Texas Drive-ins

Texas was host to the 3rd drive-in theatre to open in
America, at Galveston in July of 1934 (the 1st & 2nd had
opened in New Jersey and Pennsylvania), and thereafter - as
in most things, Texas went at it in a BIG way .. by the late 50's,
generally the peak years for American drive-ins, Texans had the
biggest peak in the industry, hosting nearly 400 outdoor theatres.

  Amarillo, Texas
Photo ©2000 Annette Drowlette

Although the state had held-out in true Alamo fashion, longer than most,
and, was still harboring nearly 200 drive-in theatres even 20 years after
the boom ..  but ultimately, Texas would see their number decline by 96%
and presently, there are only 16 Drive-ins operating in the Lone Star state.
On an UP note:  5 of these were built or revived in the past four years, and
the next .. a new twin-screen Drive-in (Lubbock) will be lit in July of 2003.

  • Abilene (Taylor County) Texas
     Click to view current Movie Schedule Town and Country Drive-in: 915-677-9899
    2902 Vogel Street @ Mockingbird (near I-20)

    When the T-and-C opened (with Guys and Dolls) on
    June 21st, 1956, it was reported that $250,000 had
    been spent on its construction, and it was billed as:
    The Biggest Drive-in Theatre in Texas. The Lone Star
    state at that point in time was Numero Uno among all
    Drive-in states, with nearly 400 in operation; Abilene,
    with the addition of the T&C could claim seven itself.
    To stake its claim, it provided parking for nearly 1500
    cars (with 4 incoming traffic lanes to get them all in),
    a rooftop garden above the concession building that
    sat a couple hundred people, a vast playground which
    showcased an electric Ferris wheel, and two screens,
    spread-out across 23 acres. The show went on here for
    25 years, before its two screens went dark on the 10th
    of September, 1981 (in the fading light, they screened
    a matched pairing of:  Popeye  /  Tidal Wave;  Blowout
    and Dressed to Kill). Ultimately, all seven of Abilene's
    outdoor picture shows would shut-down; with the Park
    Drive-in being the last to go out, 5 years later. The T&C
    remained dark for 19 years, but was fortunately acquired
    by a couple with the means and enthusiasm to resurrect it
    after two decades of neglect. They re-opened for Season 2K
    on July 7th, lighting a 100' wide screen with  Dinosaur and
    Shanghai Noon. They intend to operate year-round, screening
    double features up on 'the biggest screen in Abilene' while also
    making a point of featuring revivals such as Dances with Wolves.
    Audio: DTS FM stereo (88.9/95.5) radio.  Admission: $5 per person
    (12&up); $2.50 for children of ages 6-12; kids under 6 admitted free.

  • Alice (Jimm Wells County) Texas
    Buckhorn Drive-in:   DARK
    located on Route 44

    This was a great family Drive-in at one time (may be again!).
    It had originally opened back in 1948, but went dark in '86.
    The family attractions included a petting zoo & playground.
    Although the light has been out over this picture show for 14
    years now, the years and the weather have been kind to it,
    and we've heard that it might actually be revived & reopen.

  • Amarillo (Potter County) Texas
    Tascosa Drive-in:  806-383-3882
    located at 1999 Dumas Highway (Hwy 287),
    (1 blk s. of NE 24th, and ½mi off U.S. Rte.66)

    First lit-up in 1952, the Tascosa originally had twin
    screens on the north and south side of the property.
    The north screen was destroyed by fire back in '78 ..
    and subsequently, the old Ozoner went dark.  Different
    twist, but usual ending. Not every Drive-in goes down in
    flames, but most of them went dark.  The story doesn't
    wrap with 'Fade to Black' however ..  there's light at the
    end of the Tascosa.   Restored, revived, and re-opened
    in the summer of the last year of the last century - '99,
    the Tascosa is back from the brink, lighting the screen
    with a first-run double feature, every night of the week.
    Admission: $6 per person - adults; $3 children under 12
    (young children seated in car seats are admitted free).

