Drive-in movie theatres of Wisconsin

During the mid 1950's heyday of America's Drive-ins,
Wisconsin had hosted more than 60 outdoor cinemas.

Since that time, 84% of these have gone dark or have
been demolished, and presently there are 10 Drive-ins
operating here. The good news is:  that 3 of these are
recent openings  or re-openings ..  the latest being in
the works, and slated to open in the Summer of 2003.

  • Abbotsford (Clark County) Wisconsin
    13-29 Drive-in Theatre:   GONE
    formerly located at 216 South 1st Street

 Eau Claire, Wisconsin

  • Eau Claire (Eau Claire) Wisconsin
    Gemini Drive-in Theatre:  715-874-5101
    located at 6730 Highway 12 West

    Open seasonally, May thru September; only
    wknds early & late in their season; 7 nites
    during summer months  (double features).
    Admission:  if you're going solo, it's $5, but
    only $10 per carload if you're feeling social.
    Monday is their bargain nite ($3 for singles);
    or as usual, only $10 per carload - covers all.

 Fish Creek, Wisconsin

  • Fish Creek (Door County) Wisconsin
    Skyway Drive-in Theatre:  920-854-9938
    located at 3475 State Highway 42
    (between Fish Creek & Ephraim)

    The big screen at  Wisconsin's 2nd-oldest continuously
    operated Drive-in theatre has been lit-up since 1950,
    but isn't showing its age, being so nicely maintained.
    They've modernized over the years, adding AM & FM
    radio broadcasting of the movies' soundtrack ..  yet,
    have kept traditional Dr'in speakers operating for the
    presence of the past (the real butter on fresh popcorn
    is also always a nice touch; so are foot-long hotdogs).
    The Skyway is open seasonally, May thru September;
    only wknds in May,  then 7 nites June thru Labor Day.
    Admission: $5 age12&up; $3 ages 6-11; 5&under free.

  • Franklin (Milwaukee County) Wisconsin
    41 Twin Drive-in Cinema:   GONE
    formerly located at 7701 South 27th Street {Old Hwy.41}

    Originally, a solo screen, which opened in the summer of '48 ..
    the 41 was first lit with a Western saga- Joel McCrea starring in
    FOUR FACES WEST, opposite a young William Conrad, as Sheriff
    (Conrad was only 27 when he made the film, his 8th, and was to
    eventually become best-known for his TVseries - CANNON, that
    would make it's debut on America's televisions 23 years later).
    William Conrad passed away on February 11, 1994, at age 73 ..
    at a time when the old screen near Milwukee, that he strutted
    across as Sheriff, had been lit for 45 years, and was about to
    be re-lit for its 46th consecutive season. And it remained so,
    with additional screenage being added, for another 7 years ..
    but all of that and the legacy of Wisconsin's oldest Drive-in
    came crashing down on April 4th of this year, when the '41
    was demolished to make way for an insurance office bldg.

  • Freedom (Outagamie County) Wisconsin
    Field of Scenes:    
    located on Highway 55 - south of town

    Wisconsin's latest contribution to the overall
    renaissance of the Drive-in theatre which we
    have been noticing and chronicling, will be this
    brand-new-from-the-ground-up & imaginatively
    named, large (90' wide) solo screen, which is
    expected to be open for the summer of 2003.

  • Green Bay, WI
    see:    Freedom, Wisconsin

 Jefferson, Wisconsin

  • Jefferson (Jefferson County) Wisconsin
    18 Outdoor Theatre:   920-674-6700
    located on Highway 18 @ County Route 89
    (2mi west of Jefferson; 45mins east of Madison)

    The Hiway 18 Outdoor Theatre was first lit back in '53,
    had gone dark ..  and then, like so many other drive-ins,
    the property was then sold.   But fortunately the buyer's
    intentions here were to restore  the drive-in and re-light
    the screen ..  which he did, during Season 2K, making it
    one of the first   "resurrections"   of the new millenium.
    The "18" has a capacity for 540 cars, a nice BIG 90' wide
    screen, and, although the audio is provided with FM radio
    broadcasts, a couple hundred traditional Dr'in speakers
    were made operational to benefit the nostalgically inclined.
    Thought was also given to renovating the snackbar menu:
    if  their BBQ pork sandwich doesn't do it for you,  unbuckle
    and try tackling their 2/3 lb. double-patty Gutbuster  burger!
    Admission: $6 age 12-64 ($4 Srs); $3 age 6-11; under5 free.

