Entertainment Magazine News Volume 70, Issue 3

Drive-In Movies: A Blast from the Past

by Caroline Johnston

Graphic by Emma Cypressi

Going to the drive-in movies felt like time traveling to the past. I pulled up to the ticket window at the West Wind Solano Drive-In in Concord to purchase my tickets, which are only $5.50 on Tuesdays because it’s “family night,” and are otherwise $8.50. Then, I drove through the parking lot, over all of the cement hills that allow the cars to be angled up towards the screen, and I parked my car. I tuned into the radio station that was printed on my receipt, grabbed my slice of pie that I brought, climbed into the back of my truck and settled in, waiting for the movie to begin. Everybody’s speakers were blasting, so when the previews began, most people had to adjust their volume in attempts to avoid a funky, echoing sound effect among all the cars. 

Since I know you all are dying to know what movie I saw, I won’t hold you in suspense any longer. I saw Monsters Inc., and I have no regrets, so don’t judge me. I may have been the only teenager there, with the exception of my friend who was on a date 3 rows behind me and my fellow Page staff member who accompanied me. We were surrounded by 4-year-olds and their parents; however, I was enjoying myself too much to be self-conscious. 

Although I’m sure most of you have already seen this childhood classic, I am still going to give the film a little review for those who are waiting to see it for the first time. The film balances comedy with sentiment perfectly, which makes it appeal to children and parents alike. The characters were unique, and the plot was intriguing enough to keep a 3-year-old entertained. The film seemed very short to me, which I suppose was strategic because it is mainly geared towards children with short attention spans, but I was extremely comfortable as I was wrapped in fuzzy blankets and was disappointed when the movie ended. Overall, Monsters Inc. was very good, and even if you are 17 and have yet to see the film, it is worth watching. 

With indoor movie theaters being closed for months and months due to COVID, the drive-in movies seem to have had a decent increase in popularity because they are much more COVID-friendly than the traditional movie theater. Although the Walnut Creek Cinemark is now open, many people are not comfortable attending an indoor movie yet. Some of the safety precautions at the drive-in include the requirement to wear a mask when you are outside of your car and that cars must be parked a minimum of 10 feet away from each other. I do suggest that you arrive early, especially if you’re attending a weekend showing, because there have been extremely long lines and they are letting in a limited number of cars in, in an attempt to keep the cars as spread out as possible, so there is a chance that you will get turned away if you show up too late. Showtimes are available on their website. The drive-ins primarily play classics, such as Monsters Inc., but they have premiered some new movies as well in lieu of premiering in indoor theaters. I advise that you bring more blankets than you may think necessary because it has been getting quite chilly at night, and it is hard to enjoy the drive-in experience if you’re developing a case of hypothermia. My final tip is to bring a pillow – your head and neck will thank me. Overall, attending the drive-in movies is a great experience, and it felt like an escape from the modern era because not much has changed at the drive-in since it was first built.