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If Danbury Built a Drive-In Movie Theater Would the People Come?

Credit - Michael Wilson
Credit – Michael C Wilson

The Danbury Drive-in closed down in 1985, could it be time to resurrect the drive-in movie theatre somewhere in Greater Danbury?

The first and only drive-in movie theatre, appropriately titled The Danbury Drive-In, opened in 1949 and closed its gates in 1985. The drive-in was located on Federal Road where Ingersol GMC and Hart Transit are located.

I have fond memories of my drive-in experiences both as a kid and as a teenager. When I was 13, my dad took me to see both Beatles movies, A Hard Day’s Night in 1964 and Help in 1965. As I progressed into my teenage years, the drive-in movies became what my mother called, “the passion pits.” For me, along with thousands of other teens, the drive-in was a means to an end. The means was the front seat of my mom’s 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 and the end game was making out with my girlfriend like the world was coming to an end.

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According to smithsonianmag.com, from the late-50s through the mid-6s, the drive-in movie theatre became an integral part of American culture, with approximately 4,000 drive-ins in operation from coast to coast. During its heyday, Connecticut had 12 working drive-ins, but today, there are only three left, and none of those three are within close proximity to Danbury. The three that remain are:

  1. The Southington Drive-In – The distance from Danbury to Southington is approximantely 33 miles and takes 43 minutes if there’s no traffic.
  2. Mansfield Drive-in Theatre and Marketplace – From Danbury, it will take you 2 hours and 12 minutes to drive to Mansfield, CT.
  3. Pleasant Valley Drive-in – Located in Barkhamsted, the drive to Pleasant Valley is a measly 1 hour from Danbury.

Just for fun, let’s say you had a bunch of cash to play with and your passion is to build a brand new retro drive-in movie theatre in Danbury. Where would you build that new drive-in? I have no idea if any of these suggestions are feasible, but here are my picks:

  1. Somewhere on the old Fairfield Hills property.
  2. Danbury’s west side near the Matrix building and the condo complexes.
  3. Any land that might be available on Route 302 that connects Bethel and Newtown.

Now it’s your turn. Where would you build a drive-in movie complex in the greater Danbury area if you had the cash?

Michael Wilson

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