Check Out These Drive-In Movie Theaters Near Philly
Just pull in, and pull out your popcorn.
Let’s set the scene: You and four of your friends are driving in your Corolla, snacks in tow, to a massive parking lot in The Navy Yard to catch a movie. It’s the first one you’ve seen on a screen larger than your laptop since January and the whole occasion feels like a thrill ride.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown wrenches into everyone’s plans this year, creative workarounds have provided opportunities for us to experience the world at an arm’s length (or two). Of course, the concept of a drive-in movie theater is nothing new, but this summer and fall, the retro moviegoing experience is a lifeline when all in-person gathering is extremely limited.
Luckily, there are plenty of drive-in experiences within the city itself and just a short drive away. Save your gas and grab a mask -- it’s time to head to the drive-in.
Drive up for double features on the cheap: $10 tickets for adults and $7 for kids. This family-run drive-in screens a variety of flicks, from action to family-friendly out in the Lehigh Valley. The concession stand and bathrooms are open -- mask up before frequenting -- and you can sit in the immediate area outside of your car. No online ticketing here: You’ll have to purchase your tickets at the door.
Distance from Philly: 1 hour, 30 minutes
This Scranton drive-in has been hosting movies and live concerts since the 1950s. Upcoming live concerts include Blackberry Smoke on September 13 and Smith & Myers on September 18. Movie selections run the gamut from Hollywood blockbusters to classics. Concessions and bathrooms will be available, but masks are mandatory. Movie tickets are $5-8 per person.
Distance from Philly: 2 hours, 30 minutes
While an art museum isn’t the first place you’d picture a drive-in theater, the Delaware Art Museum repurposes its sculpture garden to host drive-in movies a few times a month. Catch Pulp Fiction on September 3 and The Maltese Falcon on September 17. Basic tickets include a soft drink and popcorn ($19 a person), while other packages include candy and beer (up to $32 a person). Bathrooms are available and masks are a must.
Distance from Philly: About 40 minutes
Vineland, New Jersey
A local staple long before the pandemic, the Delsea Drive-In has been bringing outdoor movies to the masses on and off since 1949. Film selections include throwback hits, family-friendly movies, horror classics, and more through October. Tickets for each double feature must be purchased online ahead of time and cost $11-20 per person. You can bring in your own grub (you’ll have to pay for a food permit) or order concessions online ahead of time. Sitting in the bed of a pickup, on chairs directly in front of your vehicle, or in an open back hatch is permitted, but remember to keep space between other cars. Keep your mask on if you leave the immediate vicinity of your car.
Distance from Philly: About 45 minutes
While Citizens Bank Park sits empty inside, the parking lot outside will turn into a drive-in venue. Artists like Dark Star Orchestra (September 5 and 6) and comedian Michael Blackson (September 7) will perform live while you enjoy from the comfort of your car. You can bring non-alcoholic drinks and prepared food, but there’ll also be food and bevs for sale. Remain in your car unless you’re taking a masked trip to the loo or concession area. Each ticket, running between $99.50-395, gets entry for your carful of four people.
Distance from Philly: None! It’s at Citizens Bank Park
For over half a century, this drive-in has been screening films reel-to-reel via original 1940s Simplex projectors. Catch expertly paired double features like Phantom of the Opera and Werewolf of London in September and Clueless and Mean Girls in October. Enjoy the films from inside, on top of, or directly in front of your car. Tickets will cost you $7-10 a person and masks are required while making a run to the bathroom or concession stand.
Distance from Philly: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Mid-Atlantic Event Group is hosting drive-in concerts and movie screenings at parks in the nearby ‘burbs. A slate of concerts are planned for Labor Day Weekend in Bucks County and special Halloween screenings of Hocus Pocus are set for October in Falls Township Community Park and Yardley’s Memorial Park. Admission is $30 per vehicle for movies and between $50 and $125 per vehicle for concerts, the latter of which you’ll get extra space to tailgate.
Distance from Philly: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Freehold, New Jersey
Freehold’s indoor amusement park iPlay America opens its parking lot to a drive-in movie experience. Come for family hits like Jumanji: The Last Level on September 10 and How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World on September 18. Just pay $25 and your whole car gets entry. Food and alcoholic beverages will be for sale, too. You can sit on chairs and blankets in the area in front of your car. Be sure to wear a mask if you walk away from your viewing area to grab a snack.
Distance from Philly: 1 hour
Newark, New Jersey
Located at the former Newark Bears Baseball Stadium in Newark’s downtown district, with space for 350 cars, Newark Moonlight Cinema brings a curated selection of films highlighting African American filmmakers, actors and actresses. Open through early October, the drive-in offers snacks and drinks, and you must wear a mask whenever you’re outside of your car. Tickets will run you $8-12 a person.
Distance from Philly: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Philadelphia Film Society screens are dark no more! The local arts nonprofit dedicates 200 parking spots in the Navy Yard to a socially distanced, drive-in experience. Through October, expect screenings of new releases, cult classics, indie hits, family flicks, as well as selections from the Philadelphia Film Festival. Tickets must be purchased in advance online (they’ll run you $7-12 per person) and you must remain in your car for the duration of the film except to run to the bathroom -- for that, you’ll need to mask up. Feel free to bring your own snacks.
Distance from Philly: None! It’s in the Navy Yard
West Fairmount Park
The Mann Center is hosting a number of free drive-in screenings in a grassy field in Fairmount Park. Reserve your tickets online in advance and catch projections of School of Rock (September 9 and 11) and the live-action The Lion King (September 16 and 18). Food will be available for purchase and the first 100 visitors will get free frozen goodies from Dre’s Homemade Water Ice & Ice Cream. Similar to the rules at other drive-ins, you must stay in your vehicle at all times and wear a mask when visiting the bathroom or food area.
Distance from Philly: None! It’s at the Mann Center
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