I can’t help but feel Agatha Christie looking over my shoulder as I write about the drive-in movie theaters in Maine — and then there were five.
Once, a crowd of almost 40 theaters spanned from the coastline to Canada, but now we’re down to a five-finger list of this Maine tradition we all believed was timeless. For too many, time was up.
That’s why cherishing the five drive-ins left in the Pine Tree State is more important than ever.
980 Portland Rd, Saco, ME 04072
The Saco Drive-In introduced the novelty of outdoor movie-watching in 1939. It was the first in the state and the second in the country.
After many successful decades and even more memories than mosquitoes, this drive in movie theater in Maine faced the technology turmoil of digital conversion in 2013 but was kept alive by a social media campaign to raise money.
What seemed like the rolling credits for The Saco Drive-In was the announcement of a closure in 2022. Hearts broke across Saco, and there seemed to be no sequel.
In true cinematic fashion, though, the team at Aquaboggan Waterpark — just across the street — stepped in. The Saco Drive-In is still open on the other side of Route 1.
Even with the soaking wet summer of 2023, the new location at the water park in Saco was a hit, and The Saco Drive-In should be here for years to come.
Let’s support this business to 100 years and beyond! We also commend the owners for their engagement on social media and for letting fans help pick the movies.
651 Bridgton Rd, Westbrook, ME 04092
Pride’s Corner Drive-In is just 7 miles west of Portland and is now 70 years old (Happy Birthday!). The digital transition in the 2010s almost kept the screen dark forever, but after some restructuring and soul-searching, the family kept the tradition alive.
We love the mixed offerings of top blockbusters and old classics. Where else can you see “Jaws” and “Barbie” in one summer on an outdoor big screen?
The parking lot is the largest of all drive-ins throughout Maine, with room for 550 cars. Also, the theater is known to keep the show going until the first big snow, so check the schedule for the annual Christmas Classic Trio.
383 Portland Rd, Bridgton, ME 04009
Between Long Lake and Woods Pond in Bridgton, the Bridgton Twin Drive-In Theatre is the only double-screen theater in Maine. Brothers owned both Bridgeton Twin and Pride’s Corner drive-ins from the start.
“They’ve been in my blood since day one. The character of the theater is nostalgic. It hasn’t changed since we built it in 1952. Drive-In theaters are the last of an American cultural experience,” Andrew Tevanian said of his time owning the Westbrook location.
His brother, John, added, “For most people, it’s about being outdoors and with your family. It’s more relaxed and gives you more freedom than a normal cinema.” John’s son, also named John, keeps the Bridgton Twin running.
Bridgton’s Twin Drive-In Theatre opened in 1957 and still shows two screens of blockbusters and classics through the season.
304 11th Ave, Madawaska, ME 04756
Way up in the Crown of Maine, just 1 mile from the Canadian border, the Skylite Drive-In celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. You gotta love how they celebrated in the Acadian Festival Parade with a John Deere bucket of popcorn.
The theater has stunning views while you wait for the sun to set and the movies to start. Popcorn is available, of course, but the Dough Boys steal the snack bar show here (it’s like a funnel cake without the funnel — just fried dough and powdered sugar). Also, we’ve seen a few people rave about the fried clams.
Since the location is so far north, the setting sun makes movies start earlier in September. The shows start at dusk, which is listed on the Facebook page each night. You can even get free popcorn if you purchase a Starite Drive-In T-shirt, and we’d love to see your photo!
NOTE: Do not confuse this one with the Starlight Drive-In in Pennsylvania.
123 Narrow Gauge Square, Farmington, ME 04938
I’m unsure if the average “from away” visitor could point to Farmington on a Maine map, but I strongly suggest that you look it up because the Narrow Gauge Cinema and Drive-In break the mold of drive-in theaters.
Tucked behind Main Street on Narrow Gauge Square is the ultimate summer date night. Guests can get a special combo of two drinks, popcorn, and free entertainment before the shows. This drive in movie theater in Maine also doubles as a venue for local festivals, like the Sandy River Music Festival.
The square has an indoor cinema and the Big Sky Grill where you can eat a bigger meal. Just save room for the popcorn.
Planning Your Maine Drive-In Memory
We have a few tips for making the most of your drive-in movie experience.
First, all theaters post updates on their respective Facebook pages. This includes current shows, links to online ticket purchases (where available), and pricing. Aside from The Saco Drive-In and the Narrow Gauge Drive-In, there are no websites for the different locations. Facebook is the best (and only, at times) option.
Second, review the rules on the Facebook pages. There are some laws you might need to know — like not being allowed to vape in cars or bring in alcohol catch people off guard.
Finally, there seems to be a big problem with people not knowing how to turn their headlights off while keeping the car radio on. (For those who don’t know, the sound for drive-in movies comes through a radio frequency, not loudspeakers like an indoor theater.)
One common trick is to turn off the car, apply the parking brake, and then turn the car back on. If that doesn’t work for you, bring something to cover your headlights or know how to remove (and reinsert) the fuse.
Everything You Need to Know About Maine’s Drive-Ins
|Name||Pets Allowed||Season||Cash Only||Snack Bar|
|The Saco Drive-In||Yes||Memorial Day — End of September||No. Purchase Online or at the gate.||Yes|
|Pride’s Corner Drive-In||No||Late May — First Big Snow||Yes, for all drive-in purchases.||Yes|
|Bridgton Twin Drive-In Theatre||Yes||Late April — Early November (weather dependent)||Yes||Yes|
|Skylite Drive-In||Check Before Going||Late May — Winter Weather||Yes||Yes|
|Narrow Gauge Drive-In||Yes||May — Winter Weather||No||Yes|
Remembering Fallen Drive In Movie Theaters in Maine
If you read the comments on these closures, you’ll find palpable nostalgia with a hint of resurgence, leaving you hopeful they’ll potentially re-open in the future.
For you Mainers or rusticators, you’ll love this Maine Drive-In Theatres Of Yesterday And Today Facebook page.
The drive-in industry once had 4,000 locations nationwide. At the best estimates in 2023, there are fewer than 350. Of nearly a dozen in New England, Maine has the most.
We strongly encourage you to wrap these local legends into your next Maine summer visit to keep the memories going for another generation.