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Bel Air Drive-In Theatre


Address: 8600 E 8 Mile Rd
City: Detroit State: MI Zip: 48234 Phone:  
County: Wayne
Notes: 4 Screens
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Open: 1950 (8-25-50) Closed: 1986 Capacity: 2200 Status: Closed  
Owner History: G. R. Associates
Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 4487
 
 

7/26/2013 - Jack Turri
What great times for America!! I remember going to drive ins and putting up those cheap folding lounge chairs and watching the movies outside of the car. But, my most vivid memory of the Bel Air was taking the Van Dyke city bus up to 8-mile Road and then walking to the drive in, sneaking inside through a hole in the back fence and heading to the front playground area. What brought us high school hippies there for 7 straight nights. ? It was the summer of 1970 and the movie Woodstock was showing!!.

10/7/2011 - Ray Roney
The listed Terraserver image (Color) is indeed the Aerial from the West Side Drive In, along 8 mile Road near Coolidge/Schaefer.
10/7/2011 - LJ
Drive-Ins were the best. The Gratiot, the Van Dyke, Bel-Air, and the Jolly Roger were a few that my parents took us to as my siblings and I were growing up. I would automatically hit the playground at the base of the screen when I was small. I was normally asleep by the time the second feature started. As long as I was awake for the dancing hot dog, I did not care.

When I was about 10, it was just me and my Dad who went to the drive-in for my birthday. It was wonderful. Later, I would go on dates to them as a teenager in the late 1970's - early 80's. I missed them.

When my husband and I talked about them, our daughter is shock. We watched a movie outside. She will never know what she and her generation is missing.

4/17/2011 - Unknown
me and my sister on double date in 56 chevy circa 1967 we 2 in trunk for free entrance as our dates payed we re pounding let us out butt we got away with gettin in 2 for 4 ppl good the b a d and and a few dollars more grounded for a month those were the days.
2/26/2010 - ElJay
The aerial photo from Terraserver is not the correct updated aerial view of what used to be the BelAir drivein location.
10/10/2008 - Wayne
I just found this site and had to fess up and tell a story about the drive-in. I will preface that I am not condoning this action but we were kids and we did stuff that was not honest. When the lights went down at the Bel Air Drive-in we would pay the fee of ten cents and take the train ride around the perimeter of the drive-n. When the train reached a spot near the back of the fenced area we would jump off the train and crawl under the fence. Then we would meet in the front row near the rides.

Our friend who would be alone in his car and pay the simple price would meet us and tell us where the car was parked. EWe then would enjoy the movies in the confort of the car and save a lot of money! Surprised that they never caught us. As life went on and I grew to be a parent we still went to the drive-in. We would bundle the kids and take them.

The fireworks were always a JOY! Wayne.
10/16/2003 - MichiganDriveIns.com
BOX OFFICE MAGAZINE ARTICLE Feb. 14,1972: DETROITS FIRST TWIN - ADDITION OF SECOND SCREEN BRINGS CAPACITY OF BEL-AIR DRIVE-IN TO 3,000 CARS Detroits first twin drive-in theatre, the Bel Air 1 and 2, has proven a bonanza beyond expectations since its opening late last November, according to its owners, the well-known Goldberg twins, Adolph and Irving, founders and owners of Community Theatres of Detroit. The circuit, with with both indoor and drive-in theatres, the Adams and the Grand Circus, neighborhood theatres Punch & Judy, Redford, Royal Oak and Jewel-Mt. Clemens, and two other drive-ins, the Gratiot and Grand River. Well established as Michigans largest drive-in theatre since its opening in 1949 as a 2,200-car facility, the Bel Air became a dual complex after completion of construction undertaken early in 1971, with operation continuing throughout the project.

Bel Air 1 now accommodates 1,800 cars, with another 1,200 in Bel Air 2, facing a separate screen tower at the opposite end of the original property. A second and separate concession building services Bel Air 2, and projection buildings are seperate for each of the theatres. Based on an average of three partons per car, this means the facility is capable of accommodating some 9,000 moviegoers. The original entrance, holding area and boxoffices facing heavily traveled Eight Mile Road serve both facilities for year-round operation in all weather conditions with heaters and hard-topped ramps serving all positions.

