Gather around to hear the story of a time and place where people went to “drive-in” movie theaters rather than megaplexes to see a movie on the big screen…
On Saturday night, Johnnie Bud and I made the hour+ drive from just south of Downtown Raleigh to Henderson, NC (44.8 miles to be exact) to check out Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, one of the only six remaining drive in movie theatres left in the United States. The rain from earlier in the day had moved out of the area for the most part (ran into one small shower on the way to the theatre), but the movies are shown rain or shine and both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy were playing, so we figured no better night to go!
Not considering the investment of the drive itself, this place is a great value. They are open almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night between March and December and all evenings are double feature movies for one price per person attending, rather than per vehicle – which was totally fine by just the two of us. The two tickets we purchased online before leaving home were only $16.70 total – that’s only $8.35 per person to see two new movies! The concessions sold on site are also incredibly value priced, probably 1/4 to 1/3 of the cost of a large Raleigh-area movie theater complex. You definitely cannot get a small popcorn and soda at a modern movie theater for less than $5.00!
The incredible deals on the movies and concessions does leave the facility itself with much to be desired. The concession trailer, food pick-up area and restrooms (only one restroom for each gender) were incredibly dated and don’t seem to have been well-maintained in recent years. The movie screen itself and sound quality were great, however. The sound is played via 90.3 FM in your car, or you can roll your windows down and listen to the sound played via various speakers located all over the property. Which brings me to one our only chief complaint of the evening… the people parked on both sides of us had really lost all good movie-going sense.
The family to our left chose to bring a young baby who cried and made noise the entire time. No exaggerating here – this happened even through the 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. second movie! Not only did they not walk away from the viewing area with the crying child, but they also stayed through the late show. We finally had to roll up our windows and listen to the audio during the second show through our car’s radio, which was less than ideal because Johnnie Bud had to crank the car every 10 minutes when the accessory status automatically turned itself off. The family to our right chose to smoke and were offended when other patrons came over and asked them to stop because their smoke was blowing in other vehicles. (In their defense, the offended other vehicles did not politely make their request. So everyone was just rude. Welcome to Henderson, I guess!) Their children also talked through the entirety of both films.
So at the end of the day, the only real downside to this date night were some crummy other attendees, but all in all, we thought the movie-watching experience was very cool and we’ll definitely be back when there are more movies being shown that we want to see at a great price from a neat vantage point.
Visit the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre website for weekly updates about what’s being shown during the upcoming weekend and enjoy your trip just outside of town!