The Alpena Drive-In Theatre

Sat. photo from

May 1993 satellite image obtained with Microsoft TerraServer

Obviously, this shot was taken too late to see the theatre intact...

* Map Legend:

  1. Concession Stand/Projection Booth... Appears to be demolished. I’m pretty sure the projection booth was in front and part of the concession stand, and not on top.
  2. Screen Tower... Another enclosed tower, this time housing go-carts and accessories. It looks like it was already taken down and some cleanup is still needed, but it’s hard to tell.
  3. Go-Cart Track, and below, Putt-Putt Golf... there as long as I can remember.
  4. DI Entrance... that little dot just right of the #4 might be the marquee, but I swear it was closer to the highway. The ticket booth might be that pie-shaped thing, but that would make the ticket window on the driver’s right. Naaahh... both items must have been removed by this point.
  5. DI Exit... The place where everyone went fleeing during a horrible film or after a bad hot dog.

* History:

This theatre was Alpena’s first of two drive-ins, preceeding the Thunder-Bay by at least a season... it was also the first to close.

From what I remember (and I could be wrong, Alex, but if I am, I’ll eat a bug), the theme was brown... The outline of the marquee (at least it wasn’t just a plain, white rectangle like the Thunder Bay’s), the trim on the ticket booth, concession stand, screen tower... heck, even some of the speakers. This theatre also ran exclusively on speaker sound.

I didn’t attend this theatre that often ’cuz by the time I got my drivers license, they were showing X-rated films (I did see regular movies there towards the end, tho). In order to present adult fare, the theatre had bright lights placed in such a way as to prevent highway travellers from seeing the action on the screen and driving the Buick onto the go-cart track.

One thing I noticed from my visits was that the intermission films were different from the Thunder Bay’s. I also took notice when some of my drive-in’s clips were retired and replaced with ones from the Alpena DI (you killed my clock... yoooo bastards!). I guess they don’t sell a lot of  Yoo-Hoo during porn...

Any-hoo, the bulk of the replacement clock reel from the Alpena DI was the one featuring the kooky OPTIGAN organ music (again, this can be seen on Tim Reed’s tape). Good Lord, I can still hear those "bleeps" and "blurps" in my sleep.

Oh, the #6... that’s where a partying bunch of just-out-of-high-school kids nearly got their heads busted for trying to sneak a peek at a featured adult flick. I can’t seem to remember who was there, exactly...

 November 19, 1998
 Updated May 26, 1999