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.
Starlite 14 Drive-In, Richland Center
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 it’s seen quite a resurrection since starting back up in 2020. 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.
Starlite 14 is now CLOSED for the season, but they’ll be open in spring!
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 drive-in hotspot, which opened in 2020, costs $35 per vehicle per movie, bring however many people you want in the vehicle. Carhops can deliver 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 closed for the season, but there may be special events. 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, not far from their junction with U.S. 151. Admission is normally $6 for adults, $4 for kids 11 and under. They have regular movie-style concessions as well as homemade pizzas; no carry-ins.
The Chilton Twilight is now closed for the season, they’ll reopen in Spring..
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 67th season. They’ve been fully digital since 2012. They bill themselves as “where the stars come to play at night” and be sure to bring actual bills: they are cash only.
Goetz’ Sky-Vu is now CLOSED for the season but they are available to rent into early December if you’re interested. Check their site for details!
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 7:45 pm 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!
Big Sky is CLOSED for the season, back open in spring!
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!
Stardust is CLOSED for the season. We’ll look forward to it opening back up in spring 2024!
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 Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 pm 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.
Highway 18 Outdoor is now CLOSED for the season. It’s also FOR SALE too – find out more on their website (hopefully somebody buys them and keeps them open!)
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.
Skyway Drive-In is CLOSED for the season, back open again in spring 2024!
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. Now celebrating its 20th year, 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.
Field of Scenes is now CLOSED for the season, back open in May 2024!
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 sometimes offers double-features Thursday through Sunday, in season. Movies generally start a little after dusk.
The Shawano Moonlight Outdoor is now CLOSED for the season, but you can get showtimes for the movies inside here.