Or, leave the kids at home and steam up the windows with your sweetie.
Or, leave the kids at home and steam up the windows with your sweetie.
The pre-movie kid scene is a blast for the 10-and-under crowd.
The pre-movie kid scene is a blast for the 10-and-under crowd.
Be sure to bring bubbles. They're fun.
Be sure to bring bubbles. They're fun.

Doin' the drive-in

This weekend, I took my kids to Keno Drive-In, an outdoor movie theater in Pleasant Prairie. It had been about 10 years since I last went to a drive-in, and although outdoor movie theaters are hard to find these days, we are lucky to have two within an hour of Milwaukee. (There is also Hi-Way 18 Outdoor Theater in Jefferson.)

It took us about 50 minutes to get to The Keno from Walker's Point. It is an easy 28-mile drive south on I-94 and then another five miles east to the theater. The film, "Cars 2," was scheduled to start at 8:30 (it actually began closer to 9 p.m.), but we got there around 6:30 p.m. Not only did we want to get a good parking spot, but I remembered from a decade ago that when kids are involved the pre-flick parking lot scene is as much fun – if not more – than the movie itself. Kind of like a G-rated Grateful Dead show.

When we got to the drive-up window to buy our tickets ($8 for adults; $4 for kids on a Saturday night double feature), an attendee reported he had to check our trunk for "hiders." I asked him if that really happens because I thought people stowing away in the trunk to avoid paying for a ticket was drive-in lore, but the worker informed me that it happens all the time. (Note to self: next time, hide in trunk wearing creepy clown mask just to freak out worker.)

We found a spot right up front for our convertible 1975 El Dorado, the most drive-in-perfect vehicle I have ever owned, and then spent the next two hours playing catch, blowing bubbles, eating pizza and running around the large grassy space in front of the screen. My kids said they felt like they were camping.

There were dozens and dozens of kids, many wearing pajamas, and lots of adults sitting in cars and on cars and in fold-up chairs with coolers next to them.

Technically, you are not supposed to bring in your own food and drink to the drive-ins, but it appears many people do. However, food and non-alcoholic beverages are available at the concessions stand. We bought sodas (how did this flask end up in my glove box?) and pizza and eventually I got talked into ice cream and glow-sticks. The pizza was average, but the kids had a blast sitting on the trunk of the car and eating it.

It got a little buggy at dusk, so bring bug spray or citronella candles.

By the time the movie started, the kids were pretty tired, so they crawled into their sleeping bags in front of the car on the grass and watched the sequel to a movie they loved. (I, personally, preferred the first "Cars" movie because it was more about character development and relationships, but I appreciated the anti-large-oil-company message in "Cars 2.")

The screen isn't great – I have heard the one in Jefferson has fewer seams on it  – and the sound, which comes from the radio, is OK. But as I already stated: the drive-in is never really about the movie.

By the time the film reached the finish line, it was 10:50 p.m. ("The Green Lantern" was up next, but we were in no form for another flick.) It was an extremely late night, especially considering the 50-minute drive home, but it was definitely worth it. The drive-in theater is a soon-to-expire experience, and one that all the plush stadium seating and surround sound in the world cannot replace.

Talkbacks

BoxerguyMiWI | June 28, 2011 at 7:33 p.m. (report)

36048 The article did say east of 94!

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bayviewbadgerfan | June 28, 2011 at 1:34 p.m. (report)

I think you ment east of 94 in Kenosha.

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BoxerguyMiWI | June 27, 2011 at 4:04 p.m. (report)

36048 Both the Keno and Highway 18 outdoors are a great way to enjoy an evening. My choice of the two would be the Highway 18 outdoor.

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beefsupreme | June 27, 2011 at 3:35 p.m. (report)

great place. much more chill than i expected for a single screen drive-in. much more nostalgic too. cool pic!

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