It Came From The Drive In Theater (at Disney World)

I absolutely love drive in movies. Going to drive in movies, for me, truly was one of the great joys of my youth. If I had the chance to see a movie in the theater or at a drive in, I would take the drive in every single time, even though the sound was always inferior. You see, going to a drive in theater was a true total experience. It was so much more than just seeing a movie.

We had the most awesome drive in theater in the town where I grew up. My family made Saturday evening drive in movie night. Each of us were allowed to bring a friend with us. To get around paying for everyone (each person that the ticket person in the booth could see had to pay for a ticket) my Mom would make some of us sit down on the floorboard and then she threw a blanket over us! Dishonest? Sure but that was the only way some of my friends could go, and to me it was worth it!

My family would always stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken and grab a bucket of chicken and a ton of sides and then fill up a cooler full of Coke and Mountain Dew. This way we had plenty of food. You needed lots of food because at our drive in, you paid for one movie, but Saturdays were always double feature night! Two for the price of one! Score! So we always ate right when we got there, then we would still have plenty of food for the second feature.

Then there was the concession stand! Oh the concession stand! There was a little bit of heaven stashed in that concession stand. At intermission between the two movies, my Mom would give me a few dollars and allow me and my friend to go buy “snacks” at the concessions stand. There was ice cream cones, huge sour pickles, candy of all kinds (my favorite was candy cigarettes), popcorn, cotton candy, and frozen drinks like Coke and Cherry! I always left the drive in full and usually a little sick, but always enormously happy with a smile on my face. Oh and typically I fell asleep about half way through the second movie! Look for a more in-depth article from me soon detailing my addition to drive ins soon.

During our first trip to Walt Disney World, my wife and I made reservations at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. We were told that not only was it the coolest place there to eat, but the food was awesome and you actually got to sit inside cars and watch trailers from old B horror movies from the 50’s and 60’s mixed in with old Disney cartoons. What more could you possibly ask for?
We strolled up to the front of the restaurant and were greeted with this great sign on the outside:

Once inside, you are greeted by your server who is on roller skates. They escort you down a very dark hallway, all the while they are telling you that there is no kissing allowed in the cars, no necking either. Oh and if you break the speakers off you will have to pay for them. Shortly you round the corner and here is what you will see:

Yes that is a starry sky and a huge movie screen at the far end of the room. This is a massive space and you are immediately struck by the fact that everyone is sitting in a car watching the movies! AS you can see in this picture, everyone there truly plays it off like you are in a real drive in theater. Notice the warning on the movie screen that “carbon monoxide is a quite deadly killer” This was because back in the day, people would sit in their cars with the windows closed as they watched the movies so that they could make out. This of course would trap the carbon gas from your exhaust inside your car. Very authentic!

Movie billboard in the waiting room.

To make the experience even more authentic, they built a concession stand in the back of the restaurant as seen in this photo:

Popcorn please!

It is not a real working concession stand, but they did bring popcorn to your table for you to snack on before your meal.

The food had very catchy names to go along with the theming. My pulled pork BBQ sandwich was named “It Came From The BBQ”. The real star of the meal though were the extremely thick and rich shakes they offered, They came in a huge metal cup and it was easily more than you could eat by yourself.

On the movie screen they played trailers for B Horror movie such as “The 50 Foot Woman”, “Frankenstein Meets The Space Alien”, “Mars Needs Women”. You get the idea, truly bad B horror films. It was really fun to watch these. Mixed in were short pieces from the Worlds Fair about what technology would be like in the far future of the 1980’s! HA.

If you ever get down to Disney World, you MUST have dinner at the Sci Fi Dine In Theater. You’ll relive your childhood one bit at a time. Remember, no necking in the cars! Everyone will stare at you!

The Doc

If it was made in the 80's it's simply better!Take Empire Strikes Back for instance!

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5 thoughts on “It Came From The Drive In Theater (at Disney World)

  1. get2joe says:

    I agree the Sci-Fi Dine In is a must visit on any trip to Disneyworld. Its on of the most memorable dining experiences you can have in the parks.

  2. Paradroyd says:

    I’ve been to Disney World many times and have never seen this? Which park is this in within Disney World? (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM, etc)

  3. John says:

    Actually, it’s no longer called MGM–now it’s called Disney Hollywood studios. I went to the Sci Fi Diner during my last trip in December and had a great time. I agree it’s a must-do for retro fans. And the chocolate shakes are awesome :)

  4. I’ve only ever been to Disney World once (in 1995), but I went to three restaurants that were a blast for retro enthusiasts. The Sci-Fi Dine-In was, hands down, the coolest restaurant I’ve ever been to, and your pictures are GREAT! I have a few pictures of the restaurant and the cars you could sit in. Another retro-y restaurant I went to was like a 1940s movie studio’s commissary called, I think, Hollywood & Vine. Finally, there was another restaurant called 50’s Prime Time Cafe that was like stepping onto the set of your favorite old television shows, with all the requisite comfort food you’d expect! The waiting area of the restaurant had all kinds of tacky furnishings and tchotchkes, and the dining area had real 50s kitchen tables. Plus, all the televisions ran reruns! I think my sister and I got the meatloaf (naturally). I have some photos of that place, too, and I swear I had some printed napkins somewhere..

    Disney’s MGM Studios was a dream come true for retro tv, movie, and celebrity fans. There was a Hollywood collectibles shop called Sid Cahuenga’s One-Of-A-Kind Tinseltown Treasures that I was smitten with, and I loved the recreation of Sunset Blvd and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

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