Thursday 26 May 2011

Port Elmsley Drive-In ~ Port Elmsley ON

When was the last time you went to a drive-in cinema?

Have you ever been to a drive-in cinema?

While visiting Ottawa, I actually spent a lot of time visiting places not in Ottawa. LJ and I decided to take a road trip out to Port Elmsley to the Drive-In there. It was opening weekend, a decent movie listing, and I figured the bugs should be at a minimum. We took the hour and a half drive out, paid the $20 admittance ($10 per person, double feature) and found a great parking space in the middle.

The first movie I can remember seeing as a child was E.T. at the drive-in (which no longer exists). There was something cool about watching a movie in the family car. Flash forward many years, and it still has a magic quality.

It was opening night, so I didn't know if there was going to be a big crowd or not. Turns out, it was a big crowd.

I love the retro feel of the Port Elmsley Theatre. Above is the projector booth and concession stand which is clearly from a different era. They generally show family fair but I think this would be awesome to watch some grindhouse horror films here. Actually, it would make a great setting for a horror film. Hmmm . . .

Inside is the concession booth. I don't think much has changed here over the years.

Pogos, cotton candy, burgers, brined pickles and eggs, and of course popcorn are on sale.

A cool old fashion looking Sound Master. I ah, I don't know what this does. But look it's old and cool.

When I go to the movies, I almost always have to have popcorn. This time I wasn't getting popcorn. Until I walked in and smelled popcorn. And then I saw the self-serve butter and I had to get some popcorn.

I also got a cheese burger (this was my supper). Cooked on the flattop. Flipped by 16 year olds. Not stellar burgers. Just frozen bargain burgers. I did top it with ketchup, mayo, mustard and pickles. Should have gotten the pogo.

In case you forgot about the conscession stand, or the announcements from the projectionist, they play the old timey commercials (not the "lets all go to the lobby", but you get the idea).

On site is a playground for the kids to play while they wait for the movie. Families were playing catch with baseballs and footballs in the rows between the cars - which I thought was a terrible idea. Baseballs, kids, car windows. I trust dad is going to catch the ball, but not the kids.

Also, there was this crazy huge nest on top of a light/announcement pole. I'm pretty sure it was a pterodactyl nest.

The good old days of attaching the radio box to the window to listen to the movie are over. Now you just tune in to 88.7 and voila!  Basically you have surround sound which is pretty cool (depending on your car speakers of course).

There's also another good reason for no longer needing the window sound box. See, it being May and cool, I thought this was a great time to go because there would be no bugs. In past summers, LJ and I would have the problem of so many mosquitoes, forcing you to roll up the windows (well, power them up) but then it's too hot, so you have to turn the car on to have the A/C on - its not a comfortable situation.

Well, it turns out the mosquitoes were out in force. But it wasn't that hot so we could have the windows up and not boil. The locals, being smart and aware, have these special net/meshes that go up over the car window to avoid this problem. Smart.

Show times are not fixed - you basically have to wait until the sun goes down. But it's worth the wait. I mean, doesn't it just look magical?

Finally it's time to watch the movie. Up first on the roster was Rango. I really enjoyed this movie. This was really more adult orientated and I really liked the action, the characters and the humour. We ended up not staying for the second feature, Limitless - not because we didn't want to see the film, but since it was starting after 11pm and we still had an hour and a half drive, we opted to go home.

The drive-in is a fun experience. It may not be the best cinematic experience (bugs, big screen seen through car window, occasional headlights on the screen) but the Port Elmsley is just something you have to experience.

Port Elmsley Drive-In
333 Port Elmsley Road, Port Elmsley ON


Teena in Toronto said...

Wow! I haven't been to a drive-in since the 1980s. There used to be one at Highway 7/400 ... where Collossus Theatre now is.

Lord of the Wings said...

@Teena - Before my time in Ottawa, it was the 80├Ęs when I was at a drive-in last too!

Port Elmsley Drive-In said...

Thanks for the compliments! Especially the one about the snack bar probably not changing actual fact we gutted the whole thing and changed it completely, but our goal was to make it LOOK like it was from the 50's while making it easier to operate. We are now digital (far better picture than you would've seen that night with 35mm) and open from April-October.