Once loved for nostalgia, Springfield’s Route 66 Drive-in is perfect for social-distanced fun

Southern Illinois Destinations

If 2020 was a normal year, you could head to the Route 66 Drive-in in Springfield on a Friday or Saturday night to enjoy a movie with a car full of your friends and family, reliving the activities of a bygone era, or maybe your first time.

Now with COVID-19, it is not only one of the only places you can go to, it is also one of the safest activities you can do.

“I don’t know how you can socially distance better than being in your own car,” said Doug Knight, General Manager of Knight’s Action Park & Route 66 Drive-in.

It’s still not business as usual though, as the theater opened about a month later than normal, sales are down about 50 percent and Hollywood isn’t distributing new movies.  

Keeping six feet of social distance cuts the number of spots from 252 to 175 for each of the two screens, but it isn’t all bad. Lots of independent studios are interested in showing their new movies, and they currently show up to eight different movies a week, so there’s a good chance your favorite movie or cult classic will play.

“We’re learning a lot: buying tickets online, we’re going to keep that. That’s awesome,” Knight said.

Food ordering is also getting a 21st Century update. Using the FanFood App, visitors at the drive-in or the water park next door can place their orders and pick their food up at the pickup window. These will be part of a new normal at the theater.

Artists are also being creative realizing the potential that drive-ins have, since there aren’t very many new movies coming out, if at all. Country music star Garth Brooks has a sold out concert that crashed Ticketmaster’s website for a performance only seen on North American drive-in screens. Expect more types of these events in the future.

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