Home / The Rundown / In Photos: Ocala Drive-In Theatre Still Shows Films After More Than 50 Years

In Photos: Ocala Drive-In Theatre Still Shows Films After More Than 50 Years

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The Ocala Drive-In Theatre in Belleview brings the Americana experience of old drive-in theaters to a new generation.

Though the drive-in first opened in 1948, it has closed, reopened and changed hands several times since then. It’s also had many updates since it first opened, including new projectors, projector bulbs, screen paint and sound systems.

“Nostalgia. A lot of nostalgia here,” said Nancy Bigi, a cashier who currently works at the drive-in and who worked there in the ’70s and ’80s. “It brings back old memories, [for me] and the new generation,” Bigi said.

Like a drive-thru restaurant, you pay at the first window and then pull forward. The inside of the theater is a field with two screens on opposing ends with a projector booth and concession building in the center.

Typically, the drive-in shows two movies in one session for $6 per adult. A refurbished concession building offers the Ms. Pac-Man arcade game and snacks for movie-goers. The concession building also has several painted murals on each wall to enhance the retro aesthetic.

The large grassy area and a larger arcade present opportunities for fun for the whole family. When the drive-in isn’t showing movies, it hosts flea markets in its 20-acre field.

The grand entrance to the Ocala Drive-In still stands after 50 years. Behind the sign is one of two projection screens it uses to show movies. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

Elementary-schoolers Jacob Beckman (left) and Carter McGreal (right) run around and play games in front of the screen before the movie starts. Their parents looked on from a distance making sure they were being safe but still burning off energy. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

Mother-son duo Christine and Matthew Hammond play some arcade games in the arcade room beneath the main projection screen before the movie. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

One of the projectors plays ads and trailers before the movie. The projectors, projection screens and sound systems have been replaced over time. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

Friends Bay Goad, Santa Fe student, and Bridgette Hattle, University of Florida student, hang out in front of the many ’50s inspired murals at the theater. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

As the sun set and the temperatures dipped, couple Carissa Cook and Ethan Pearson cuddle up in the back of their car before the movie begins. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

One of the screens from the other side of the field plays trailers. Each car is able to tune into a specific radio station in order have its own surround sound experience during the screenings. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

Braden Nelson, 4, reaches with all his might to play a demo version of Ms. Pac-Man. He ran between Ms. Pac-Man and his dad at the snack counter balancing his game and his food. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

Patrons of the Ocala Drive-In Theatre flock to the concession stand for anything from hot dogs to pretzels, candy and soda pop. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT)

 

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