Drive-In theaters, popup attractions and car hop restaurant service have popped up all around LA in summer 2020.
Yes drive-ins, popular in LA in the 1950s with the burgeoning car culture, are back in in the Pandemic of 2020. Drive-in car events provide good social distancing in our covid-cancelled summer.
Here’s our guide to LA area drive-in theaters, popups, and restaurants.
POPUP ATTRACTIONS and EXPERIENCES
These pop-up attractions are limited time only, and typically require car drive-in.
Six Flags Cruis’n the Park Car Show
Drive thru Six Flags theme park to see more than 100 cars, hot rods, bikes with dancers, Bugs Bunny, music and more at West Coast Customs Cruis’n the Park Car Show running weekends Feb 26 – March 14, 2021. Yes, you can drive through Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in your own car to see custom cars in several themed areas with music and entertainment in this approximately 30 minute experience. See article.
Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience
The much buzzed about Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience is every bit as amazing as you’ve heard. It introduces a new type of car immersive – carmersive – activation experience where you see Stranger Things themed sets and scenes with live actors at the Row DTLA.
Unlike a drive-in movie theater, where all the action takes place on a 2D screen, in this drive-into, you drive into a maze experiences with different sets, as actors who run around your car and talk to you, as well as amazing visual, audio and digital effects all around you, all themed to Stranger Things Season 3.
Details and tickets https://strangerthingsdriveinto.com
The Happy Place drive-thru experience introduces the car drive-thru version of the Instagram Museum opened Nov 2020 – Jan 2020.
You drive through 18 colorful, larger than life sets covering more than 50,000 sq. ft of the third floor of the Westfield Century City parking garage. In LA where many museums – including Instagram Museums – have had to close down due to Covid, the Happy Place drive-thru shows you can still do it as a drive-thru. See article.
Six Flags Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience
Six Flags Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience let you drive thru eight themed areas of the theme park featuring thousands of lights, costumed characters, festive music, snow, and Santa in Dec 2020.
“We are delighted to be reopening our park to safely celebrate the holidays with this unprecedented and magical event,” said Six Flags Magic Mountain President, Don McCoy. “We have successfully transformed the traditional operation of our beloved Holiday in the Park into a new drive-through experience. We are proud and honored to help our guests create special holiday memories, and to provide a feeling of hope and a small reprieve during this very difficult year.”
As one of the largest holiday drive-through events in Southern California and the only one inside a theme park, the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience features eight immersive, distinctly different areas with colorful twinkling lights and festive music. Dozens of characters add personality to the drive-thru route, including elves, fairies, dancers, stilt-walkers and Santa and Mrs. Clause. They eagerly wave as you drive by, wishing you “Happy Holidays” with festive cheer and unlimited energy. See more in our article.
WE Drive-Ins premier theater screening new releases launches in Santa Monica this weekend. It’s a welcome addition to LA’s drive-in theatre scene, with new feature films and reserved parking. It opened with Minari in February, and will screen award-nominated and anticipated new releases Nomadland, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, and Kong and Godzilla.
WE Drive-Ins is the idea-come-true for Digital LA member Ben Chou, who’s attended past Digital LA events. When regular theatres shut down in pandemic, he wanted to create a drive-in theatre to “make lemonade out of lemons, restoring the great American Drive-In theatre.” After much work finding a location and partnering with the studios for new release movies, he’s grateful for having his dreams come true. See article.
Pasadena Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl hosted put a pop-up screen in the parking lot in the fall of 2020 with Fox and Tribeca. 20th Century Fox partnered with the Rose Bowl to screen the New Mutants film Aug 27 – Sep 13. Price is $35 flat rate per car. Get tickets.
The Tribeca Film Festival hosted a July summer series of family films including Palm Springs. See our article.
