Who says summer movies are dead this year? While the landscape looks a little – okay, a lot – different with release dates delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19, the drive-in is having a moment. From existing drive-in theaters to exciting new pop-ups, there are plenty of ways to get your socially distanced cinema experience on this summer and beyond. HNS spent the day at the Tribeca Drive-In, located at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, this weekend, and we’re here to give you the scoop on our experience.
It was so wonderful to have a somewhat normal moviegoing experience for the first time in months, especially speaking as someone who regularly saw 1-2 movies in theaters per week pre-pandemic. The Tribeca Drive-In couldn’t have been a smoother experience and had strong health and safety guidelines, so I felt great about going.
We started our experience with AT&T’s drive-on blue carpet – definitely a novelty experience – and received some sponsored giveaways including blankets, bags, neck pillows, and hand sanitizer before parking in our socially distanced spot, with six feet between us and the cars on either side. Everyone was required to wear masks any time they exited their vehicle, whether for restrooms or concessions, and was otherwise required to stay inside their car.
We were given an instructional card when we checked in from our car that provided information for tuning in to the movie audio (via radio or cell phone), all of the health guidelines, and ordering food (all ordered and prepaid via cell phone, before picking up on foot). Beyond movie theater snacks, the Rose Bowl location also offered food from two local food trucks.
I had never been to a drive-in during the day before, but we had no trouble seeing the screen. After a pre-show of interview segments, advertisements, and some classic Looney Tunes shorts (gotta love that HBO Max promo), we settled in for the main event: Spy Kids. It had been years since my last viewing, so I was excited to settle in to watch once more on the big screen. You could say it was the “shiitake mushrooms.”
The only negative of our experience – which is outside of Tribeca’s control – was the weather. A 100 degree plus day in Pasadena is not a good time to spend hours outside in a car. While the drive-in guidelines instruct you to turn your vehicle off during the movie, we and many others kept the engines running and the AC on – which was necessary, but didn’t make me feel great from an environmental standpoint. This is something to bear in mind when you select your showtime, and probably would not be an issue during the evenings.
If you’re looking to spend some time at the movies this summer – whether by yourself, for date night, or as a family outing – the Tribeca Drive-In was a wonderful experience. They have multiple locations across the country showing movies every weekend in July. Get all the details on the lineup and pricing right here.