Doug Knights Little Renaissance
The drive-in movie is one of the few pleasures in life designed with the whole family in mind. Traditionally a double-bill, the first show targets the kids, after which they (theoretically) lapse into slumber. Intermission features the vintage concession promo with the dancing soda pops and acrobatic hot dog. The second flick is geared toward a slightly more mature audience, but not much.
"We're not going to show anything rated R out here--the raciest we're going to get is PG-13," says Doug Knight, owner of Springfield's only outdoor cinema, the Route 66 Drive-in. "We see moms and dads drive in here with kids in the back dressed in the little jammies that have the feet in them. That kind of stuff just warms your heart."
Knight, who also owns the neighboring Knight's Action Park, spent about five years considering what to do with the drive-in, which had opened in 1978 and promptly closed two years later. "Drive-ins died off about the time cable TV and VCRs came out," he says.
But Knight and his co-owners began to notice a miniature resurgence in these giant-screen theaters. Even though they kept hearing of drive-ins closing around the nation, they also started hearing of drive-ins re-opening. "There's a little renaissance going on with drive-ins," Knight says.
Last summer was their first try with the Route 66 Drive-in, and it was enough of a success that they're investing more into this year. They have purchased a swing set and a pair of "those little springy animals" and they're hoping to find a merry-go-round to make a small playground for the kids. Next summer, they may add a slide, and possibly even open the second movie screen. "It depends on the financial situation," Knight says.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy the line-up of movies for this month:
May 2-4: Kangaroo Jack / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
May 9-11: Agent Cody Banks / Die Another Day
May 16-18: Piglet's Big Movie / Bringing Down the House
May 23-29: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers / Daredevil
May 30-June 5: The Wild Thornberrys Movie / The Core
The first feature begins shortly after sundown (about 7:45 p.m.), and sound is broadcast over FM radio. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 3-12. Sunday night is "carload night," when admission is $10 per carload (the number of people the car was designed to hold). In May and September, the drive-in is open only on weekends. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the drive-in will be open nightly.
The drive-in is located off Old Chatham Road, just south of I-72.