Hitting the open road is always awesome – but so is the time-honored tradition of watching a movie at the drive-in. A staple of the 1950s into the 1970s, drive-in movie theaters have fallen on hard times over the last few decades, but these places continue to offer the experience, with updates. Some are older and traditional, some are newer “pop-ups”; all provide a fun experience in the great Wisconsin outdoors… from in your vehicle.
Stardust Drive-In, Chetek
The Stardust two-screen drive-in in Chetek bills itself as the “last remaining Drive-In Theater in northern Wisconsin.” And depending on where you consider northern Wisconsin to begin, they may be right. One screen usually leans towards family-friendly fare and the more adult-oriented movies, like horror thrillers and the like, play on the other screen. Gates open at 6:30pm and movies typically start around sunset. Ticket prices are $8.50 for adults (13 and up) and $4.50 for children, ages 5-12. The Orbit is a playground and train ride area for kids. It’s a very cool layout and the snack bar is pretty sweet, too!
Here’s what coming up this weekend:
Friday, September 17th-Sunday, September 19th: Screen One: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at 7:30pm followed by Free Guy at 10:00pm. Screen Two: Cry Macho at 7:30pm followed by Malignant at 9:30pm.
Big Sky Twin Drive-In, Wisconsin Dells
The Big Sky is located just southeast of Wisconsin Dells, right where Highways 16 and 127 meet up. Two full-sized screens play 2-for-1 first-run feature films. It opens at 7:30pm and movies begin around dusk. Well-behaved pets are welcomed. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids under 11. Two other things of note: 1) Bring cash, because The Big Sky does not take credit or debit cards; and 2) Bring lots of cash, because you’ll probably want to try their famous Big Mamaburger, the featured culinary delight from their concession stand!
Friday, September 17th and Saturday, September 18th, Big Sky has Free Guy followed by Jungle Cruise on Screen One, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings followed by Black Widow on Screen Two. Shows begin at dusk.
Skyway Drive-In Theater, Fish Creek
The Skyway, right along good ol’ Highway 42, is Door County’s classic drive-in. It opened back in 1950 and has hung on ever since, keeping up the quality and offering radio for audio reception (100.5 FM or 530 AM) as well as some remaining classic speakers for your car in the first four rows. Pets are welcome, as long as they behave – but I suspect that goes for humans, too. Tickets are $9.50 for people 12 and up, $5.50 for kids ages 5-11, kids 4 and younger are free. Bring cash (they don’t take cards, either) for the movies and the concession stand, where they offer all the basics along with some fun stuff like foot-long hot dogs and ice cream novelties.
Friday, September 17th and Saturday, September 18th, Skyway features Free Guy beginning around 7:15pm, followed by Black Widow around 9:20pm. Gates open at 6:30pm and close about 10 minutes after the start of the second show.
Starlite 14 Drive-In, Richland Center
U.S. Highway 14 East
Richland Center, WI 53581
Starlite 14 Facebook Page
The Starlite is truly an original classic, having started in 1953. Like many “old school” drive-ins, it fell on hard times for quite a while and even shut down for quite a few years. But new owners bought it, refurbished it, modernized the sound system, did a deep clean, and with this “COVID era,” it’s seen quite a resurrection, starting back up last July. The old metal stands holding the speakers are gone, and now a low power FM signal gives viewers in their cars the sound they need for the movies they watch on the 60′ x 38′ screen. Admission is $10 for adults, Kids 3-12 are $5. Tickets are sold at the gate. Carry-ins are not allowed!
You’ll find the Starlite 14 right along its namesake, U.S. 14, on the south side of Richland Center.
The Starlite complements its movie selections with occasional car shows, private events, and streams of live concerts. And they’re continuing LATE into the season! This weekend (Friday 9/17 and Saturday 9/18), they are showing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings followed by Jungle Cruise, with gates opening at 6:30pm; the movie begins around 8:00pm.
Starlite has also posted these as future movies dates as we go into fall – and the winter season!
September 24th – 25th: Space Jam 2 & Suicide Squad
October 1st – 2nd: Addams Family & Old
October 8th – 9th: No Time To Die & Addams Family
October 15th – 16th: No Time To Die & Venom 2
October 22nd – 23rd: Venom 2
October 29th – 30th: Eternals
November 5th – 6th: Ghostbusters: Afterlife & Eternals
November 12th 13th: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
November 19th – 20th: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
November 26th – 27th: Grinch & White Christmas
December 3rd – 4th: Elf & Polar Express
The Milky Way Drive-In, Franklin
7035 S. Ballpark Drive., Franklin
Just off Highway 36 in the southern Milwaukee suburb of Franklin, The Milky Way is a “pop-up” drive-in, showing movies in the parking lot of the stadium where the relatively new Northwoods League baseball team, the Milwaukee Milkmen, play. this new drive-in hotspot costs $35 per vehicle per movie, bring however many people you want in the vehicle. Carhops can deiver food and beverages from the food trucks around, as well as the concession stands that would normally serve baseball fans. An app will allow you to order food and drinks, as well as listen to the movie’s audio (outdoor speakers and an FM station option also provide the sound.)
