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.
After Irma and as the holidays approach, Alachua County residents utilize the 2017 Strike Out Hunger Food Drive and Farm Share, a large-scale food bank that utilzies inmate labor and volunteers to distribute food across Florida for free.