One of the best ways to tie the past with the future is to visit a drive-in movie theatre. In their heyday (he 1950s), drive-in’s were all the rage. Whether it was a romantic date or family outing, a trip to the drive-in was, and still is, a fun, affordable experience.
As with so many things in life, technology has raised the bar when it comes to movie-going opportunities and the number of drive-in movie theaters in existence in the USA today has gone from thousands to a couple hundred … sadly, leaving only seven remaining in the Sunshine State. Although they are hard to come by, there’s something comforting that happens when you find one. Let’s face it, where else can you catch a double feature (mostly first run films) for $5.00 to $7.00 per person?
In many ways, it’s the emotional connection with yesteryear that keeps these gems alive. If you travel to one of these drive-ins, please keep in mind that it’s the concession purchases that preserve these historic landmarks. So please don’t smuggle in your own treats. Venture out of your vehicle to the concession stand to select your movie-going grub (popcorn, hot dogs, nachos, candy, soda, etc.). It’s truly part of the whole drive-in experience to make a trip to the snack bar. Also, even if they take credit cards, cash is always the preferred method of payment for tickets and snacks.
Being mindful of the financial obligations of mom and pop establishments, paying with cash will hopefully insure that they are still around for the next generation to enjoy!
A couple more things to note … it’s never a bad idea to keep some bug spray in your car. Depending on the time of the year, you will be happy you have it with you. Bring chairs with you. If the weather is nice, you can crank up your radio and sit outside to watch the film. Also, do not leave your headlights, parking lights or put your foot on the brake. These things will become a distraction to those around you.
Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre
4100 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland (Polk County)
This year, the Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. When it first opened, it was promoted as “Florida’s newest most modern outdoor theatre.” The theatre added a second screen in 1985 and has been showing double features seven days a week ever since. Silver Moon is the last drive in movie theatre in Polk County and is located about an hour west of Orlando, making it the closest drive-in to Central Florida’s main theme parks/attractions.
Even after 70 years, Silver Moon remains a popular destination, so patrons are encouraged to show up early to insure they get a spot.
The sound from the movies comes through your FM car radio, but they also have in-car speakers available in some rows.
Back in the day, vendors would circulate among the cars, selling candy, soft drinks, popcorn, sandwiches and cigarettes. Although that service is no longer available, a trip to the concession stand should be part of your drive-in adventure. May we recommend the chilly dilly pickle, which has become one of the most sought after snack bar treats.
Tickets are $5.00 (ages 10+) and $2 (ages 3-9). There is also a Swap Shop on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 5am.