Kansas Drive-ins

When they talk about the American heartland ..
Kansas gets right in the middle of the discussion. In fact,
Smith County, Kansas, is the midrib of the 48 contiguous states,
and the actual geodetic center of North America lies about 40 miles
south of Lebanon, at Meade's Ranch. And so Kansas is also the reference
point for land surveying in North America (whenever a surveyor is sighting
on property lines and boundaries, they are actually checking the position of
that property in its relation to a Ranch in the northwestern part of Kansas!).

 remembering Coffeyville, Kansas 
 -photo taken by  Barry Swanson

Seems as if Hollywood also took its bearings from Kansas,
particularly during its formative and less talkative years ..
some of the brightest lights and most enduring stars of the
early cinema were native sons and daughters of Kansas ..
including:  Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle (from Smith Center);
Buster Keaton (Piqua); Zasu Pitts (Parsons); and Charles
'Buddy' Rogers (Olathe); later to be followed by:  Hattie
McDaniel (the first black woman to snatch an Oscar -
for her role in Gone With The Wind); Harold Lloyd
(Burchard, KS); and Dennis Hopper (Dodge City, KS).

Aside from furnishing its share of Hollywood stars, Kansas
was also noted for furnishing Hollywood under the stars .. having
been one of the most enthusiastic of Drive-in states back during the
boom years for American Dr'ins, when as many as 125 outdoor theatres
had flourished within the Sunflower State. Since the peak years, 92% of
the Drive-in theatres in Kansas have gone dark or have been demolished ..
and presently, only 9 now remain in operation for us to enjoy and support:

  • Anthony (Harper County) Kansas
    Star-Vue Drive-in:   DARK
    located at 72 State Highway 14 North
    (aka: 72 N. Harper County Avenue)

    Solo screen with a capacity for a couple hundred
    cars, which had remained lit here for half a century
    (aside from storm damage that shut it down in '95).
    In recent years they were open on weekends only, from
    May-October, screening a single feature each nite.
    There's been no view of the stars here though
    for a couple of years (still dark, since 2003).

 Coffeyville, KS

  • Coffeyville (Montgomery County) Kansas
    Tal's Drive-in Theatre:   GONE
    formerly located on Cline Road

    Tal's had been in operation every year consecutively
    since 1949. But after having remained lit for more than
    50 consecutive seasons, Season 2K was its last (effective
    Sunday, Sept. 17, 2000). The Drive-in property was acquired
    by the local school system (but is there a Lesson in that?!).

  • Dodge City (Ford County) Kansas
    South Drive-in:  620-225-4301
    located at 1019 West McArtor Road

    First lit back in 1947, this is the state's oldest
    operating outdoor cinema .. an old fashioned
    solo screen Drive-in, with a capacity for up to
    300 cars; open seasonally, April thru October.
    Showing double features on one of the largest
    screens.   Movie audio provided with AM & FM
    radio (and with pole speakers still functioning);
    open on weekends only (Friday-Saturday-Sunday).
    Admission: $10 per carload covers all passengers.

 El Dorado, KS

  • El Dorado (Butler County) Kansas
    Star Vu Drive-in:  316-321-2444
    located on the east side of Route E1 (RR1)

    The second-oldest Drive-in which has remained
    operating in Kansas, is this solo screen, which
    was first lit back in 1949, for up to 300 cars.
    Their screen is usually lit with a double feature
    and audio is provided by (96.7 FM) radio broadcast.
    Admission: $6 for ages 12&up; $1 ages 6-11 5 and & under free.

    NOTE:   For several weeks there's been a view
    of the stars right-thru the screen .. after damage
    caused by a tornado on June 10th (2005). Things
    have been patched-up, and as of August 12th, the
    Drive-in is open again on weekends only; Fridays
    and Saturdays, for the remainder of Season 2005.

  • Gas (Allen County) Kansas
    54 Drive-in:  620-365-7676
    located on Highway 54, 1 mile east of town

    Solo screen Drive-in which has been lit since
    the late 50's heyday of America's Drive-ins,
    which has a capacity for up to 300 cars.

