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Wisconsin Traditions: Drive-in Theaters

Hanging at Drive in

One of my favorite Wisconsin childhood memories involved going to the drive-in theater for summertime entertainment. My parents would load us kids up in the car along with blankets, canned soda pop, and Twizzlers.

Mom would pop popcorn to bring along.

We had an air pop popcorn maker and she’d run that machine until the bag was 3 /4 filled. Then layer it with a LOT of melted real sweet cream butter, which meant the brown grocery bag had to be doubled bagged! If you love the idea of taking your kids to a drive-in but you need to update your car insurance, visit this website for the latest deals.

Star lite Drive in
Star lite Drive in

At that time we could bring in snacks and drinks, however, today the drive-in generally prefers you don’t bring in outside items. The theaters conveniently provide popcorn and many tasty treats options.

The excitement of this adventure to a kid is so simple; we are doing something generally done inside, outside. We’re getting treats and being allowed to stay up late, what is not to love about this?

Waiting for the sun to set
Waiting for the sun to set

I’ve been to the ‘outdoor’, as many Wisconsinites call it, many times and it is always an enjoyable experience. I’ve sat in the car, outside the car on blankets, on chairs, even a blow up mattress once (no where near as my full size mattress I have at home mind you), been in hot melt me weather, and cold snuggle under the blanket weather, doesn’t matter what the temp is, that’s the adventure of watching a movie ‘outdoors’.
It’s a wise idea to check current weather conditions before heading to the outdoor so you bring the appropriate layers needed.
I have fond memories of laughter and fun while at the outdoor with my family. Images of my brother trying to block my view or tossing popcorn at me come to mind. My parents telling us, “to settle down” and the giggling that my brother and I would do when we continued to toss popcorn at one another.
Was this a summertime pastime for your family?
This is the type of tradition that I am proud to have shared with my children as I hope that they will share it with theirs.

Fun for all at Drive In
Fun for all at Drive In

Going to the ‘outdoor’ was a great family fun attraction as a young child; the great thing about the Drive-in culture is that the experience evolves as we age.
During the teen years the best part is the socializing before the movie starts or during intermission. My teen boys would often juggle devil sticks around on the grass patch in front of the screen until people would eventually filter toward them. Sometimes they would walk around between the cars to see who they knew.
What is your favorite Drive-in memory?
When vacationing in or near a town with a drive-in theater this should be considered a destination attraction!

You can’t go wrong; this is a great way to see current movies.

City Name
Chetek Stardust Twin Drive-in
Chilton Twilight Outdoor
Eau Claire Gemini Drive-in
Fish Creek Skyway Drive-in
Freedom Field Of Scenes Drive-in
Jefferson Hwy 18 Outdoor
Monroe Sky-Vu Drive-in
Pleasant Prarie Keno Drive-in
Richland Center Starlite 14 Drive-in
Shawano Moonlight Outdoor
Wisconsin Dells Big Sky Drive-in

Not sure if you are near a drive-in? drive-inthruwisconsin.com has a regional listing map that can help you locate the nearest theater.

Was going to the Drive-in a family tradition to your family? Drive-in or Outdoor, what do you call it?

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Written by Shawna Parlin

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Found in Wisconsin : Drive-In Theaters