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Hey Daddy-O, Let's Go to the Drive-In!

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Out here in Tinseltown, movies are part of our livelihood. They are meant to be an event, an experience, a true artform to be appreciated. It is ironic then, that the one of the great moviegoing traditions of yesteryear, the drive-in theater, has been nearly wiped out from the Southern California landscape.

But this past weekend marked a comeback of sorts with the grand opening of the Star-Vu Drive-In in Costa Mesa. Located at the Orange County Fairgrounds, the Star-Vu is the first drive-in to run in Orange County since the Highway 39 Drive-In in Westminster was razed in 1997 to build a Wal-Mart. (Ain’t progress grand?) Currently, the Vineland Drive-In in City of Industry is the only other drive-in in LA/OC.

The Star-Vu runs off of an inflatable, 65’ by 33’ screen, with a capacity of 300 vehicles. It has the usual amenities of a drive-in, with a Fairgrounds-operated concession stand in the back, as well as a kiddie play area. The audio is transmitted via FM radio. Tickets run $8.50 per person and $5 for kids (with a $.50 surcharge if you purchase online), and the theater plays two shows a night, seven days a week.

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I was able to catch the 8 pm Saturday showing of Shrek the Third, and while the movie left something to be desired (read: save your money and catch it on Netflix), the uniqueness of the drive-in experience still made it a worthwhile trip. The energy in the sold-out crowd made it feel more like a tailgate party, with kids running around and people hanging out while the sun went down. There were a lot of people who came out in their pickups and watched in the bed of the truck to make it an evening under the stars, as well as countless others in the standard-issue Orange County big-ass SUVs and minivans that popped the trunk open. Of course, because of the theater’s vehicle policy, I was able to secure some prime front center seats in my Accord because all of the big cars are required to park in the back or on the sides.