the movies, why not bypass the usual 24-plex and pay a visit to The Delsea Drive-In in Vineland, New Jersey!
*You can find some of the information in this post at http://www.driveintheater.com/drivhis1.htm#oddities