Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Drive-In

Last night I decided to finally go check out the drive-in theater in Fork Union. I've always kinda wanted to go, since I've never been to a drive-in, but never took the opportunity. I'm glad I finally did, and look forward to going again.

While 'Fork Union' shows up on cvillemovies, you'd be hard-pressed to say it was in Charlottesville. I drove somewhere along the lines of 40-50 minutes both ways, and I left from the side of cville closest to the theater. That said, if you find a weekend (they only run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) when both movies are movies that you want to see, I definitely recommend the trip. The gates open at 7:30 and the movie(s) start at 'dusk'. Yesterday 'dusk' was apparently about 8:45. I showed up around 7:15 (I thought the gates opened at 7, and didn't realize 'dusk' was quite that late) and there were a half dozen or so cars already there. However, as I sat around waiting for the movie to start, I never noticed a line of cars waiting to get in, so you can probably aim to get there a bit later. Tickets cost \$8.50, but that's for two movies (it'll be a late night). There was an intermission of about 15 minutes between films, with previews on the first film, and none on the second. They claim to operated rain or shine (well... shine? at night?), and I'm now curious what it'd be like to see a movie in the rain.

Unlike every other theater I've ever been to, they let you bring in your own food. The people in the car next to me had a pizza. There is a concession stand, and it's got more variety than most theaters. It's got the usual popcorn, soda, candy, and nachos, but they also sell hotdogs, pulled-pork sandwiches, and various ice creams. I'd still recommend bringing your own, it's almost certainly cheaper. The concession stand is open the entire evening, in case you were curious.

Since I'd never been to a drive-in theater, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I thought you got the sound from your car radio, but was hesitant about that option for fear my battery would die. Turns out, that is one option, but they also have some speaker setup which I don't really understand (I'm pretty certain that the individual speakers are not powered). Throughout the park there are lots of poles coming up out of the ground, and each has 2 speakers attached to it. You can hang these on the window or door frame of your car, and this it the option I went with.

At one point the sound was a little off (I don't know how to describe sounds... tin-y maybe?), but it didn't last long, so I didn't try the car radio to see if it was also strange there. The speakers do have a volume knob, and with the volume all the way up and two speakers hanging on the passenger side window the sound level was just right. If it hadn't worked out, there's always the car radio.

I also wasn't entirely sure what picture quality would be like. When the previews started, the picture was quite fuzzy, but that was soon corrected. The sky was still a little bit light at the time, so the screen was a little bit washed out. Dark colors were difficult to distinguish. However, before long it was actually dark, and the screen looked good the rest of the night, even when the moon came up from behind us, shining on the screen.

Lots of people had bug spray, particularly those that stayed outside of their cars. I saw several people cleaning off their windshields before the movies started. I hadn't thought about it, but it seems like that's probably not a bad idea. If you show up early, like I did, bring something to do. It helps to have friends that go with you, so you can play cards or something. Many people brought chairs or towels and things to sit on. What seemed to me like perhaps the most comfortable was the people with pickup trucks who just sat in the bed of the truck. With some padding in there, it'd be like watching a movie in bed, I recon. The restroom facilities... leave a little to be desired. It consists of what seems like an outhouse, but with running water. There is one toilet for men, and one for women. You probably don't want to spend much time in them (and other people don't want you to either). Finally, the guy who opened the gates and sold me my ticket (whom I presume is the owner, but I didn't ask) has a quite large, but friendly, dog. My guess is a great dane, if they come in sort of brown and black.

In summary, the Fork Union has risen to the top of my list of movie theaters 'in' Charlottesville. I intend to keep better track of their movie schedule, and go back when the double feature consists of two movies I want to see. They had signs up for 'Wall-E' and 'The Dark Knight', so I've got my fingers crossed that those will show the same night sometime soon. This weekend (July 18-20) was 'The Incredible Hulk' and 'Wanted'. Next weekend is 'You don't mess with the Zohan' and 'Hancock'.

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