- Las Vegas
Just toss and pop out your popcorn.
Posted on 09/02/2020 at 16:37
There is a long tradition in Las Vegas of living, having fun and pushing the limits of excess without getting out of the car. See self-service wedding chapels, for example, atweddings in las vegasor theSmall white chapel for weddings. (At last check, there were no self-service divorce courts available, but wait a bit.) In a more recent trend,marijuana dispensariesNoTermmibloomAdded self-service windows to make sales faster and more convenient. Just do the right thing and wait until you get home before turning it on.
What about drive-in movies? Unfortunately, Vegas has fallen a bit short in that department. still in a newsocial distancing age, things are beginning to change. But why stop at the movies? Las Vegas has a few other complete drive-in experiences to enjoy outdoors. Expect demand to pick up just as we start to cool off from summer and fall weather.
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You'd think an entertainment-oriented city would have more of a traditional drive-in. However, West Wind has been letting the flag run on its own for a while now. In fact, the theater dates back to the 1960s, when it was known simply as the Las Vegas Drive-In. A few screens have been added over the years and everything is now completely digital, but West Wind wants to keep a retro image, which was immediately felt with the tall arches that welcome cars near the main entrance.
West-In has been a source of not only entertainment but also familiarity during the pandemic. After closing in March, the theater resumed operations in May with a heavy emphasis on classic movies and a new unguided social distancing. In the past, it wasn't uncommon to stand outside your car and throw a football before the movie started, but now that sort of thing is discouraged. West Wind still strives to show new releases as soon as they're available, with prices lower than what you typically find in shuttered theaters. In recent months, the venue has hosted concerts (on screen, not in person) by big names like Metallica, Blake Shelton, and Garth Brooks, helping to fill a void as concerts and other forms of live entertainment remain on hold. For those up north, West Wind has a second Nevada drive-in just outside of Reno in Sparks.
Afterdebut early 2020, Burger 51 officially changes its name to Snappy Burger. The concept remains the same - a drive-thru restaurant where you can park your car and watch movies on a big screen - but the new name represents a shift from the original UFO/sci-fi imagery to something broader. Owner Jon Basso, also the creative mind behind theheart attack grillon Fremont Street, says he wants Snappy Burger to be an outlet for independent films of all genres.
Specifically, he talks about short films. After picking up their food, customers tune into a radio station and listen while watching a rotating cycle of two short films (each less than 10 minutes long). Selections appropriate for families open from 11:00 to 21:00. Then, from 9 pm to 1 am, the movies get a little more intense for older audiences. The 20-by-35-foot screen uses backlit technology, allowing the image to stay bright and colorful, even during the day. In addition to burgers, customers can order nachos, popcorn, shaved ice and vintage chocolate bars. Wash it all down with your choice of Coke or Pepsi (served in glass bottles and made with real sugar in Mexico). You can even buy $1 comics, though they're not so much for kids as they are for adults looking for a dose of nostalgia.
Out of range
Dreamland Drive-In is about as much fun as you can have in a warehouse truck bay. The concept is an extension of Fresh Wata Studios, which specializes in creative production and exhibition spaces. With conventions and hotel events mostly suspended during the pandemic, the company has put its abandoned loading docks to good use as a dinner theater with an outdoor drive-in feel. The shows often mix live music with interactive effects and video projections.
The first successful production was thedrag drive-in show, with live singing and performances by artists from the Strip and Broadway. Dreamland also organized a guest residence ofsexy(a women's fashion magazine on hiatus from the Westgate Hotel) and a comedy show featuring 10 stand-up comedians over three nights. After taking a break from performing during the hot summer months, Dreamland returns withCamaraderie(a tailgating concept for football season), theAutocine Nightmarefor Halloween, and theAutocine Holly Jollyfor the holiday season. A drive-in dining experience is also in the works. For now, the public can have groceries delivered to their car through online ordering and contactless delivery.
downtown art district
When the Majestic Repertory Theater was prohibited from allowing the public into its black box performance space due to COVID-19 restrictions, the company took to the streets. Or more specifically, an alley behind the theater in the Arts District. The idea was actually inspired by a strip club in Seattle. In this case, the theater could not sell tickets, but had a retail license. Thus, they sold masks and T-shirts presented with a complete performance that included burlesque dancers, lights, smoke, and evil clowns in a post-apocalyptic setting. Upon arrival, the cars were questioned by actors wearing masks, goggles, and protective clothing before being allowed through with a full "decontamination," a clever idea that resonated almost too well at the height of the COVID panic.
With the heat of summer fast approaching and the protests dominating the headlines, the theater decided to take a break. With the fall upon us though, the company is back with The Parking Lot, a timely outdoor spectacle about a quarantined couple struggling to understand their future. It opens on September 24 with performances twice a night (7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) from Thursday to Sunday. Tickets are purchased in advance for $50 per vehicle. The theater is also planning Horrorwood Video, a drive-in version of its annual Halloween extravaganza, which features an old-school video store caught in a spooky vortex. The theater notes that the cast and crew practice social distancing as much as possible during shows and are regularly tested for COVID-19.
The Clark County Recreation and Park District wants you to get out of the house while staying as safe and socially distanced as possible. He is hosting a series of free drive-ins throughout September in different corners of the valley. Vehicles will be allowed on a first-come, first-served basis, reservations are not required. Once inside, cars will be directed to park in staggered patterns with at least 10 feet of space between them. Expect at least one or two food trucks on site with order and pickup notices available via text to minimize crowds.
Free drive-in movie screenings includeSingat the Winchester Dondero Cultural Center (McLeod & Desert Inn) on September 11,the rascalsat the Hollywood Recreation Center (Hollywood & Charleston), and a movie to be determined (follow ourweekly event recapsfor the latest updates) at the Walnut Community Center (Walnut & Cheyenne) on September 25. All movies start at 7:45 p.m. m. and the doors open at 6 p.m. m.
Somewhere between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City lies Yonder Escalante. TOgreat tripit is necessary to get there, but totally worth it. The luxury-focused glamground has revamped old drafts and customized tiny houses for lodging, or you can simply park and hook up your own RV. The place was redesigned from an old drive-in, though locals can't agree on how long it's been there.
The good news: Visitors can still catch outdoor movies on the big screen Thursday through Sunday. For the full experience, rent a vintage car, reimagined as a fancy sleeper sofa for $25. Popcorn included. Yonder plans to host themed movie weekends (such asStar Warsonational lampoon), but no matter what you see, the best part is enjoying a movie surrounded by the scenery of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Other perks include telescopes to check the constellations at night and dinner kits to cook over a campfire.
north las vegas
Glittering Lights has been one of the most captivating drive-in experiences in Las Vegas for 20 years. The vacation attraction includes approximately 2.4 miles of colored lights that wind around and around the length of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Walk past them while listening to commercial-free Christmas music on the radio and drinking hot chocolate or eating popcorn.
Overall, there are over four million lights and 600 displays, many of which change from year to year. Expect a nativity scene and an area dedicated to local Las Vegas sports teams. In honor of current events, don't be surprised if you see Santa Claus wearing a mask. Money raised from ticket sales (starting at $25 per car) is divided among more than 50 children's charities in southern Nevada. So check it out. In a year when so many annual events are cancelled, it's nice to see something catchy and familiar on the holiday calendar.
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Rob Kachelriesshas been writing about Las Vegas at Thrillist for more than six years. Her work has also been featured in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. She is fixing the air conditioning in the car before going into any drive-in experience. Follow him on Twitter@rkachelriess.