Skyline Drive-In—A blast from the past

The Olympic Peninsula is home to a huge slice of nostalgia and Americana that’s tough to find anywhere else. The iconic Skyline Drive-In in Shelton is one of only five remaining drive-in movie theaters in Washington state. Fewer than 300 remain across the U.S.

The outdoor cinema has been screening outdoor films since 1964, when two friends named Fred Thibodeau and Fred Hendry, painters at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard, opened the gates. Opening night featured Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and a cartoon called Billy Budd. The theater quickly became a hot spot for date nights and family outings.

Skyline Drive-In has screened feature films for more than 50 years (there was a brief foray into steamy adult movies in the 1970s the locals would like to forget) and continues to celebrate cinema classics with showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease, where movie goers dress the part and gather in their classic cars.

The vision of two the Freds lives on today, despite the Skyline’s near demise a few years back when the theater was required to modernize its screen from 35-millimeter film to digital. Thanks to local fundraising efforts and donations from around the globe, the theatre—and a big part of the community—was saved.

Current owners Dorothea and Christopher Mayes stand committed to what they call the distinctly American tradition of double features, with kids in pajamas in the back seat and families watching movies under the stars—seven days a week, rain or shine.

A visit to Skyline Drive-In is more than a novel and nostalgic experience. It’s also a great deal. General admission (12 and up) is just $8, children 6-11 get in for $3, and kids 5 and under are free.

 

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