The Milky Way is open for the season, but Milwaukee Milkmen games mean the schedule varies each week. Their current schedule shows:
Thursday, September 16th: Jumanji: The Next Level at 6:30pm, followed by Godzilla vs. Kong
Friday, September 17th: Wrath of Man at 9:30pm
Saturday, September 18th: Monsters University at 5:00pm, followed by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at 7:45pm and Antebellum at 10:30pm
Sunday, September 12th: The Boss Baby: Family Business at 5:00pm
Thursday, September 23rd: Mortal Kombat at 9:15pm
Friday, September 24th: Back to the Future at 6:30pm followed by Cruella at 9:15pm
Saturday, September 25th: Spirit Untamed at 5:00pm, followed by F9: The Fast Saga at 7:30pm and The Little Things at 10:30pm
Sunday, September 26th: Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway at 5:00pm
Thursday, September 30th: Double feature A Quiet Place at 6:30pm followed by A Quiet Place Part II
Friday, October 1st: Hocus Pocus at 6:30pm followed by Grindhouse at 9:15pm
Saturday, October 2nd: The Nightmare Before Christmas at 5:00pm, followed by The Cabin in the Woods at 7:45pm and The Babadook at 10:30pm
Sunday, October 3rd: Monsters, Inc. at 5:00pm followed by The Goonies at 7:45pm
Thursday, October 7th: Double feature of A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Forever Purge, first movie begins at 6:30pm
Friday, October 8th: Gremlins at 6:30pm followed by Jigsaw at 9:15pm
Hit their website for more updates!
Chilton Twilight Outdoor Theater, Chilton
A 2012 addition to the state’s drive-in lineup, the Chilton Twilight Outdoor Theater is usually open Wednesdays through Sundays (weather permitting, of course) for double features. They also offer a mini-golf course. They’re located right along Highways 32/57 on the south side of Chilton. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids 11 and under. They have regular movie-style concessions as well as homemade pizzas.
The end of the season is near, but not here – yet. They are closed this weekend, but Friday, September 24th Chilton Twilight will show Tom & Jerry followed by Jungle Cruise. Admission is $10 per carload that night! Gates open at 6:30, movies begin between 7:30 and 7:45pm. Other movie nights include Saturday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 9th. We’ll have the info for you as we get it!
Goetz’ Sky-Vu Drive-In, Monroe
N1936 Wisconsin Highway 69, Monroe
Just south of Monroe on Highway 69, you’ll find the Sky-Vu, a sister theater for the Goetz in downtown Monroe. The Sky-Vu has weathered all kinds of conditions since 1954 and is now in its 66th season. They’ve been fully digital since 2012, the concession stand is open, and they’re welcoming cash-paying guests – they don’t take cards either – for the rest of the season. They bill themselves as “where the stars come to play at night”; gates open at 7:27 this weekend (they’re very specific!)
This weekend (Friday & Saturday September 17th & 18th), Goetz’ Sky-Vu is showing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings starting at 8:05pm, followed by Free Guy.
Moonlight Outdoor Theater, Shawano
1494 E. Green Bay St (Highway 22 & Business Highway 29)., Shawano
Shawano Cinema & Moonlight Outdoor Theater Facebook Page
“Moonlight” is the name for the retro-style outdoor movies shown at the Shawano Cinema, which offers indoor movies all year ’round and the drive-in option when weather permits, and right now most of the time, it permits. Tickets are a great deal for a double feature, $8 for adults and $3 for kids. The Moonlight Outdoor Theater typically offers double-features Thursday through Sunday, in season. Movies generally start a little after dusk, currently around 8:15pm.
Sadly, The Moonlight Outdoor is closed for the season, but you can get showtimes for the movies inside here.
Field of Scenes Outdoor Theater, Freedom
Big on puns but believing if they built it, they would come, Field of Scenes opened in 2003 right along Highway 55 in Freedom, just north of Kaukauna and I-41. and having opened in 2003, Field of Scenes features two screens and double features; tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids 11 and under. Also, Field of Scenes offers two playgrounds, a basketball court and a volleyball court to keep kids occupied before the movies start. Tickets cannot be purchased in advance; they must be purchased at the gate. Adult admission is $8, Children 4-11 are $4, and Children 3 and under are free. Ticket prices include a double feature.
Unfortunately, Field of Scenes is now closed for the season, but we’ll look forward to movies there in 2022!
Highway 18 Outdoor Theater, Jefferson
W6423 US Highway 18 (and Highway 89), Jefferson
Billing itself as “Wisconsin’s First Digital Cinema Drive-In,” the Highway 18 Outdoor lets you in for $10 for adults, $6 for children ages 5-11 and children 4 and under are admitted free. Unlike several of these drive-ins, the Highway 18 Outdoor does accept credit cards. No checks… but who writes checks to get into the movies now?
Admission to the grounds begins at 6:30pm Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm Sundays. For audio, you have the choice of the old-school speakers or listening on a low power FM station. The neon retro sign beckons you in, right along U.S. 18 and Highway 89, just west of Highway 26 bypass of Jefferson.
The Highway 18 Outdoor is now closed for the season. They will reopen in Spring, 2022.