El Rancho Drive-In: Northern Nevada’s Only Drive-In Movie Theater

by on March 7th, 2015
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Movies play a huge part in American culture. Going to the theater has been a favorite past time for millions of movie buffs across the country for decades. Unfortunately, gone are the nostalgic days when a movie and refreshments cost less than a dollar. Today’s movie goers can expect to spend an average of nine dollars per movie ticket. Refreshments are also outrageously priced. Grandpa would never have been able to justify spending five dollars on popcorn, four dollars on soda, and three dollars on candy. A modern movie date will end up costing closer to forty dollars. After shelling out a small fortune viewers still have to deal with uncomfortable seats, views obscured by heads, and rude people who talk during the show.
Thank goodness for El Rancho Drive-in! Located in Sparks, Nevada, a short drive from Reno, El Rancho Drive-in Movie Theater has offered an affordable alternative to movie-goers since 1951. Today El Rancho features four big screens and quality sound that can be tuned in on a vehicle’s FM radio station. Admission is only $6.25, and snacks can be purchased at the concession stand for reasonable prices. People who prefer to bring their own food and beverages are welcome to do so as well. I like to pile blankets and pillows in the back of my pick-up truck and enjoy a comfortable bed under the stars while watching movies with my friends. It sure beats going to one of the other local cinemas, shelling out big bucks for cheap snacks, shifting uncomfortably in a greasy seat, and peering around the heads of tall people for hours.
Drive-in movie theaters are as much of an American classic as the movies themselves. According to Drive-ins.com, the first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, New Jersey in 1933. At the peak of drive-in popularity in 1958, there were between four and five thousand drive-ins operating throughout the United States, (www.drive-ins.com). Images of famous drive-in movie scenes from movies like Grease and The Outsiders come to mind when thinking of drive-ins. Today only 360 drive-in movie theaters remain in the U.S. (www.drive-ins.com). Gone are the ducktails and bobby socks, greasers, and socs. They have gone the way of so many once thriving drive-in theatres. These relics of the past are being driven out slowly, giving way to large corporate theatres who charge consumers top dollar. I hope that the last of these drive-ins remain open, because they still provide a unique movie experience. I feel fortunate to have one of these establishments in my area. Long live El Rancho Drive-in!!


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