By Nur Suleiman
Take a trip down memory lane and bring your family to support three local drive-in businesses that have survived the era of technology.
In the past there were hundreds of drive-ins in Florida, but now there are only about seven. In Hillsborough County two still exist; The Ruskin Family Drive-In and The Fun-Lan Drive-In. Not too far away in Lakeland, you can also visit the Silver Moon Drive-In.
The Ruskin Family Drive In, located at 5011 US-41, opened on April 16, 1953 celebrating 67 years in business. The movies are displayed on a 2,000 ft. screen. Sticking to its roots, the Ruskin Family Drive In only accepts cash. The prices are $6 per adult (aged 9 and up), $1 for children ages 5-8 and under 5 is free. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday. www.ruskinfamilydrivein.com.
In Tampa, the Fun Lan Drive-In is located at 2302 E. Hillsborough Ave. and has been showing movies for just under 70 years having opened in January 1950. During the day from Thursday-Sunday, Fun Lan is a flea market and swap shop. However, starting at 8:30 p.m., you can catch a movie.
More than 71 years ago, Silver Moon DriveIn at 4100 New Tampa Hwy. in Lakeland opened on April 14, 1948 and is the only surviving drive-in movie theatre in Polk County. The prices are $2 for ages 4-9 and $6 for ages 10 and up.
The gates open around 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and around 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Each screen shows a double feature. Silver Moon also offers a Flea Market during the daylight hours. www.silvermoondrivein.com.
One common theme amongst the drive-ins is swap shops or flea markets that make use of the property during daylight hours. Swap shops are when vendors come out and sell or swap their goods.
President of Sun South Drive-In Theatres Chip Sawyer said, “A lot of theatres started to use the land as a creative way to gain revenue and use the land during the day.”
Some tips for going to the drive-in would be to get there early because there is no assigned seating and spots can fill up fast. Also bring cash because some drive-in movie theatres do not take credit cards.