In the mood for a movie but tired of being cooped up at home? Drive-in theaters (both pop-up and permanent) are operating across the metro Phoenix areas, filling the void left after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered traditional indoor cinemas for the time being.
Are there are more on the way. (Wal-Mart recently announced it's launching a drive-in series at locations nationwide in August and September.)
Each theater has a variety of safety and social distancing rules, including requiring you to wear a mask or stay in your car, allowing you peace of mind while enjoying a night out at the movies. Here’s where you can go in the Valley to find a flick from now until the end of summer.
Starlight Movie NightBig Surf, 1500 North McClintock Drive, Tempe, 480-994-2297
The parking lot of the popular local water park will transform into an outdoor cinema on select weekends, complete with an enormous inflatable screen and high-definition FM transmitter. Vehicles will be parked on a first-come, first-served basis with larger rides like SUV arranged along the rear and sides of the lot.
Patrons must practice social distancing at all times and wear masks while outside of their cars. Sitting in pickup beds will be allowed but not in the cargo areas of vehicles with hatchbacks. Group sizes cannot exceed the number of safety belts. Concessions and restrooms will be available. Parking opens at 6 p.m. and screenings are at 8 p.m. Tickets are only available online and are $29.99 per carload or $49.99 with a snack pack consisting of two medium popcorns, two boxes of candy, and four drinks.
The movie lineup is as follows:
Friday, July 24: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Saturday, July 25: The Goonies
Sunday, July 26: Bad Boys for Life
West Wind Glendale 95650 North 55th Avenue, Glendale, 623-939-9715
The Valley's only permanent drive-in has double features showing nightly on nine screens. It also has strict rules for all patrons, including parking 6 feet from other vehicles and donning face coverings when not sitting in your car.
Lawn chairs and other seating are allowed, but only if they situated either in front or behind each vehicle. Sitting in pickup beds and cargo areas is also cool. The West Wind’s snack bar has limited items for purchase. You’ll have to maintain 6 feet of distance from others, which also applies to those waiting to use the restrooms.
Gates open at 7 p.m. each night with showings starting at 7:45 p.m. General admission is $7.75 for adults, $1.75 for children 5 to 11, and free for kids 4 and under. (There’s also a “Family Fun Night” on Tuesday with discounted admission.)
The current schedule can be found on the West Wind’s website and Facebook page. Special screenings include actor Michael B. Jordan’s free “A Night At The Drive-In” series, which will take place biweekly Wednesday nights through late August. The lineup includes Hook and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on July 29; Do the Right Thing and Get Out on August 12; and Coming to America and Girls Trip on August 26. As we said, there's no cost to attend, but you'll have to download passes here since space is limited.
Digital Drive-In AZ1901 North Alma School Road, Mesa, 480-308-1515
Digital Drive-In AZ may have closed down its Lake Pleasant location, but the original theater in Mesa is still going strong. There are movies on tap Tuesday through Sunday, ranging from such old-school flicks as The Fox and the Hound to modern-day fare like Men in Black International. One film is screened per evening on a 24-foot-high LED screen with the soundtrack broadcast by a low-power FM transmitter.
Every vehicle gets its own 12-foot-by-20-foot stall, which is surrounded by security barriers and ropes. The drive-in also has porta-potties sanitized by attendants after each use and a contactless ticketing system with phones and printed tickets scanned through the car window.
Admission is $22 per vehicle. Movies start at 7:35 p.m. A snack pack with popcorn and various prepackaged candy (read: RedVines, AirHeads, and M&Ms) is available for $10. A beverage pack with four bottles of either Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, or water is $12. (Both can be purchased online.) Digital Drive-In AZ’s latest schedule is available on its website and Facebook.
The Drive-In at Schnepf Farms24810 East Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek, 480-987-3100
Schnepf Farms has been offering a mix of “your all-time favorite movies and the good ol' classics” multiple nights per week since April. Most of the usual rules apply: staggered parking, sitting inside vehicles or in truck beds, and socially distancing while using restrooms. According to their website, they aren’t mandating face coverings (“Because we are outdoors, masks are not required”) and people have to bring their own snacks.
Thursdays feature animated films while Fridays will be movies of the action, adventure, and rom-com variety. Family flicks will be shown on Saturdays with crowd-pleasing classics on Sundays. Screenings are from 8 to 10 p.m. There’s a $15 “parking fee” to attend, which is available online, and only 60 spaces will be available each night.
Here’s the upcoming schedule:
Friday July 17: Chocolate
Saturday, July 18: A Dogs Way Home
Sunday, July 19: Annie
Thursday, July 23: Trolls
Friday, August 1: Mamma Mia!
Drive-In Movie Night at the PrincessFairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale, 480-585-4848
This posh Scottsdale resort is bringing back its drive-in movie night for the rest of the summer. Screenings will take place every Saturday night in The Fairmont’s valet parking lot with animated and kid-friendly films being featured. They’ll also have an intermission with a complimentary fireworks show.
Safety guidelines include parking at least 10 feet from others and staying inside your vehicle unless you’re heading to the restrooms. Alcohol consumption won’t be allowed on the premises. (Additional rules can be found here.)
Parking begins at 7 p.m. with a preshow at 7:30 p.m. and films starting at 8:05 p.m. The fireworks take place halfway through the film. Tickets are $40 per car and include popcorn, two bags of cotton candy, and four bottles of water.
Here’s the upcoming schedule:
Saturday, July 11: The Angry Birds Movie 2
Saturday, July 18: The Addams Family (2019)
Saturday, August 1: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Saturday, August 8: Arctic Dogs
Saturday, August 15: The Lion King (2019)
Saturday, August 22: Dumbo (2019)
Saturday, August 29: Trolls
Pop Up EventsWestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480-312-6802
One of the most recent additions to the drive-in scene is this outdoor theater at WestWorld, which features a 32-by-16-foot LED screen and movies on Friday and Saturday nights. Food and drinks from M Culinary Concepts will be available for purchase. Cars will be parked at least 10 feet from each other, a contactless ticketing system will be used, and the staff will be wearing masks. According to the venue’s website, restrooms are located indoors and will be cleaned and sanitized throughout the night.
In early August, the theater will host the Game On Mega Drive In, a two-night geek event that includes a film inspired by video games each evening.
Start times and ticket prices vary. Upcoming screenings and events include the following:
July 17: Footloose (2011), 7:45 p.m., $15
July 18: Moana, 7:45 p.m., $15
July 24: Grease, 7:45 p.m., $15
July 25: The Lion King (2019), 7:45 p.m., $15
July 31: Retro Metro Drive-In feat. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, 6 p.m., $20
August 7: Game On Mega Drive In feat. The Wizard, 6 p.m., $40
August 8: Game On Mega Drive In feat. Max Reload and the Nether Blasters, 6 p.m., $40
Summer Drive-In MoviesApache Junction Rodeo Grounds, 1590 East Lost Dutchman Boulevard, Apache Junction
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Apache Junction’s Parks and Recreation Department is putting on this summer-long film series. Park your ride on the dirt lot at the city’s rodeo grounds and kick back for an evening of family-oriented films. (There’s also the added value of picturesque views of the Superstition Mountains in the distance.)
You’ll be asked to park a short distance away from cars and can sit outside, provided you allow enough space between yourself and others. Audio will be played through loudspeakers. Gates open at 7 p.m. with films starting at 7:45 p.m. It’s $7 per vehicle to attend and you’re required to register in advance. Click here for more details (search for "drive-in movies").
Upcoming screenings include the following:
Saturday, July 25: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Saturday, August 8: The Lion King (2019)
Saturday, August 22: Frozen II