The dual drive-in opened its expanded operation Thanksgiving weekend with The Organization headlining the bill in Bel Air 1, and Play Misty For Me in Bel Air 2. The Detroit News observed the occasion with a Sunday feature complete with an aerial photo of the site, saluting the Goldbergs for being the first with a twin drive-in, and tracing their activities in building the Community Theatres circuit of indoor and outdoor theatres, following their pre-war introduction to the theatre business as employees of an uncle, Charles Komer, one of of Detroits pioneer exhibitors. One week following the actual opening, an official Grand Opening was held, with all twins admitted free and with free gifts to both men and women attending. Ever since its expansion, the Bel Air twin has maintained a high level of grosses compared to seasonal averages, with weekends frequently achieving capacity business in both sides of the theatre.

10/16/2003 - MichiganDriveIns.com
I grew up in Detroit, and my favorite DIs were the East Side and especially the Bel-Air. The last time I went to the Bel-Air was around 1981; my wife and I were visiting Detroit and went to a flea-market they were holding there. At that time they regularly held flea-markets at the Bel-Air; I dont know if they were still showing movies there then. It broke my heart when I heard the Bel-Air was being torn down, to be replaced by another shopping mall. The mall has an indoor theatre in it.

But in the early 60s, the Bel-Air was at its peak, with a small amusement park on the west side of the screen and a playground on the south side of the screen (in front of the viewing side of the screen). There was also a kids size train (a REAL miniature train) that the kids could take free rides on. And on the 4th of July weekend, the place was packed for the fireworks display. Cars were also lined up along the street outside to see the fireworks for free.

Doug Long 10-31-99.
1/6/2003 - Drive-Ins.com
One of the largest drive ins in Detroit, actually the ONLY drive-in IN Detroit. The first 2 screen drive in. Capacity 2200 cars. The Bel Air was the #1 grossing drive in in the metro area, with the Algiers #2. The Bel Air was torn down and replaced with a shopping center.

However the name lives on, as there is a 10-screen hard top (indoor theatre) on that site. R. Fredrick.
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - OLD PIC FROM JIM
OLD PIC FROM JIM
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - AERIAL SHOT
AERIAL SHOT
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - BEL-AIR GRAND OPENING AD 8-25-50
BEL-AIR GRAND OPENING AD 8-25-50
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - BEL-AIR MARQUEE & SCREEN 1950-51 THEATRE CATALOG
BEL-AIR MARQUEE & SCREEN 1950-51 THEATRE CATALOG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - BUILDING - PHOTO FROM RG
BUILDING - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
KIDDIELAND FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM RG
CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
FROM JIM BONKOWSKI
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - SNACK BAR 1972
SNACK BAR 1972
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - SCREEN - PHOTO FROM RG
SCREEN - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - INSIDE SNACK BAR 1972
INSIDE SNACK BAR 1972
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - PROJECTION 1972
PROJECTION 1972
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - BELAIR OWNERS THE GOLDBERG BROS 1972
BELAIR OWNERS THE GOLDBERG BROS 1972
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - SCREEN FROM BACK - PHOTO FROM RG
SCREEN FROM BACK - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - POLES AND CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM RG
POLES AND CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - FROM THE AIR - PHOTO FROM RG
FROM THE AIR - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - SPEAKER PIC FROM JIM
SPEAKER PIC FROM JIM
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - SPEAKER PIC FROM JIM
SPEAKER PIC FROM JIM
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - TRAIN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
TRAIN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - MARQUEE - PHOTO FROM RG
MARQUEE - PHOTO FROM RG
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - AERIAL - PHOTO FROM TERRASERVER
AERIAL - PHOTO FROM TERRASERVER
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - OLD AERIAL
OLD AERIAL
Bel Air Drive-In Theatre - ARTICLE FROM RON GROSS
ARTICLE FROM RON GROSS

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