  • Clarendon (Donley County) Texas   
    Sandell Drive-in:  806-874-0685
    located on Highway 70 (just north of Hwy.287)

    First lit back in '55, in the midst of America's Drive-in boom,
    this solo screen was named after the original owner's two
    daughters, Sandra & Adele .. and their namesake screen
    remained lit, with the light flickering for 29 consecutive
    seasons, before going dark in 1984. Darkness however,
    exists only in the absence of light .. and after a series of
    'coincidences'   beckoned a new owner for the Sandell
    (a tall and lean Texan not inclined to believe in accidents
    or place his faith and stock in mere coincidence), despite
    having been dark and neglected for 18 years, a resurrection
    of the Sandell was undertaken. By Summer's end of Season
    2002, the Sandell was finally re-lit, coming back with a double
    feature, pairing: Joshua and Signs for the LaborDay Weekend.
    Movie audio for up to 300 cars is provided with FM (88.3) radio.
    The revived Sandell will be open on Weekends only (Fri/Sat/Sun),
    year-round, and almost always with a double feature for the one
    admission price of $4.50 for ages 12&up; $3.50 kids & Seniors
    (no charge for young children who are seated in car seats).

  • Dallas (Dallas County) Texas
    Astro-3 Drive-in:  GONE
    formerly located at 3141 S. Walker Blvd.

    * The three-screen Astro, which used to be
      open year-round, caught fire last year ...
      and whatever was left was then bulldozed.

  • El Paso (El Paso) Texas
    Fiesta Drive-in:  915-857-0000
    located at 13800 Montana Avenue

    Solo screen with a capacity for up to 500 cars;
    open year-round; screens X-rated films only.

  • Gatesville (Coryell County) Texas
    The Last Drive-in Picture Show:  254-865-8445
    located at 2912 South State Highway 36
    (1 mile south of 84, on Highway 36)

    One of the oldest of all the remaining Lone Star Dr'ins
    has been through a few name changes over the years:
    it first opened as the Circle S   back in 1950;   became
    the Town & Country Drive-in 14 years later;   and was
    renamed The Last Picture Show in 1989. This is also 1
    of 8 "MoPeds" in America-- an instance where there is
    both a motor theatre and walk-in theatre located on the
    same property (the indoor cinema was added in 1972).
    The Drive-in is open 7 nites, throughout the year- except
    Christmas eve, and is usually screening a double feature
    each nite. The same family has been keeping the screen
    lit-up in gatesville, Texas, for 38 years, and it's very much a
    family-oriented venue (as policy: no R-rated movies shown).
    There are still some old speakers here for nostalgia lovers,
    although the audio is provided primarily with FM (88.1) radio.
    Admission:  for any number of passengers, it's $10 per car
    on Fri/Sat nites during summer - June/July/August; $5 per car
    other nites during summer months, and all nites other seasons.

  • Graham (Young County) Texas
    Graham Drive-in:  940-549-8478
    located on the Jacksboro Highway

    The Graham is open seasonally, May - September
    on weekends only (Fri-Sat-Sun); screening single
    features. The audio for the movies' soundtrack is
    still provided with traditional Drive-in speakers.
    Admission: $4 ($1 for ages 6-11); 5 & under free.

  • Granbury (Hood County) Texas
    Brazos Drive-in:  817-573-1311
    located on West Pearl Street - Bus. Route 377
    (2½ miles west of the town of Granbury)

    The Brazos has been lit-up every season since it
    first opened - in 1952; with some of those seasons
    stretching year-round, being interrupted only by
    the most inclement weather. Dependably, their
    season can be expected to run April-November,
    although it's worth a phone call to discover that
    they may be open as early as March and as late
    as December, but it's always: on weekends only.
    They screen double features Friday & Saturday;
    a single feature on Sunday nites; audio: 89.1 FM.
    Admission:  all passengers 1 price .. $13/carload.

  • Houston (Harris County) Texas
    Zocalo Drive-in Theater:   DARK
    located at 5223 Feagan Street

    Had been Open sporadically, and usually on Saturdays;
    operated by a non-profit org that tried to feature
    unusual fare, independent and 'art circuit' films.

  • Lamesa (Dawson County) Texas
    Sky Vue Drive-in:  806-872-7004
    located on South Big Spring Highway

    It can generally be said that a Drive-in's ticket booth
    supports the studios, distributors, and booking agencies
    primarily, while the snackbar supports the Drive-in itself,
    and that observation certainly applies to the Sky Vue ..
    which goes all out in a BIG Texas way to make the most
    of its snackbar. The biggest item at their big snackbar is
    the Chihauhau sandwich (just during Season 2K more than
    25,000 of them have been served-up here!); and the owners
    credit patronage of the Sky Vue's snackbar as the means of
    having been able to keep the Drive-in open, which has been
    in operation since 1948. The Sky Vue is lit-up on weekends
    (Fri-Sat-Sun) March thru December, and Wednesdays as well
    in peak season, when school lets out. On most nites, they're
    screening a single feature; occasionally double features on the
    holiday weekends. Audio for the movies' soundtrack is provided
    by FM (91.9) radio broadcast. Admission: $4 (free for all under 5).

