Raleigh Drive-In Celebrates Its 70th Season of Outdoor Movies

Movie Intermission at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre double feature. Photo: Kay Whatley
Movie Intermission at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre double feature. Photo: Kay Whatley

This year, the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre located in Henderson, North Carolina turns 69 years young.  Showing its first movie “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” on July 15, 1949, makes the theatre the oldest drive-in still operating in North Carolina.

Mark Frank and his wife, Jennifer, bought the theatre in December 2011. The Franks have made a few changes since then to the theatre –including an upgrade to 4K digital projection in September 2014 and expanding its dinner menu to include cheesesteak sandwiches, fresh-cut French fries, and funnel cake fries.

Movie sound is heard via FM radio.  Owner Mark Frank says:

“Most bring a portable FM radio, blankets, and folding chairs to sit outside, in the back of their SUV, or in the bed of their truck”.

Ticket prices are reasonable; in fact, less than most movie theatres. Adults (12 & up) pay $8.00, and kids (3-11) pay $5.00. That fee covers whatever movies are showing that evening.  Yes, movies plural — most nights two movies are shown, with special three-movie-nights scheduled from time-to-time. Where else could you go and watch a film for $2.50 to $4.00 per movie? Plus, some nights there are extras like inflatables or contests. Oh, and children under 3 yrs old are free with an adult.

Mark and Jennifer say it is a labor of love and enjoy watching people experience the way movies have been seen for generations.  One set of grandparents said to Mark during a busy night:

“It is all about the memories.”

One older couple brought the whole family to the drive-in and proceeded to show their adult children and grandkids where they had parked for Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone back when they visited this drive-in back in 1977.

The theatre is located about 30-40 minutes north of Raleigh/Durham at 3336 Raleigh Road, Henderson, North Carolina. Movies are shown every weekend, year round, for families to make new memories. Early entry (before dark) and intermission (between films) give everyone time for stretch breaks, concession stand runs, and even a chance to chat with others in the audience.

Before you go, it’s strongly suggested you read this drive-in’s first-timers visitor checklist to understand what to bring and what to expect.

Ed. Note: When our family went the first time, I was glad that I’d read it in advance and brought a portable radio, flashlight, and jacket (that was in September).

Open since July of 1949, the Raleigh Road Drive-In Theatre and The Franks specialize in bringing families together to enjoy movies in a nostalgic way while presenting new release movies in a 4k digital format every weekend year round.  Check out the theatre’s website at www.RaleighRoadDriveIn.com for movies show times, menu, and first-timers checklist. Movie line is 252.438.6959.

 

This panorama photo shows the screen and front part of Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre. Beyond the concession stand, more rows of cars were parked. It's a big place. Photo: Kay Whatley
This panorama photo shows the screen and front part of Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre. Beyond the concession stand, more rows of cars were parked. It’s a big place. Photo: Kay Whatley

 

Source: Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Ed. Note: See our 2017 article / movie review to read how comfortable we found this movie theatre to be for a group outing.

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