A couple of weekends ago, we had a yard sale. If you have a yard, I recommend it. It is a good way to get rid of some old stuff and make a little money. You won’t get rich… you might not even make your hourly wage. However, we met some neighbors and learned a lot of tips. We learned two tips from someone who stopped by for less than two minutes… and she didn’t buy a thing. Without looking at what we had to offer she asked if we had two things, an older shredder (without cross-cut), and an old boombox.
I was confused by the shredder. Why would someone want a security device, with obsolete security features? The answer… she’s into crafts and the straight old shredders are great for making filler for gift baskets. When we told her we didn’t have one she moved on to the boombox. There are a number of reasons why one might want a radio, so we didn’t ask, but she offered… “they are great for drive-ins.” Whoa, there are drive-ins near Silicon Valley where a two-bedroom fixer-upper can run you $700K?!?! That just didn’t compute to us.
My wife and I did some research and found out that there is indeed a drive-in movie theater in San Jose – about a half hour from where we live. We did a little more research and decided to go the following night. We found it an outstanding value for the following reasons:
- Cheap Tickets – It was $6.75 a person for first run movies. We saw Iron Man 2, but we could have seen Sex and the City on the opening weekend… but I wasn’t having any of that. Kids under 5 are free. Kids from 5-11 are only $1.
- Double Features – Each ticket is for two movies. We could have stayed after Iron Man to see Date Night, but we got tired. We’ll bring the coffee and soda next time (the second feature started at after 11PM).
- Cheap Concessions – While popcorn is still $4.50 for a bigger-than-a-toddler sized “small”, there were deals to be had. For instance, their burritos are handmade to order for $5.75… and they are a meal. It would ranked in my top five all-time burrito values (I’m a huge burrito fan), if the person making my burrito wasn’t being trained to make his first ever. It fell apart when I got to eating it, but even with a fork and knife it was good.
- No Need for Concessions – It’s a drive-in. Bring your own cooler. Pack a picnic-dinner or bring a pizza or sub with you. Bring your own soda…
- …or Beer – It’s against the drive-in policy, but you could easily bring your own beer or wine. No one is going to see anything in your car at 9PM and no one was policing the theater anyway. I’m not saying you should break the policy, just that I think you could without repercussions. Of course, as with any drinking, standard disclaimers apply: be safe, designate a driver.
- Family Friendly – They had a number of kid-friendly movies. Add in the kid prices of free or $1 and it’s a steal.
- Pet Friendly – We didn’t know that it was going to be pet-friendly, but we’ll bring our dog next time. It’s a big selling point for us because we don’t like to leave him alone for too long at night.
- Extra Comfy – We don’t have a flatbed truck, but a number of other people did. They inflated an air mattress, pulled out some blankets and pillows and had probably the most comfortable movie watching experience possible.
It’s not all rainbows and puppy dogs, though. The drive-in isn’t a place to watch Avatar. There’s no 3-D option and the audio is pumped through your own car radio with a noticeable hiss. I got used to the hiss and the picture was good enough for me considering the value. I think this would be a good way to see a movie like Date Night or Grown-ups where you are just going for the laughs or focusing on the plot and not the specially effects.
When you add it up, the typical family of four could got to the movies for about $15 of admission. Admission for two movies at a typical cinema would probably be around $65. Eating and drinking costs can be the same as what you’d have at home, probably saving you another $25 or $30. More importantly, my wife summed it up this way, “I think it will be awhile before I think about going back to a regular theater again.”