SUNDOWN at Southington Drive-in Theatre
The Drive-in boom here in the Nutmeg State peaked a decade later than in most of America's Drive-in states.
By the mid 1960's there were still more than 40 outdoor cinemas in Connecticut. On the other hand, since the heyday of Connecticut's Drive-ins, this state has suffered one of the highest attrition rates for any of the Drive-in states: a full 95% of its Drive-ins have gone dark, or have been demolished. But, as onetime Connecticut resident and showman, P.T. Barnum, was fond of saying- The Show must go on. And it does, at the three remaining Drive-ins, which we can still cherish, support, and seek to preserve.
INDICATES THAT A MOVIE SCHEDULE IS ALSO AVAILABLE
MANSFIELD (Tolland County) CT 06250
Mansfield Drive-in Theatre: 860-423-4441
located at 228 Stafford Road
(Junction of Routes 31 & 32)
The largest of Connecticut's remaining Drive-ins has three
screens and a capacity for parking nearly a thousand cars
(the original screen is the largest of the three: 110' wide).
The Mansfield is lit-up with double features on each screen
(also making a point of showing classic intermission trailers
and devoting at least 1 of their screens to family films only).
Their season runs April thru October; on weekends only during
spring & fall. All 3 screens are lit seven nites during peak Summer months. Movie audio is provided with a
localized FM radio broadcast. Admission: $10.00 for all ages 12 and above; $5 for children 4-11;
no charge for kids aged 3 and under (note that pets are not permitted at this Drive-in). Wednesday nite is
Carload Nite (during peak season), at which time $20 per car covers any number of passengers. |
GPS: Lat 41.7400029 Long -72.2598273
[!] The Mansfield Drive-in is also the home of one of Connecticut's largest Flea Markets; on Sundays (April-November) 8am-3pm; during which time their snack bar also serves breakfast & lunch.
Pleasant Valley (Litchfield County) CT 06063
Pleasant Valley Drive-in Theatre: 860-379-6102
located on River Road, C.R. 181
in Pleasant Valley (Barkhamsted)
off of State Route 44 between
Winsted and New Hartford, CT
OldTimers may remember this cute little Drive-in tucked
away off the path in western CT, as: The Rogers Corners Drive-in.
The smallest of Connecticut's remaining Drive-ins, it is also the
oldest CT Drive-in that remains in operation. Very pleasantly rural,
with a grassy field framed-in by a stand of tall pines, the aptly named
Pleasant Valley Drive-in can accomodate up to 250 cars in a time campsule
setting, somewhat reminiscent of summer camp and very reminiscent of the
circa 1940's Picture Show in smalltown America. This is an understated,
unpolished gem of a Drive-in experience, which preserves the presence of
the Past, allowing still a glimpse of that once-common rural small-town
American Drive-in. Movie audio is now provided with a localized FM radio
broadcast (87.9 FM) for its solo screen, which is usually lit April thru October
with a double-feature; on weekends in spring & fall, and then four nites a week (Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun)
during the peak Summer months. Admission: $8 per person for ages 12 and up;
$5 for children of ages 6-12; kids aged 5&under admitted free. A Carload Nite is
also offered (on Fridays during Spring and Fall; on Thursdays during peak Summer season);
when the admission is only $16 per car, regardless of the number of passengers. Well-behaved dogs
are accepted at this Drive-in Theatre.|
GPS: Lat 41.9130707 Long -72.9872437
[!] Expect that the Pleasant Valley Drive-in will be opening later than usual for Season 2014 (mid-to-late May, rather than late April), as the owners make the Industry mandated upgrade to digital projection.
Southington (Hartford County) CT 06479
Southington Drive-in Theatre: 860-628-2205
located 935 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike (Rte.322),
in Plantsville (Southington), CT
Originally lit back in 1954 as a solo screen Drive-in Movie Theatre, a 2nd outdoor screen was to be eventually added,
and the Southington would remain lit for almost half a century .. until eventually going dark in 2002. The story doesn't
end there (or worse), as the property was evetually acquired by the Town of Southington, the former Drive-in
Theatre venue becoming an annexed to Parks & Recreation facilities. In 2010 a local committee of volunteers
succeeded in reactivating a seasonal outdoor Picture Show on the premises. There's been some vocal griping
about the fact that it only operates now on a very ltd basis .. but from our our own p/o/v, it's better to
light a Drive-in than to curse the darkness! For Season 2014 Southington will be showing 1 movie a week after
dusk (revival screenings of well-known movies, not current releases), on Saturday evenings in June, July, and
August; with a couple of screenings slated for September & October. Admission: Southington residents pay $10 per carload
(regardless of the number of passengers); non-residents pay $15 per carload; and walk-ins pay $2 per person (if hoofing it, you'll
want to remember to bring along a lawn chair). The gate and Ticket Booths are open from 6 PM.|
GPS: Lat 41.56336 Long -72.8758677
[!] The Larger Picture: on each occasion that the Southington Drive-in operates, proceeds benefit a different community based organization, and these various civic orgs also take turns staffing this non profit Drive-in with volunteers.