  • Lone Star (Morris County) Texas
    Lone Star Drive-in:  DARK
    Highway 259 South (between Daingerfield & Lone Star)

    The old Lone Star is one of Texas' GhostTown Drive-ins ..
    still pretty much intact, but, terribly forlorn, and showing
    its age; frequented by lots of vegetation in attendance now.
    It was first lit in 1953 but has been dark for nearly 2 decades.

  • Lubbock (Lubbock County) Texas
    Stars & Stripes Drive-in Theatre:  
    Hwy. 84 (Clovis Hiway) ¾mi w. of N.Quaker Ave.,

    The Lone Star State's latest contribution to the
    Drive-in renaissance sweeping America will be
    a new twin-screen Dr'in with a capacity for up to
    a thousand cars, on a 24-acre site 5 mins from I-27.
    Given the patriotic name, the owners are hoping
    to complete construction and preparations in time
    to open {appropriately} for July 4th weekend, 2003.

  • Marshall (Harrison County) Texas
    Capri Drive-in Theatre:   DARK
    formerly located at 5205 Victory Drive

    The old screen is still out there, but we hear that
    the Capri is being used as a storage yard now.

  • McAllen (Hidalgo County) Texas
    Valley Drive-in:   GONE!
    formerly located on Highway 83, and
    presently located out along The Lost Hiway.

    Not counting the growing number of restorations
    and resurrections of Texas Drive-ins, the Valley
    was the youngest of the Lone Star Dr'ins, having
    been built from the ground up in 1971 .. well after
    the peak of America's Drive-in boom and at a time
    when Texas Dr'ins were on their way out, not UP.
    The Valley's single screen remained lit-up @nite
    for 30 years, but darkness overcame it in August
    of 2001 .. sold-off, and, subsequently, demolished.

  • Mercedes (Cameron County) Texas
    Wes-Mer Drive-in:  956-565-9050
    located on Rte.83 between Mercedes & Weslaco

    Originally lighting-up at the beginning of America's
    Drive-in boom in the late 1940's, the Wes-Mer, like
    hundreds of other outdoor screens in the LoneStar
    state, was snuffed-out during the thinning of the
    Ozoner layer .. and went dark in 1984. Ten years
    it had lain idle, fading, and forlorn, but ultimately
    was restored and re-lit .. and was the first of several
    roadside resurrections in Texas that were to follow.
    The Wes-Mer is open 4 nites of the week: Fri-Sat-Sun
    and Tuesday, throughout the year. They're screening a
    double feature each nite. Audio provided via FM radio.
    Admission: $10 per carload covers all passengers.

  • Pearsall (Frio County) Texas
    Moonlighter Drive-in:   DARK
    located on Tilden Road

    The dark side of the Moon: the winds of change blew thru
    with such severity here in '96 that the extensive damage
    to their screen and tower resulted in the owners opting
    for shutting down rather than attempt the costly repairs.

  • Rule (Haskell County) Texas
    Tower Drive-in:  940-997-1300
    located on Highway 6 (½ mile north of Rule)
    3 hours from DFW / 50 miles north of Abilene

    The Tower is the only Texas Dr'in dating back to
    the boom years ('55) which was built by and is still
    being operated by the same family .. a family that
    has run four outdoor picture shows - in Llano, Rule,
    San Saba, and Spur. Drive-ins definitely run in the
    family. And so do tornadoes!  Twisters whacked-out
    both the San Saba and the Spur (and the Llano went
    dark owing to consecutively poor attendance). Then,
    at the last of their picture shows, in Rule, Texas, that
    familiar sinking feeling returned following a screening
    of Titanic in the spring of '98 .. as yet another tornado
    came to one of their drive-ins and took out the screen.
    To make matters worse, they had no insurance, and
    with three strikes, they figured they were out. But the
    fine folks of the Texas Biglands in the communities
    long-served by the Whortons' picture show had other
    plans, and they rallied to save and personally rebuild
    the screen (reminscent of a resurrection in Virginia).
    The reopened Drive-in is screening single features
    each nite, on weekends spring & fall; 7 nites during
    peak summer season; open April thru Halloween.
    Audio for the movies' soundtrack is provided with
    FM (96.3) radio. Capacity: 300 cars.  Admission is:
    $4 per person for adults; $2 for children aged 6-11
    (the wee folk under 6yrs of age are admitted free).

