4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Now, more than ever - let's all go to the drive-ins!

Governor okays 2 outdoor theaters to remain open

They're the last soldiers standing in what used to be a packed battlefield of screens, in a city that used to host over two dozen outdoor theaters, spread out all the way from the border to Oceanside.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that all indoor operations must temporarily cease for restaurants, wineries, family entertainment, zoos, museums, cardrooms, and movie theaters. However, both the South Bay Drive-In and the Santee Drive-In will be allowed to resume screenings, with new safety precautions in place.

Santee Drive-In courtesy Facebook

The Santee Drive-In at 10990 North Woodside Avenue was built in 1958 by James and Patti Henry, along with sometime partner and builder Walter Long. In 1961, the Santee was only charging $1.50 per carload, boosting attendance through 1963. A playground with a merry-go-round, swingsets, and monkey bars used to sit in the grass area beneath the screen, until rising insurance rates forced owners to remove all the equipment. Lawnchairs lined up in front of the screen were also removed, possibly to discourage pedestrian gate crashers, but also eliminating the need to landscape that part of the lot quite so meticulously.

By 1973, fortunes had downturned and the theater was screening X-rated triple features. That year, a second screen was added; for a time, features like Last House on the Left and Ned Kelly would show on one screen, while porn unspooled on the other. For a short time, there was even a drive-in church service on the lot every Sunday, while sex flicks screened at night, making for quite the eye-catching marquee.

A daytime swap meet began running on the lot in July 1982 (at the time, the Henrys formed a separate corporation to run this endeavor, but it was later owned by a separate unconnected party). Joe Crowder (who also owned drive-ins in Escondido and Oceanside that held swap meets) next ran the lot’s resale market. The swap meet's next operators featured monthly shows themed for ham-radio enthusiasts and sports-equipment traders.

With two 1.85:1-ratio screens facing each other and room for 700 cars, it's been many years since they took out the last two rows of speakers on poles and began broadcasting films in FM sound. The orange-painted bathrooms used to be a little dicey, but their snack-bar food is more than edible and very affordable.

Though there is a scarcity of new releases, older films are being trotted out for double features on both screens. Starting Friday, July 17, they'll be showing Palm Springs with Relic on one screen and The Goonies with My Spy on the other.

The South Bay Drive-In, open since 1958 at 2170 Coronado Avenue, sits one mile north of the border, with space for up to 1500 cars. It was another William Oldknow/Sero Amusements venture, still run by Oldknow's company, now called De Anza Land & Leisure Corporation, which opened San Diego's second drive-in, the Rancho, and operated several others. Originally called the Bayview and sporting a single screen, in the mid-'70s the South Bay added two more screens. Most of the speaker poles were phased out for AM sound in 1972, and then FM beginning in the early '80s (movies are currently broadcast in stereo, via FM only). The snack bar has been renovated a few times, most recently sporting a nautical theme, with the entire concession building painted blue and white and designed to resemble a ship, portholes and all.

South Bay entrance 1999 - Drive-In Theatre Fan Club 1999 Yearbook

The same company also runs the six-screen Redwood in Salt Lake City, the four-screen Mission in Pomona, the four-screen De Anza in Tucson, and the three-screen Van Buren and three-screen Rubidoux in Riverside, California. The De Anza company really goes all out for the Starlight Drive-In near Atlanta. This well-advertised ozone regularly hosts pop-culture conventions and car shows on its lot during the day, and frequent "Drive-In Madness" theme-athons (often with live band performances) run all night long.

A swap meet started up on the lot in April 1977, operated by the drive-in's owners rather than being leased out as at other area ozones. It appears to have been the area's third drive-in swap meet (Midway began leasing to Monte Kobey's swap meet the previous summer, and the Valley Drive-In held an Oceanside flea market as far back as 1971).

The main screen number one at the South Bay blew down during the early 2003 winter storms and had to be replaced that spring, at a cost of around $60,000. In summer 2005, a new Technalight installation was done on the projectors for all three South Bay screens. It may be the only drive-in in the U.S. to serve menudo.

The South Bay is rotating features such as Archive, Palm Springs, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and others. Their website lists five days' worth of programming at time, with new schedules posted weekly on Wednesdays for that Friday through the following Thursday.

