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: $10 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 $20 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. The Opening for Season 2004 is expected to be the weekend of May 16th-17th.
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.