    * For those just joining us, the moral of this story ..
    Better to light a Drive-in than curse the darkness!

    photo: Roman Rodriguez
 San Antonio, Teaxs 
 by Roman Rodriguez

  • San Antonio (Bexar County) Texas
    Mission 4 Drive-in:  210-532-3259
    located at 3100 Roosevelt Avenue; San Antonio's
    south side, at intersection of Roosevelt & White

    San Antonio once hosted more Drive-ins (20) than are currently
    operating in the entire state of Texas. Remember the Alamo ?..
    (1430 Austin Highway), now located out along The Lost Hiway,
    same owners built the Mission Drive-in. It was first lit as a solo
    screen, opening with a 77-minute long love-triangle Western --
    Pirates of Monterey, starring Maria Montez, Philip Reed, and
    Rod Cameron, on March 27th, 1948. After a run of more than
    ½ a century, it looked as if San Antonio might be totally 'dark' ..
    and The Word during season 2000 was:  that there might  be
    a Y2K crisis here, and the probable result:  abort the Mission.

    Flash Forward:   to Season 2001 ..   re-lit, and Cinemark is now
    running the show ..  (the Grand REopening was May 25th, 2001);
    all remains well; the Mission is continuing through Season 2003.
    Four screens are lit with a double-feature on each; audio is FM -
    frequencies:   Screen1 = 99.9 FM; Screen2 = 89.7 FM; Screen3 =
    103.1 FM; and Screen4 can be tuned-in on 106.3 FM.   Admission:
    ages 15&up $5; children 6-14 $3; and under age 6 admitted free.

 Shiner, Texas

  • Shiner (Lavaca County) Texas
     Click to view current Movie Schedule Crossroads Drive-in:  361-594-3404
    located 3 miles east of town on Highway 90
    (about twenty miles south of Interstate 10)

    A Drive-in revival is underway ..   Texas has
    been adding notches .. in '99 with the revival of the
    Tascosa, and in year 2K with the re-lighting of the
    Town & Country, and the Midway.  And then, 2001
    was 3 years in a row, with the opening of the all-new
    from the ground up Crossroads Drive-in, which has
    a capacity for 175 cars (audio: 93.5 FM broadcast).
    Situated southeast of Austin, and roughly mid-way
    between San Antonio and Houston, the Crossroads
    had been the dream of a husband-wife team, who
    are presently screening a double current feature
    on Fridays and Saturdays - open weekends only.
    Admission:  $4.50 (age 13&up);  Kids&Srs: $3.50

 Turkey, Texas

  • Turkey (Hall County) Texas
    Midway Drive-in:   806-423-1166
    located off Highway 86 - west of 70
    (midway between Quitaque and Turkey)

    During the boom years just about every Texas town
    had an outdoor picture show (or not far to go for one)
    and most of the bigger cities could claim several. For
    Turkey, Texas, it was the Midway, a modest Drive-in
    built in 1955 with a capacity for 200 cars - but ample
    enough for this rural community of half a thousand
    people. The screen at the Midway had been lit for
    32 seasons before it went dark, and remained dark
    another 13 years before being acquired and restored
    by a local schoolteacher (let that be a lesson to you!).
    The reopening of the Midway in May of 2000 was the
    first of two resurrections that occured in Texas during
    Season 2K (the second one was Abilene's T&C Drive-in).
    The screen is easy to spot from the road - painted with
    a huge American flag motif on the back. On front It's lit
    with a single feature on weekend nites, April - October.
    Audio is FM. Admission: $4 for ages 12&up; $2 for kids.

    * If you're thinking about maybe working the Midway
    into a future roadtrip, late April would definitely be the
    most interesting time to visit Turkey, Texas .. this was
    the Home of Bob Wills, the legendary King of Texas
    Swing .. and on the last Saturday in April, there is
    a Bob Wills Day Celebration. It begins with an old
    fashioned parade, followed by a big bar-b-que, and
    then at nite, there's a western dance held down at
    the old school gymnasium, plus a fiddlers contest,
    a swingin outdoor concert, and an arts&crafts fair.

  • Tyler (Smith County) Texas
    Apache Drive-in:  903-566-1199
    located on Highway 31 East

    Solo screen with a capacity for up to 300 cars;
    open year-round; screens X-rated films only.

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 The Guide to Drive-in Movie Theatres

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