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Vista Drive-In Theatre


Address: 4500 Lake Michigan Dr
City: Walker State: MI Zip: 49544 Phone:  
County: Kent
Notes:
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Open: 1955 (8-17-55) Closed: 1978 Capacity: 1300 Status: Demolished  
Owner History: Butterfield Theatres
Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 7400
Video Clip:A walk around a few summers back, see the similarity to the Denniston!

 
 

12/15/2010 - Ray Breen
I have many fond memories of the Vista. I remember going there after getting my driver's license and watching My side of the mountain and laying on top of my Dad's car. I remember taking a couple of my first dates there and making out. The scary movies were the best because the girls would be more prone to hold on to you during the scariest parts. Remember those crazy ads for the concession stand and everyone would get out and walk to get some popcorn and a hot dog? And those heavy metal speakers you would hang on the window that had terrible sound? But what fun we had there! It was sad to see the place close and then start to deteriorate over the years.

Now there is a big Meijer store and a bunch of other stores on the property. Thanks for the pictures! It was neat to see the old sign and screen again.
5/6/2008 - Joe Camfield
I noted the reference to the Denniston Drive-in in Monroe, Michigan and the similarity between the two. When I managed the Vista, my District Manager told me that the Vista and the Denniston Drive-in''s were built about the same time and were the only Drive-In theatres built by Butterfield. Butterfield Theatres was, unlike Redstone, primarily an indoor theatre operation and entered the Drive-In facet of theatre operations rather late in the process, acquiring rather than building their own theatres. The Vista was the only wholey owned Drive-In constructed by the company, the Denniston Drive-In was a jointly owned affair in which Butterfield had controlling interest. As a result it was much easier to obtain what was needed for the operation by way of maintenance and upkeep as well as booking first run quality entertainment.

My first experiece at the Vista was as a 7 year-old in 1956 being taken by my parents to see Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels in the Lone Ranger. Little did I know then that I would grow up to manage this magnificent facility.
4/15/2008 - Joe Camfield
I managed the Vista Drive in from August 1974 to September 1976 for Butterfield Theatres, Inc. then headquartered in Detroit, now Monroe Michigan. In those days we transformed the Vista from a declining attendance to an exciting venue by introducing WLAV dollar night and running first-run films like Jaws, White Line Fever Bugs Bunny Superstar on dollar nights. On one such night we filled the house to capacity on a Tuesday night with over 1,000 autos jammed onto the lot. Working with the booking department I convinced the company to send us first-run features from the old Eastbrook after Jack McCarthy (our manager there) was finished with them and before they would be released for other companies to bid again on them.

We were able to bring such hits as Blazing Saddles and Chinatown to the Vista early in my management tenure reversing a trend toward exploitation and sexploitation movies that had become standard drive-in fare. I explained to the office that the facility was too good for those kinds of films and was able to reduce such showing to a minimum and bring more critically acclaimed entertainment to the west side of town. Over the two years I was there, the Vista began to retiurn to her old glory. I was given a great deal of discretion by Butterfield to run the theatre, having been given control, within budgets, of personnel, policy and advertising and promotions.

It was a great training ground for a young manager. I miss the place. Later, after the theatre was closed, I worked for a few weeks stripping the facility of speakers and post heads and removing over 1,000 speaker posts from the ground. Over the years I watched the old lady age, and lamented her passing.

5/8/2007 - Matthew Scott
i have some more information on the vista drive in location my grandparents june and william cunningham owned the theater in the early 70s untill it was closed and then in the the early and mid 80s they ran and later rented out the space to a flea market that ran a good run. after that i dont know who took onership of the location i know that a paint ball play area was made out of main building and the vista was removed from the sign and the ticket booth was taken down. i have great memorys of being there and will submit some great pictures as soon as i get them. another fact my grandfather died in 1979 and my Grandmother thought that she had sold all parts of the property and early 1992 she was suprised to find out that she still had ownership of the front area now where wallgreens is located so that turned out to be profitable after all those years.

