Tips for taking your Kids to the Drive-in Movie Theater (and a review of the Big Mo)

South Carolina drive-in movie theater – the Big Mo

It’s one of SC’s three (or four, still not clear on this) Drive-in movie theaters. It’s called the Big Mo because of it’s location in Monetta, SC. A quiet, sleepy little town in the middle of Mo-where. Ha! I kill myself.

big mo 2

It took us almost an hour and a half to get there, so lil’ bit was wiped out when we arrived. But it didn’t take her long to wake up and make a ton of noise… during the movie. Why would we drive an hour and a half to go watch the same movies we could watch at the indoor theater five minutes from our house? Ambiance, of course.

The last time I visited a drive-in movie theater I was in upstate NY with my then boyfriend. It was not a fantastic experience. The mosquitoes were horrendous. We had to keep the windows rolled up in the car so as not to be annihilated by those ferocious flying blood suckers. Then it would get hot, so we’d have to run the car until we cooled off. I guess it really wasn’t that terrible, I just remember not really enjoying the situation.

So it wouldn’t have been my first pick for an outing, but my sister invited us and the kids were excited.

We went. And it was crazy. But fun.

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Tips for taking your kids to the Drive-in theater:

  1. Pack lots and lots of food and beverages. Because within the scope of an hour, an entire bag of popcorn, another bag of potato chips, a bottle of water, and a bowl of blueberries all managed to be spilled (and squashed!) all over the freshly vacuumed back of the van. However much food you PLANNED on taking – double it. The line to the concession stand was long and very, very hot.
  2. Bug spray.  You can NOT have enough bug spray.
  3. Bring blankets AND chairs. Some of the kids were on the tops of the cars, the hoods, or in the beds of trucks and vans so that they could get a higher vantage point. Most adults sat in chairs.
  4. Load up on hand sanitizer. The bathrooms are disgusting.
  5. If you’re taking alcohol, be sneaky. I didn’t tell you that.
  6. Be prepared for a really late night. The first full length feature started at 9. We left when it ended since we had over an hour to drive home.
  7. Bring something for the kids to do before the sun goes down. A game, a ball to play catch with, something, so you don’t hear “I’m BORED.” or “When is it starting?” 750 times.
  8. Arrive early so you get a closer spot. We could see fine, but there were a lot of cars in front of us, and if anyone opened a door, moved positions in or on the car, or did anything out of the ordinary, they blocked our view. I was surprised that even arriving one hour before the start, we still were on the second to last row. Of course, it was opening night for the “Pet’s Life” movie.

South Carolina drive-in movie theater

The Pros of the Big Mo:

  1. Really inexpensive. I can’t recall exactly what the price was, but it cost something around $3 for each kid and $8 for an adult.
  2. Three different screens. So they had a kids/family screen and then two others playing movies like the Purge 3 and other big kid/adult movies.
  3. Double features. For that small investment, you get TWO feature length films AND a short. Yes, we got a mini Ice Age movie prior to the start of our movie
  4. A playground and lots of room for the kids to run. You have to get there at least an hour (or more!) before the movie starts in order to get a spot, so it’s good they thought of a way for the kids to be entertained.
  5. Hall monitors that are Johnny on the Spot. I don’t really know what to call them. They aren’t security guards, they aren’t event staff… so I’ll just call them Hall Monitors. I was told I could bring beer, so I had my Cider in hand. The Monitor circled around a few times and finally saw what he was looking for. He took my beer and dumped it on the ground. Luckily it was almost gone. But, when we needed help tying down the hatch of the van so that the people behind us could see, he was right there with twine and the scissors in no time flat.
  6. Screen and sound quality were great.

big mo 4

Cons of the Big Mo

  1. Limited bathrooms. There were very few potties, and of those, a couple were out of order. We stood in line for EVER to go to the bathroom. Not fun with a very impatient four-year-old.
  2. Anything that goes along with being outside to watch a movie. Bugs, noises, inconsiderate people who leave the hatch to their van wide open (oh wait, that was me!) But those issues aren’t really their fault, are they?
  3. Limited access to the concession stand. Tiny little concession stand and it was about 900 degrees in the line. Bring your own food and drink.

I really can’t say many bad things about the experience. Despite some little issues that we worked through, it was gorgeous sitting outside under all the amazingly beautiful stars (the benefit of being out in the middle of mo-where!) and I really enjoyed the experience.

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I think the Drive-in movie theater will be added to our “Must do at least once every summer” list.

Do you have any additional tips for drive-ins?

South Carolina drive-in movie theater
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