Monday, July 31, 2017

Family Fun at the 5 Drive-In

I imagine my parents must have brought me to a movie theatre at some point as a young child, but the first time I can remember going to one was to see "The Empire Strikes Back" with a group of friends in fourth grade. What I do remember of movie experiences with my parents is going to the Drive-In. We'd load into the back of our wood-paneled station wagon, often with a friend, or a cousin or two, and off we'd go, pillows and blankets on hand in case we couldn't make it through the second feature. Dad would roll down his window to attach the speaker box, we'd race to the concession stand to get our popcorn, and then cuddle up and enjoy. It was a huge treat, and I have wonderful memories of watching movies under the stars.

As a teen, I once again started going to that same Drive-In theatre, piling our crew into my friend's father's station wagon, or, eventually into another friend's actual, own car. Things were perhaps a little crazier in the car then, the movies were more mature, we listened on the radio instead of through a speaker, and just as much fun was had and as many memories made.

Sadly, that drive-in of my youth, back home in Newfoundland, has been gone for many years now. But here in Southern Ontario it's a different matter. Premier Theatres offers the drive-in experience at 5 locations, in Oakville, Newmarket, Hamilton, Barrie, and London. Last week I brought Michael along, at their invitation, to check out the 5 Drive-In, in Oakville. It was his first experience, and I was really excited to share it with him. I actually think he grew a little tired of my reminiscing :)

The 5 has 3 screens, with a double feature each night of the week, so I let Michael choose. I thought he'd go for Spider Man, but he chose Despicable Me 3 (really funny, by the way). We checked in at the ticket booth and they directed us to the correct screen. As I pulled up next to a post where a speaker once would have been, I naturally had to educate my son on the history of drive-ins. At this point he still seemed interested in my stories. Then we tuned the radio in to the station for our screen. (We were told the correct number at the ticket booth, but it was also listed right under the screen, just in case.) 
He had a blast
Michael is still a backseat passenger, so he was happy to sit up front for the movie. We pushed our seats back as far as they would go, reclined the backs, and settled in. He had a soft blanket for extra comfort.

There were clearly many veterans on hand, as we saw lots of families with their camp chairs and blankets, sitting outside their vehicles. Many with SUVs or vans backed into their spaces and opened their hatches so the kids could lie down with the pillows and enjoy the show. (Just be sure the hatch doesn't lift up higher than the top of the car in front of you.) There was even a pick-up truck with air mattresses and blankets in the back! These folks know how to do the drive-in right.

Naturally, we had to get some popcorn for the show. We were there on a weeknight, so the small concession stand at our screen wasn't open, but the main diner at screen one was. Everything is right together, so it was fine. The menu included hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, french fries, deep fried pickles, and more, served in combos or a la carte. We had already eaten so we opted for popcorn, cotton candy and pop. (Note - outside food is not allowed.)

At this time of year, the box office opens at 7:45 or so, and the first feature starts in the 9:00-9:30pm range. It has to be dark, after all! This means the second feature begins at 11:00pm or later. We didn't stay for the second film, mostly because I wasn't interested, but also because he was getting tired. However, I would suggest bringing your kids already in their pajamas and let them nap in the back seat if needed. The parents can watch the second movie while the kids sleep (like my parents did), or the kids can have the special treat of staying up super late and sleep in the car on the way home. If you decide to skip the second feature, that's no problem. There is an intermission between shows, and many cars took that opportunity to head out the night we were there. Likewise, if you only want to see the second feature, you can come just for that.

Why do I love a drive-in? Well, it's just such a different experience, seeing a movie out under the stars, and a real treat for the kids. It's less expensive than a movie theatre, which is a huge deal. Plus, you can be in your own private space and not have to worry about the person behind you kicking your seat, or the people talking through the movie a couple of rows away. I also enjoy the retro feel, and admit this is more about me reminiscing. The 5 Drive-In plays this up with classic 50's style animations and decor. Love it!

From the 5 Drive-In website
All the hot new releases are offered at the 5, with a new schedule each Friday. Near Oakville? Grab the family and give the kids a treat with a visit to the 5 Drive-In. And be sure to reminisce and share with them your memories of the drive-in movies when you were young. At the same time you'll be making wonderful new memories with them.


The 5 Drive-In is located at 2332 Ninth Line, in Oakville, ON. They are open 7 nights a week, from (roughly) April to December. General admission is $12 ($7 on Tuesdays), kids aged 5-12 are just $2, and under 5 are free. Come on a Thursday night and pay a flat $18 per car.

Visit the website at for current movies and screening times.

Get Social

Connect with the 5 Drive-In on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary movie tickets and a concession credit to facilitate this review. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own, or those of my family.

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