On July 25, they'll screen the recent Blake Shelton drive-in concert film that also features Gwen Stefani and Trace Adkins.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

31 thousand lawsuits pile up in Tijuana

Shamanata goes to Mexico City after her kids

They're the last soldiers standing in what used to be a packed battlefield of screens, in a city that used to host over two dozen outdoor theaters, spread out all the way from the border to Oceanside.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that all indoor operations must temporarily cease for restaurants, wineries, family entertainment, zoos, museums, cardrooms, and movie theaters. However, both the South Bay Drive-In and the Santee Drive-In will be allowed to resume screenings, with new safety precautions in place.

Santee Drive-In courtesy Facebook

The Santee Drive-In at 10990 North Woodside Avenue was built in 1958 by James and Patti Henry, along with sometime partner and builder Walter Long. In 1961, the Santee was only charging $1.50 per carload, boosting attendance through 1963. A playground with a merry-go-round, swingsets, and monkey bars used to sit in the grass area beneath the screen, until rising insurance rates forced owners to remove all the equipment. Lawnchairs lined up in front of the screen were also removed, possibly to discourage pedestrian gate crashers, but also eliminating the need to landscape that part of the lot quite so meticulously.

By 1973, fortunes had downturned and the theater was screening X-rated triple features. That year, a second screen was added; for a time, features like Last House on the Left and Ned Kelly would show on one screen, while porn unspooled on the other. For a short time, there was even a drive-in church service on the lot every Sunday, while sex flicks screened at night, making for quite the eye-catching marquee.

A daytime swap meet began running on the lot in July 1982 (at the time, the Henrys formed a separate corporation to run this endeavor, but it was later owned by a separate unconnected party). Joe Crowder (who also owned drive-ins in Escondido and Oceanside that held swap meets) next ran the lot’s resale market. The swap meet's next operators featured monthly shows themed for ham-radio enthusiasts and sports-equipment traders.

With two 1.85:1-ratio screens facing each other and room for 700 cars, it's been many years since they took out the last two rows of speakers on poles and began broadcasting films in FM sound. The orange-painted bathrooms used to be a little dicey, but their snack-bar food is more than edible and very affordable.

Though there is a scarcity of new releases, older films are being trotted out for double features on both screens. Starting Friday, July 17, they'll be showing Palm Springs with Relic on one screen and The Goonies with My Spy on the other.

The South Bay Drive-In, open since 1958 at 2170 Coronado Avenue, sits one mile north of the border, with space for up to 1500 cars. It was another William Oldknow/Sero Amusements venture, still run by Oldknow's company, now called De Anza Land & Leisure Corporation, which opened San Diego's second drive-in, the Rancho, and operated several others. Originally called the Bayview and sporting a single screen, in the mid-'70s the South Bay added two more screens. Most of the speaker poles were phased out for AM sound in 1972, and then FM beginning in the early '80s (movies are currently broadcast in stereo, via FM only). The snack bar has been renovated a few times, most recently sporting a nautical theme, with the entire concession building painted blue and white and designed to resemble a ship, portholes and all.

South Bay entrance 1999 - Drive-In Theatre Fan Club 1999 Yearbook

The same company also runs the six-screen Redwood in Salt Lake City, the four-screen Mission in Pomona, the four-screen De Anza in Tucson, and the three-screen Van Buren and three-screen Rubidoux in Riverside, California. The De Anza company really goes all out for the Starlight Drive-In near Atlanta. This well-advertised ozone regularly hosts pop-culture conventions and car shows on its lot during the day, and frequent "Drive-In Madness" theme-athons (often with live band performances) run all night long.

A swap meet started up on the lot in April 1977, operated by the drive-in's owners rather than being leased out as at other area ozones. It appears to have been the area's third drive-in swap meet (Midway began leasing to Monte Kobey's swap meet the previous summer, and the Valley Drive-In held an Oceanside flea market as far back as 1971).

The main screen number one at the South Bay blew down during the early 2003 winter storms and had to be replaced that spring, at a cost of around $60,000. In summer 2005, a new Technalight installation was done on the projectors for all three South Bay screens. It may be the only drive-in in the U.S. to serve menudo.

The South Bay is rotating features such as Archive, Palm Springs, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and others. Their website lists five days' worth of programming at time, with new schedules posted weekly on Wednesdays for that Friday through the following Thursday.

On July 25, they'll screen the recent Blake Shelton drive-in concert film that also features Gwen Stefani and Trace Adkins.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Twelfth Night Shakespeare Reading, Covid-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials

Events November 29-December 2, 2020
Next Article

Freemont cottonwoods along the San Diego River

Egrets, herons, terns start feeding in San Diego's wetlands
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close