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre (Montclair)
The long-running Mission Tiki Drive-in theatre has four screens in a huge parking lot. You pay $10 to get into one of the four parking lots. Each screen shows a double feature each night. You can stay for both films. You can’t switch screens. For audio, you tune your radio to the station for the movie you’ve paid for. For concessions: visit the concessions stand in the middle of the four lots.
Food: Includes, burgers, fries, popcorn, and pizza, as well as Mexican food including dinner plates AND CHURROS. Prices are very reasonable compared to a regular movie theatre. The concessions building has markings for social distancing, requires a mask, and signs say no more than 10 people inside.
Releases: include films that were out in March when quarantine was announced, like Knives Out, Sonic, and Bloodshot. Newer films include Trolls: World Tour, and the Amazon Studios’ film The Vast of Night.
Fun: Mission Tiki hosted an event for the premiere of the Amazon Studios film ‘The Vast of Night.’ It’s a alien thriller set in the 1950s, so a drive-in theatre is perfect for the launch and screening of the film. Who knows: could more movie studios do premieres of their films here?
Tip: Most movies start at 8p. Arrive at least 30-60 min early on the weekend to get thru the line, get a good parking spot at your screen, get your concessions.
Photo Opp. Sunset photo right past the 8p movie begins.
Trivia: Mission Tiki had announced last fall that they were going to close at the end of 2019 due to development. But then in November, the theater announced that the developer wasn’t going to start until late 2020, so the theatre would remain open through the summer of 2020. Now that the pandemic has increased attendance, and delayed real estate development overall, the drive-in could continue a bit longer.
Get movie times at Mission Tiki’s web site. You can buy tickets at the ticket gate.
Other drive-thru theaters include the Roadium in Torrance, the Paramount, and more. There have also been pop-ups at the American at Brand roof, Ventura Movies/Concerts in Your Car, and more.
RESTAURANTS: CAR HOPS
Mel’s Drive-In (Sunset Strip)
Mel’s Drive In on Sunset is open up for carhop service in its parking lot. Try the special $9.99 car hop combo for a Mel Burger (tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles), fries and soft drink. You can upgrade to sweet potato fries for $2, or a float for more.
You can park in the parking lot, and a waiter will come out to take your order, and return later with your food and a tray that attaches to your car window.
Car hop service available Mon-Fri 9 am – 9 pm, and Fri, Sat, Sun 8a – 10p.
There’s even a mini jukebox radio outside playing tunes to help set the mood.
Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant (Burbank)
Bob’s is probably the only restaurant in LA that offers four types of distance dining service. Bob’s is very distance friendly – even the Bob statue in front is wearing a mask!
Car Hop. Bob’s Big Boy is bringing back its car hop service every day 9 am – 9pm. You can drive up in its parking lot, and a car-host will direct you where to park. Then a server wearing a mask brings a disposable menu to your car, to take your order. You should be wearing a mask too. The carhop waiter (runner) returns with your food on a tray that attaches to your rolled-down window for you to eat your food. You don’t have to get out of your car.
Drive-Thru. The drive-thru is open, so you can order at the window, get your food, and speed away.
Pick-up (order in advance and pick-up) and Take-Out (order in person there and go) are also available.
There is no inside dining at this time.
Food: Bob’s serves the 1950s classics burgers, fries, soda, root beer floats.
It also serves beef dip, chicken and waffles, and other diner food. It’s still LA, so the menu also includes salads, quesadillas, breakfast burritos served all day. For dessert: try the famous strawberry pie or seven-layer chocolate cake.
Photo Opps: The car hop sign, palm trees, classic cars, food on food treys, selfie with Bob Big Boy statue with mask.
Fun Fact: Friday Nights brings back Car Show night, where car collectors bring their Mustangs, Cadillacs, and other retro cars to show off at the Bob’s parking lot and the adjacent parking lot.
Wear your masks as you’re walking around checking cars, and remain physically distant! Note: If you go on Friday night, there may be a 20-30 min wait to get a car hop parking spot, cuz Friday night’s are packed in pandemic!