Drive-In Fulfills Bucket List Desire

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Photo courtesy of Bridget Saifoloi

As a kid, I would always hear stories about drive-in theaters and how they’re better than movie theaters nowadays. My dad would share his favorite parts about the drive-in and how it’s a different experience sitting in a car compared to sitting in a theater. Going to a drive-in movie has always been on my bucket list, and now I can officially cross it off. 

Prior to the pandemic, most of us hadn’t thought much about drive-in theaters. Here in Hawaii, the last drive-in to exist was Kam Drive-In, which was located in Aiea, in 1998. But, with social distancing of the utmost priority, Oahu started to reopen drive-in theaters in May 2020. Today, their existence has made a comeback and I couldn’t be happier. American Renaissance Academy in Kapolei opened a drive-in and Pali Lanes in Kailua has one as well. It’s perfect that the drive-in made a comeback because we are living in a pandemic and practicing social distancing is a big deal.

“This is way better than going to a regular theater,” said Taylor Lebanon, a 21-year-old from Kailua, when going to the Kapolei drive-in. “I don’t have to sneak in any food and worry about getting caught. I can have a full-on food feast out here and no one will care.”

The drive-in I went to was the American Renaissance Academy in Kapolei. The movie that was shown was “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” which I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter series. I like to re-watch the series quite often so the movie was a perfect fit for my first drive-in. There was a snack bar but everyone had the same idea and brought a bunch of food. I saw families basically having pot-lucks outside their cars. The movie screen was nice and big, and I was in the first row so the experience was great. 

“Ever since I heard drive-in theaters were a thing I’ve been on the lookout,” said Kyle Lono, a 26-year-old from Hawaii Kai. “This is my third time coming, and I love it. I get to set up the whole back of my trunk with pillows, blankets and have lots of snacks and food. I honestly like it better than movie theaters.”

The most interesting thing about this drive-in was that it had live music right before the movie. This brought a twist and was basically a concert and movie all-in-one. The band played a lot of well-known songs, which my sisters and I jammed to and really got us into a good mood. As the band ended and they started to set up the screen, my level of excitement was at an all-time high and I couldn’t contain it anymore.

Although the main reason why we went was to watch the movie, this experience gave my sisters and I another way to bond with each other. Especially since we were sitting in a car together for such a long time.

The overall night was great and it lived up to my expectations. I’m planning on going back with my family. Every weekend they play different movies and this weekend “Hocus Pocus” is playing. The price of tickets range from $20-$30. Tickets are sold through Eventbrite