Oklahoma, USA: Watch an Outdoor Movie at One of the Drive-In Theaters of Oklahoma

Photos: Wesley Horton. Oklahoma got a late start as a venue for outdoor theaters, in the 40's, whereas several of the American states were already hosting one or more Drive-in theaters during the 1930's. But by the end of the Second World War however, there were a couple dozen Drive-ins open showing outdoor movies in The Sooner State, and in the course of the next ten years, as if making-up for lost time, Oklahoma would have four times that number... nearly a hundred. Since its heyday as one of the better Drive-in states, in Oklahoma as elsewhere across the land, the majority of the Drive-ins have gone dark or been demolished. Meanwhile in contrast to most other states, the rate of decline was not as steep here as elsewhere. For example, twenty years after its 1955 peak - in the mid 70's, Oklahoma was still hosting more than 70 Drive-in theaters. At present, attrition has reached 91% - 9 remain open. Chickasha (Grady County) Oklahoma Chief Drive-in: 405-224-1515 Located on Rural Route 2 (south of town) Open weekends only Fri-Sat-Sun screening double features. Admission: $5 adults; ages 12 and under admitted in free; Sunday nite is carload nite ($12/carload). Outdoor Movies at Oklahoma's Drive-In TheatersGuthrie (Logan County) Oklahoma Beacon Drive-in: 405-282-4512 Located at 2404 South Division Street The Beacon opened-up in 1950 and has been operated continuously in central Oklahoma by the Powell family for half a century; handed down through three generations. Open 7 nites during peak season (Memorial Day - LaborDay); and on the weekends only September and October. Screening single features each nite; with traditional Drive-in speakers and a local vicinity FM radio broadcast for soundtracks. Admission:$4 for each adult; free admission for children age 11 & under. You'll find them 15 minutes north of Edmond (exit 153 on I-35). McAlester (Pittsburg County) Oklahoma Cinema 69 Drive-in Theatre: 918-423-6969 Located on the Highway 69 bypass During the heyday of the American Drive-in, there were several Drive-ins in McAlester and general vicinity. This was the last of them to be built (1973), and it was erected in conjunction with an indoor cinema on premises. Over the years since, the expansion of the indoor cinema to a quad, has encroached on the parking lot, cutting the capacity to where McAlester now qualifies as smallest of Oklahoma's remaining Drive-ins. Also, owing to the existence of a local curfew, double features are not as common as they once were, and most screenings here are now single features. Audio is FM (89.3) radio.Cinema69 is the the only instance in America of an indoor and an outdoor cinema sharing the same projection room (they also share the same snackbar). Admission: $4 for adults; children under 12 who are with an adult will be admitted here at no charge. Outdoor Movies at Oklahoma's Drive-In TheatersOklahoma City (Oklahoma County) Oklahoma Winchester Drive-in: 405-631-8851 Located at 6930 S. Western Avenue This is the only Oklahoma Drive-in screening triple features on a regular basis. Their season runs from April - October; weekends only during spring and fall, and lit-up all 7 nites during peak summer season. Their gates open up at 7:30PM, a good thing, since it's advisable to get here early on weekends. Admission: $5 for each adult; $2 for kids aged 4 - 10 years. You'll find them within a ten minute drive of either the fastlane (I-40), or Memory Lane (Route 66); though we reccomend Rte.66, which just works so well with that ol' neon cowboy presiding over the Winchester's entrance. Poteau (Le Flore County) Oklahoma Tower Drive-in: 918-647-3606 Located on Highway 271 North The same owners have a 3-screen indoor cinema in addition to the single-screen Tower, which is lit with a single feature movie each of seven nites during their peak summer season; weekends only during spring and fall; audio provided by FM radio. Admission: $4 for adults (age12&up); $2 for kids 3-11. Outdoor Movies at Oklahoma's Drive-In TheatersPonca City (Kay County) Oklahoma Airline Drive-in: 580-765-4000 Located at 1800 West Highland Avenue (@ Waverly) Situated in north-central Oklahoma a short spell from the Oklahoma/Kansas state line, the Airline Drive-in was named for its close proximity to the Ponca City Municipal Airport. Revived - after having been used for 12 years as a cattle feed lot, the Airline Drive-in has a capacity for up to 500 cars and screens double features every nite of the week during peak summer season, and on weekends during the spring and fall. Movie audio is provided via FM radio broadcasting. Admission: $4.50 for adults; $3 for children. Tahlequah (Cherokee County) Oklahoma Tahlequah Drive-in: 918-456-4015 Located on Highway 82 (North of the city) Oklahoma's oldest remaining Drive-in has been in operation seasonally since 1949, can accomodate just over 200 cars and alternates between screening single and double features of current releases. Admission: $4 per adult; $2 for children. Outdoor Movies at Oklahoma's Drive-In TheatersTulsa (Tulsa County) Oklahoma Admiral Twin Drive-in: 918-835-5181 Two screens; located at 7355 E. Easton (north of I-244) Oklahoma's largest Drive-in is a twin screen venue with a capacity for more than a thousand cars, which opened originally as a single screen in 1951 called The Modernaire. A second picture show and additional parking was added by new owners who had renamed it The Admiral. Their West screen has traditional speakers as well as a local vicinity radio broadcast for the movies' soundtrack, while their East screen has radio sound only; and they are screening double features East and West. Admission: $5.50 adults; free admission for kids under 11 years of age. Weatherford (Custer County) Oklahoma 66 Twin Drive-in: 580-774-2428 Located on Route 66 Revived by the same owners who have Weatherford's Showest-3 indoor cinema, the 66 Twin Drive-in is one of Oklahoma's two recent revivals, and the only one of the two that remains in operation for Season 2K (the other, Sapulpa's Teepee closed again after '99). Lit-up 7 nites in peak season, they're screening double features on each of their twin "East" and "West" screens. Admission: $4.75 for each adult; $3 for students & seniors; and free admission for for children 5 years of age & under. Source: http://www.driveinmovie.com/OK.htm.

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