July 16, 2014

Arkansas Drive-Ins; A Summer Tradition

There are some childhood experiences that are simply better left in the past. Tube tops, forced square-dancing in P.E. class at Dunbar Junior High, giant eyeglasses with the little gold horoscope decals stuck to the corner ... none of those need to come back around to haunt me my kids. But there are other things that I do love seeing preserved and passed along to the next generation. One example is the summertime treat of seeing a movie at the drive-in theater.

Arkansas Drive-In

The very first drive-in opened in Camden, New Jersey 85 years ago this year. The popularity of the drive-in surged in the late 1940s and into the 50s, and peaked with approximately 5,000 theaters entertaining people of all ages across the country. Sadly, there are fewer than 400 left in the U.S. today.

The Asher Drive-In in Little Rock was the site of my first drive-in theater experience. My family huddled together in our station wagon to watch Charlton Heston part the Red Sea and hoist the tablets into the air in The “Ten Commandments”. On the oversized drive-in screen, those feats were impressive even through the pouring rainstorm that passed through that evening.

The Asher is gone now, along with at least 48 other Arkansas drive-ins that dazzled children like me in their day. (See the full list here.) But, three die-hards are still drawing crowds every summer. Lower ticket prices, double-features, and the ability to bring your own food make a night at the drive-in a great way to spend an evening as a family or with a group of friends. Here’s a rundown of the three surviving drive-ins in Arkansas.


112 Drive-In Theater – Fayetteville

In Fayetteville, the 112 Drive-In Theater shows a double-feature Thursday through Sunday nights, beginning at 9 p.m.  The box office opens 30 minutes prior to show time, except on Saturday when they open an hour before. Their concession stand offers standard snack foods along with a more substantial list of dinner items like hamburgers and hotdogs.

Note: Alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden and will get you ejected.

Location: 3552 N Highway 112, Fayetteville, AR
Forms of Payment: Cash Only
Phone: 479-442-4542
Ticket Prices: Age 13+ $9.00 / 6 – 12 $4.00 / Kids 5 and under are free
Website:  http://112driveintheatre.com/
Email: 112driveintheatre@gmail.com

Kenda Drive-In – Marshall

The gates first opened in 1966 at the Kenda Drive-In, and they are still showing first-run movies in single and double-features Thursday through Monday nights. The box office opens at 7:30 p.m., with a 9:00 show time. There is no street address for the theater, but there is a map on their website. The website provides no information on concessions, so call ahead to ask what’s available and what you can bring. (Or if you have firsthand info – feel free to share it in the comments section below!)

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Location: Highway 65 North (north of town), Marshall, AR
Forms of Payment: Cash or check
Phone: 870-448-2393 ‎
Ticket Prices: Age 12+ $5.00 / 6 – 11 $2.00 (free with parent) / Kids 5 and under are free
Website: http://www.kendadrivein.com/

Stone Drive-In

Stone Drive-In Theatre – Mountain View

The Stone Drive-In was built in 1965 and nearly faced closure in 2013 when movies went digital and they were required to replace their existing projector. The theatre is still going strong and runs a single-feature four nights a week (Friday-Monday) throughout the spring, summer and early fall. Movies still play in the rain.

Location: 808 Theatre Lane (southwest of town), Mountain View, AR
Forms of Payment: Unknown
Phone: 870-269-3227
Ticket Prices: Age 12+ $5.00 / Under 11 Free
Website: http://www.stonedrivein.net/

If you are planning a trip to a drive-in this summer, here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not sit on top of vehicles. This is for your own safety and to allow a view of the screen for all patrons.
  • Hatches should be tied down level with the top of your vehicle.
  • Keep chairs and blankets within your own parking space.
  • Be courteous of the people around you who are also trying to watch and hear the movie.
  • Keep activities and language family-friendly – you never know who is watching and listening from the space beside you.
  • Throw trash in provided cans or take it with you.

What are your favorite drive-in memories? Share them below, then go out and make some new ones – see you at the movies.

Laurie Marshall

Arkansas Women Blogger Laurie is a writer and artist living in Springdale, Arkansas with her husband, son and three cats who think they’re people. She can’t keep her fingernails clean, prefers her tea unsweet, and is on a first-name basis with local thrift store employees. You can follow Laurie at See Laurie Write and Junque Rethunque.

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