  • Kenosha (Kenosha County) Wisconsin
    Keno Family Drive-In:  262-694-8855
    located at Highway 32 & 91st Street

    Wisconsin's largest solo screen Drive-in, with
    a capacity for up to 800 cars ..  the Keno is also
    the state's oldest  continuously operated Drive-in.
    It's screen was first lit back in 1949, before the boom,
    at a time when there were only 4 Drive-ins in Wisconsin.
    Presently, they're screening double features, seasonally,
    April thru October; audio provided by FM radio broadcast.
    Admission: $5 for ages 12&up; $1 ages 4-11;  under 4 free.

  • Lake Geneva (Walworth County) Wisconsin
    Showboat Drive-in:  262-248-7655
    located at 2565 State Road 120 (off Route 12)

    Still under development; planned as an annex to
    their existing Showboat "Entertainment Center"
    (currently has an operating six-screen walk-in).
    Their Ship was originally expected to come in for
    Season 2002 .. but it will be a welcome addition IF
    the boat still manages to set sail for Season 2003.

  • Milwaukee (Milwaukee County) Wisconsin
    see:  Franklin, Wisconsin  (Hales Corners)

    photo:  Andy Hilbert
 Monroe, Wisconsin 
 by Andy Hilbert

  • Monroe (Green County) Wisconsin
    Sky Vu Drive-in:  608-325-4545
    located at 1936 State Route 69
    (1mi south of Monroe, on East side of 69)

    The Sky Vu opened-up as America's Drive-in
    boom was winding down, back in 1964 (at that
    point in time there were 49 drive-ins still
    operating in the state of Wisconsin), and it
    has operated continuously, on a seasonal basis,
    ever since. They're screening double features
    every nite during peak summer season, using
    FM stereo radio broadcasting for movie audio.
    Some worth-mentionings about their snackbar:
    they knew their hotdogs- nicely grilled, and
    1ft long; (and try the cheese-filled pretzels!).
    BTW: their nachos aren't the industrial variety,
    they're using real cheeze from regional co-ops,
    same as they do for the toppings on their pizza.
    Admission: $6 ages 12&up; $3 age 6-11; under5 free
    discount admission - $5.50 for adults before 8:30pm.

  • Richland Center (Richland County) Wisconsin
    Starlite 14 Drive-in:  608-647-3669
    located on Highway 14

    Solo screen, which has been lit-up since 1950 ..
    open seasonally, May thru October, on weekends only;
    screening double features, and also running frequent
    classic nites, when they light their screen with retro
    movies. There is also a FleaMkt SwapMeet
    which is held here on the weekends.

  • Shawano (Shawano County) Wisconsin
    Moonlight Drive-in Theatre:  715-524-3636
    located at 1494 East Green Bay Street  

    This was the second  Drive-in to open or re-open
    in Wisconsin in the first year of this Century - 2K
    (the first having been the Hiway 18, in Jefferson).
    It's also the only instance of an operating 'MoPed'
    cinema in Wisconsin (and is one of less than 10
    anywhere in America); where you will find a Motor
    theatre and a Pedestrian walk-in theatre running
    at the same location. The Drive-in operating here
    is a solo screen, being lit with a single feature
    (which is shown twice each nite);  seasonally.
    Admission:  $6.50 ages 12&up; $4.50 kids/srs.

  • Sister Bay (Door County) Wisconsin
    Skyway Drive-in Theatre:   920-854-9938
    located at 3475 State Highway 42

    Screening double features, 7 nites during the summer.
    Admission:  $6 age 12&up; $3 age 6-11;  5&under free.

  • Sparta (Monroe County) Wisconsin
    Sparta Highway 16 Drive-in:   DARK
    located at junction of I-90 & Highway 16
    (closed after the 1998 season)

 Wassau, Wisconsin

  • Wausau (Marathon County) Wisconsin
    Sky-Vue Drive-in Theatre:   715-241-0216
    located on Highway 29 East @ Hwy.J (8mi E. of I-5139)

    Another Wisconsin contribution to the Drive-in renaissance
    that we've been witnessing .. built from the ground up, the new
    Selby screen at the Sky-Vue was lit-up for the July 4th wknd '99
    and remains lit for Season 2001 (there are now 2 screens here).
    Audio is provided by FM stereo radio broadcast.   Admission:
    $6.50 for ages 12 & up, for both features;  under age 11 free.
    There is also a toll-free telephone number for those people
    calling from outside the immediate area:  877-998-0999

 Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin Dells (Columbia County) Wisconsin
    Big Sky Drive-in:  608-254-8025
    located on Highway 16 East (1mi SE of town)

    Old timers may remember this one as the Winnebago
    Drive-in, which opened back in 1950, as a solo screen.
    Now a twin, and re-christened the BigSky Drive-in, it
    has a capacity for about 400 cars between their two
    screens, each of them being lit with double features;
    seasonally, April thru September.  Audio provided with
    FM radio broadcast, plus some traditional Dr'in speakers.
    Admission: $6.50 age12&up; $3.50 age 6-11;  5&under free.

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

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