Drive-in movie theaters thrive during pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted many businesses, from restaurants to office work, and movie theaters have also felt that hit. Most sit-down movie theaters have been forced to close down, but drive-in theaters are another story.

Social media assistant and event coordinator at Blue Grass Drive-In Theater Abbey Sigler said, “This year we have been especially busy due to the fact that most “normal” theaters were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but we have been able to effectively provide movies for families to enjoy while staying safe.”

Unlike sit-down theaters, most drive-ins have been able to stay open during the pandemic. “I don’t think the virus has affected us negatively. Although we don’t require masks because most of the time everyone does stay apart—the majority of our guests do choose to wear masks on their own. We have been one of the only avenues for family entertainment this summer, and I think we have done a great job of adapting to the changes and doing everything we can to keep everyone safe but yet still bring a small sense of normal to everyone’s lives.”

Despite not requiring the public to wear masks, Blue Grass does have some precautions keeping their customers safe, “Precautions in place include all of our staff, inside and out, wearing masks at all times. All cars are parked 6 feet apart. During our busy nights, we have a “bouncer” who stands outside of the concession door to limit the amount of people inside at once. We have guests enter through one door and exit through another separate door. One of our biggest changes/additions is that we added an online order option to our website. Guests now can go on our website to order their concession food items & pay for them right from their vehicle. We then send a text or give the guest a phone call when their order is ready to pick up. Additionally, we built a contactless food pickup station. Our concession stand members place the items on one side, and then the guest goes to their corresponding order box and picks up the item through their side. We ask anyone who orders from inside the stand to please wait back in their vehicle until their food order is done,” Sigler said.

There has been a major decrease in drive-in theaters due to the cost of moving to digital from film, but despite this, there still are hundreds of theaters around the United States, with Blue Grass being one of them at 774 W Mayne Street in Blue Grass, Iowa.

According to Sigler the benefits of a drive-in theater over a sit-down one are, “you have more room to spread out. You can pack up the family and bring them out. The kids can play on the swingset before the movies. You can bring the dog even (as long as they are kept on a leash and picked up after.) A lot of families will bring Frisbees or bean bags to play. It’s not just the movies you come to a drive-in for—it’s really a whole experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”

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