Retro Drive-In Movie Theater in Carbon County Opens for Season

MAHONING TOWNSHIP, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — People are driving across the country to get to a drive-in movie theater that’s right in our backyard!

From the ticket booth, to the concession stand, to the projection room….

“It is a time capsule. It is a time machine,” said Virgil Cardamone, film booker.

The Mahoning Drive-In Theater near Lehighton is the only all retro drive-in playing classic movies on 35 millimeter film.

“I just fell in love with the place and that gigantic screen,” said Mark Nelson, a movie buff who lives in New Hampshire.

This 109 foot screen is the second largest in the country.

Movie buff, Mark Nelson, has been coming to the drive-in for the past three years. Each time he comes, it’s a six and a half hour drive from New Hampshire.”It’s like nothing else you can get anywhere,” said Cardamone.

The drive-in has been open since 1948. But when Virgil and Matt took over, there was a lot of work to be done.”When we started four years, we were looking at three or four car nights; people wandering in from seeing the marquee, now that’s turned into people driving across the country,” said Matthew McClanahan, manager.

Their goal– to make it a retro destination where movie buffs can come and celebrate their fandom.”People show up in costume, they have t-shirts for the movies, they bring props, they have vehicles — like when the ‘Back to the Future’ movies run, they show up with dolorians,” said Nelson.”It has truly become like a comic con atmosphere here,” said Cardamone.

This weekend it opens for its 69th season, with its annual double feature ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Willy Wonka’.

Gates open at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The first movie usually starts once it’s dark out, around 8:30. There’s an intermission between films. Then film number two takes the screen.

And it’s not just the movies that are a step back in time; the theater also shows old movie trailers and intermission reels .”It’s kind of magical,” said Nelson.

You can even spend the night.

For showings and more information head to the website.

By Haley Bianco of

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March 22, 2019, 10:24 pm

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