  • Iola
    see:   Gas, Kansas

  • Kanopolis (Ellsworth County) Kansas
    Kanapolis Drive-in:  785-472-4786
    located at 804 North Kansas Avenue

    Solo screen, which was first lit back during the
    early years of America's Drive-in boom in 1952,
    and has remained in continuous operation; with
    a capacity for up to 750 cars. Screening double
    features, seasonally, April thru September.

 Kansas City, Kansas

  • Kansas City (Wyandotte County) Kansas
     CLICK for Current Movie Schedule   Boulevard Drive-in Theatre:  913-262-0392
    located at 1051 Merriam Lane (near I-35)

    First lit on June 30th, 1950 (under present management
    since 1984); exceptionally well-maintained Dr'in; featuring the
    traditional speakers for nostalgia fans & DTS digital sound + FM
    Dolby stereo (March-Oct); 'SwapShop' flea mkt here on wknds.
    The Boulevard Drive-in was the first Dr'in to install DTS audio;
    Freq: FM (89.7) radio.   Admission: $7 person for ages 12 & up.
    On Friday & Saturday nites they offer a bonus triple screening.

  • Medicine Lodge (Barber County) Kansas
    Pageant Drive-in:  620-886-5358 / 800-956-6843
    located on Highway 160 (1½ miles east of town)

    This solo screen was first lit back in 1953 - tho
    not in continuous operation all these years. It
    was restored and revived, with both traditional
    pole speakers operating, as well as an FM radio
    broadcast of the movies' soundtrack. Screening
    a single feature, seasonally, May thru September.

  • Ness City (Ness County) Kansas
    Star Drive-in:   DARK
    located on Highway 283 North

  • Norton (Norton County) Kansas
    Sunset Drive-in:   DARK
    located at 215 East Main Street

  • Osawatomie (Miami County) Kansas
    Midway Drive-in:  913-755-2325
    located at 29591 West 327th Street (Route 5) ..
    mid-way between Osawatomie and Paola, Kansas
    and, mid-way between I-35 and the Missouri line)

    The smallest of Kansas' operating Drive-ins,
    this solo screen has a capacity for 240 cars.
    Screening double features, seasonally, April-
    Sept; and still using traditional pole speakers.
    Admission: $5.75 (ages 12&up); $1 for ages 3-11.

  • Paola (see: Osawatomie)

     Chisholm Trail Drive-in 
 Wellington, Kansas

  • Wellington (Sumner County) Kansas
    Chisholm Trail Drive-in:    GONE
    formerly located on Route 1 @ 1850 East 16th
    (3 miles from Highway 60)

    At the time of its opening in May of 1950,
    the Chisholm Trail was reported as having
    the largest outdoor screen in all of Kansas.
    Their screen remained lit for 51 consecutive
    seasons, finally going dark on the last wknd
    of September, 2001, the property having been
    acquired by the local school district.

     Starlite Twin Drive-in 
 Wichita, Kansas

  • Wichita (Sedgewick County) Kansas
    Starlite Twin Drive-in:  316-524-3267
    located at 3900 South Hydraulic St @ MacArthur
    (3 blks from Hydraulic St. exit (Exit 2) off I-135

    Wichita once had as many Drive-in theatres as are
    currently operating throughout the entire state of
    Kansas. There is some compensation and solace,
    by the fact that Wichita's sole remaining outdoor
    picture show is an exemplary Drive-in experience.
    It is also the largest of the state's Drive-in theatres,
    with two screens and a capacity for up to 1300 cars.
    The Starlite's twins are lit with double features, and
    on Friday and Saturday nites, a bonus triple feature, for
    one admission price. Audio is provided with a local FM
    radio broadcast, as well as traditional pole speakers.
    Admission:   $7 (12&up); ages 7-11 $1;   6 & under free
    (in spring and fall they feature a carload rate: $10/car).

 Make use of this stamp:  
  send us a Letter about 
 the Drive-ins of Kansas!

If you are aware of any Drive-ins
that we seem to have missed, or
would like to contribute any
information to our efforts,
please use this envelope
to send a letter to us.


 The Guide to Drive-in Movie Theatres

• webcraft by •