As I mentioned in my first column about the history of movie theaters, the first drive in movie premiered in the state of New Jersey. Most would logically think that there are still many drive in theaters there. Sadly, that is not the case.
The Delsea Drive In located in Vineland, New Jersey is the only surviving drive in theater to be found in New Jersey. Opened in 1949, the Delsea was built and owned by the Budco theater chain which was bought out by AMC theaters in the 1970s. AMC decided to close the theater due to lack of business in 1987. And the screen stayed dark for almost 17 years….
In November of 2003, a group of area businessmen and investors purchased the property for $1.8 million with an Urban Enterprise Zone loan guarantee. Their original intention was to build a skate park on the property to encourage kids to be active again but changed their minds when they found that the giant 121 foot screen was still in excellent condition. They then remodeled and added a new roof to the concession stand, rebuilt almost everything on the lot, and opened again for business in July of 2004.
Today, the Delsea is in full swing. A second screen was added in 2008. It has a capacity for 700 cars and audio is provided through your FM stereo. Admission is only $8 for adults 12 and over, $3 for children 3 to ll, and free for children 2 and under. You can purchase an outside food and beverage permit for $7 if you would like to bring your own snacks. However, with snacks like Shrimp Kabobs, Chicken Parmesan, and Sirloin cheeseburgers found at the snack bar, you can have dinner and a movie in comfort under the stars!
For more pictures and history of the Delsea Drive In, click here to watch a short video!
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