There’s something wonderfully fun and nostalgic about drive-in movie theaters. Older generations remember family outings and date nights at these unique and wonderful businesses. Though not as wildly popular as they were a few decades ago, a few old-school drive-in locations still exist in Wisconsin. But they aren’t the only place to enjoy the ability of watching a movie under the stars. Two new, temporary, pop-up-style drive-ins have been announced, so you have no excuse for not introducing your family to this distinctive and special way to watch a movie.
Even with all the advances in digital technology and movie theaters, there’s still something really special about the extra-wide screens you find at drive-ins. The movie stars and action sequences feel even more larger-than-life. Back in the 80’s, we used to back into the parking spot and pile into the back of the station wagon, where we had blankets and pillows and could cuddle up and settle in for the double-feature. These days there aren’t many station wagons, but your family can still enjoy the drive in. Just remember to think of the people behind you when you pop your tailgate and try to watch from the back of your SUV.
There are still eight remaining old-school drive-ins across the state, in places like the Wisconsin Dells, Door County and way up north in Chetek. But there are two within a reasonable driving distance here in Wisconsin and a third just over the state line in Illinois. Add in the two pop-up drive-ins and it turns out there are a wide variety of options for you and your family to find some socially-distant entertainment and an excuse to get out of the house.
Chilton Twilight Outdoor Theater: Located about 90 minutes from Milwaukee, this one is a bit of a drive, but still well worth the effort. The single-screen outdoor theater starts playing movies at dusk – about 8:30 pm. Admission gets you a double-feature and plans are to run movies Wednesday through Sunday every week. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children ages 11 and younger. You can also order pizza delivered right to your vehicle.
Highway 18 Outdoor Theatre: Scheduled to open for the season on June 19. Located about 50 miles outside Milwaukee, a few miles south of Johnson Creek, this is the closest traditional drive-in to the Milwaukee area. This all-digital drive-in offers a double-feature every night of the week. They don’t allow outside food, but have a full concession menu. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children and $8 for seniors.
The McHenry Outdoor: These folks have implemented all kinds of regulations to make sure you can stay safe this summer. They’re showing a double-header every night of the week and parking cars 12 to 16 feet apart. Bring your own radio or use your car’s FM frequency to get audio. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for kids and seniors.
Apocalypse Drive-In: These folks screen movies right on the side of the building at Bounce Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday evenings. Come early to make sure you get a spot – parking spaces are limited. But you can order right from the Bounce menu either over the phone or online and have it delivered out to your car. Sound is broadcast on an FM radio station and admission is free!
Milky Way Drive-In: This newly announced venture will be showing movies at Ballpark Commons in Franklin. They’ll have two showings each night, with earlier movies meant for families with young children and older showings geared toward teenagers and adults. Plans are to run movies every weekend from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Food options will be ballpark concession-style, with additional food trucks augmenting the selection each week.