5/11/2006 - Ryan
Unfortunately, the old Vista is completely gone. A Meijer store was built in early 2005 right in the middle of the property. A Walgreens store is also there, near where the screen once was. The snack bar building remained standing until work began to build the Meijer store. My dad has mentioned before that at one time after the Vista closed in 1978, the snack bar building was a sporting goods store for a while.

I dont have any further information on that, but I sure miss the theater and wish it was still there.
9/25/2005 - Howard Parks
Now a Meijer Store and Walgreens sit at that spot.
10/14/2003 - WaterWinterWonderland
The magnificent Vista still sits empty while the vandals and the weather takes its toll. Apparently Meijer changed their mind about building a store on this lot. So here it sits like so many other drive-in graveyards in slow decay, causing one to wonder, why couldnt it have stayed open at least until the land was re-developed?.
1/6/2003 - WaterWinterWonderland
Vandalized snack bar remains, also ticket booth foundations, driveways and ramps are visible.
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA POST CARD
VISTA POST CARD
Vista Drive-In Theatre - WRECKED CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
WRECKED CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA 1998
VISTA 1998
Vista Drive-In Theatre - INSIDE OF CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
INSIDE OF CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - ANOTHER INSIDE SHOT - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
ANOTHER INSIDE SHOT - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - PROJECTION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
PROJECTION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - RESTROOM - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
RESTROOM - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - INSIDE PROJECTION BOOTH - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
INSIDE PROJECTION BOOTH - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - OUTSIDE CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
OUTSIDE CONCESSION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - MARQUEE SUPPORT - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
MARQUEE SUPPORT - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - MARQUEE PARTS - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
MARQUEE PARTS - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - FOUNDATION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
FOUNDATION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - EXIT SIGN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
EXIT SIGN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - DRIVEWAY - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
DRIVEWAY - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA01 GREGORYWESTRA 1979
VISTA01 GREGORYWESTRA 1979
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA02 GREGORYWESTRA 1979
VISTA02 GREGORYWESTRA 1979
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA MIKEQUICK AUG1978
VISTA MIKEQUICK AUG1978
Vista Drive-In Theatre - BRICK FACADE FOR BACK OF SCREEN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
BRICK FACADE FOR BACK OF SCREEN - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - SCREEN FOUNDATION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
SCREEN FOUNDATION - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - SUPPORT - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
SUPPORT - PHOTO FROM WATER WINTER WONDERLAND
Vista Drive-In Theatre - TICKET LANE FROM JONI
TICKET LANE FROM JONI
Vista Drive-In Theatre -  REAR OF TICKET BOOTH FROM JONI
REAR OF TICKET BOOTH FROM JONI
Vista Drive-In Theatre - CONCESSION FROM JONI
CONCESSION FROM JONI
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
Vista Drive-In Theatre - SCREEN COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
SCREEN COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
VISTA TICKET BOOTH COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA MARQUEE COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
VISTA MARQUEE COURTESY JERRICA LEE & OUTDOOR MOOVIES
Vista Drive-In Theatre - FROM GRAND RAPIDS LIBRARY
FROM GRAND RAPIDS LIBRARY
Vista Drive-In Theatre - FROM GRAND RAPIDS LIBRARY
FROM GRAND RAPIDS LIBRARY
Vista Drive-In Theatre - FROM GRAND RAPIDS LIBRARY
FROM GRAND RAPIDS LIBRARY
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA
VISTA
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA
VISTA
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA
VISTA
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA
VISTA
Vista Drive-In Theatre - VISTA
VISTA
Vista Drive-In Theatre - AERIAL - PHOTO FROM TERRASERVER
AERIAL - PHOTO FROM TERRASERVER
Vista Drive-In Theatre - ARTICLE ON CLOSING
ARTICLE ON CLOSING

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