Seeing a movie at a drive-in theater was at the top of our family’s “bucket list” this summer. Bengies Drive-In Theater, located east of Baltimore and about an hour away from our home in Silver Spring provided a great venue for our first drive-in movie experience.
Bengie’s has been in operation since 1956 and has many classic touches that make you feel like you are travelling back in time. There is a huge screen, playground, vintage ads and cartoons at intermission and a full service snack bar serving movie theater snacks and dinner fare (pizza, hot dog, pulled pork, meatball sandwiches).
Prices at the snack bar were reasonable and much cheaper than standard movie theater food. We purchased a bottle of water, popcorn and Twizzlers for under $9 altogether. The snack bar takes credit cards but prices for credit transactions are 4% higher than cash. You can view the full menu ahead of time on their website.
The gates at Bengies typically open at 7pm for the first show (approximately 8:45pm start). Their famous slogan is “The closer it gets to sunset, the longer the lines will become”. We learned how true this is the hard way. On a beautiful Saturday night we arrived in line for the theater at about 8:30 and didn’t make it in to a parking space until 9:15pm.
You can tune your radio to 106.9 to catch the audio of the show in case you are not in viewing position when the movie starts. Bengies does not allow admission by turning left into their parking lot. You must line up in the right hand lane on Eastern Boulevard to await your turn into the lot. Those attempting to turn in from the left hand lane will be denied entrance.
Admission to Bengies is cash only and varies depending on the popularity of the movie. Kids 4 and under are free, 4 to 10 are $4 each and adults vary from $5 to $9 on any given night. Your admission fee entitles you to stay through any double or triple features that they are hosting on a given night.
Bengies has survived for 57 years due to a strict adherence to the house rules. No outside food or drink is permitted to be brought in unless you purchase a $10 permit.
Management says that the concession stand is what brings in enough profits to allow them to purchase first run movies. The majority of the 22 house rules exist to make the drive-in experience safe and pleasant for all patrons and includes many common sense items like turn off your car and headlights, no sounding horns, no saving spaces etc.
This summer marks the first year that Bengies has converted to digital film instead of 35mm! To listen to the audio of the movie you tune your car radio to 106.9 fm.
You can choose to sit inside or outside of your car to view the movie. If you decide to bring chairs to sit outside you may want to bring a portable radio to listen to the audio. Either way, bring bug spray as the mosquitoes easily found their way into the car with the windows open!
Bengies operates Friday, Saturday and Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The theater operates rain or shine. Movie listings for the weekends are typically posted on Monday afternoons for the following week. Check their website or Facebook page for the most current information. You can also sign up for their weekly e-newsletter through their website.
A few tips to get the most out of your trip to Bengies
- Do not wait until intermission to use the restroom or purchase snacks. The line was ridiculously long as we were leaving after the first film.
- Make sure all kids have shoes even if they are in their pj’s. Bengies has a strict policy of every patron needing shoes.
- Bring bug spray and cash.
- Arrive EARLY!!
The drive-in is a summer tradition. Head to Bengies to experience this rite of summer fun with your family!
Photo courtesy of Bengie’s Drive-In Theater.