Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelton, Wash. Credit: Nikki McCoy
I’d never seen my van so full of pillows and blankets. I was pretty sure there was even a bean bag chair somewhere in the back. No, we weren’t going camping. My family was instead packed up for a cozy night at the Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelton.
For a not-too-big outlay of cash, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for the old-school summer fun of watching a drive-in movie. Plus, it meant a night of fun with the whole family, always a special treat.
Read on for our Skyline experience and then find a list of drive-in movie theaters (and pop-up opportunities) around the sound.
Getting your tickets
For the Skyline, book your tickets online, in advance and pay per person in your car. It’s $8 for ages 12 and older; $3 for kids 6–11; and free for ages 5 and younger. (Click on the Now Showing or Coming Soon links on the website to find date-specific ticket links.) Follow Skyline’s Facebook page for movie selections and buy tickets early.
Arriving and parking at the drive-in
At the entrance, show your ticket on your phone. Gates open at 7 or 8 p.m. (check the time when you purchase tickets online) and movies start at dusk, which is closer to 9 p.m. these days. Employees direct guests to park in different locations according to vehicle size. If you’re planning to meet up with another family, make sure you have similar-sized vehicles to be able to park next to each other. We met our friends at a nearby gas station and caravanned into the lot. We also made sure to arrive early so we’d have lots of time to visit and settle in before showtime.
Each showing at the Skyline is a double feature. We watched “The Goonies” — an ’80s movie classic.
The drive-in experience
We parked our van with the rear gate facing the screen so we could relax with the aforementioned pillows, blankets and bean bag chair. We found that having our car doors and windows open was a great way to socialize and enjoy the summer evening. Some folks sit in their truck beds; others just sit in the driver and passenger seats of their car.
Don’t miss a trip to the snack bar. Snacks and food are the main source of revenue for the theater, so we recommend stocking up (and note that no outside food or drink is allowed). Our carloads sent the dads in for provisions, and they returned with armloads of popcorn, pretzels and drinks.
Once dusk settles in and the movie is about to start, tune your car radio to 89.1 FM. If your car doesn’t have an FM receiver, you can rent one from the snack bar. And if you happen to accidentally drain your car battery, helpful staff members are onsite with portable battery jumpers if needed.
Cars can leave anytime during a movie or at the intermission. If you do stay for the second feature, plan for a 2 a.m. drive home. Skyline also does a Sunday Switch, with the screening order of the double feature reversed. This makes it possible to see each half of the double feature without the 2 a.m. finish time. The Skyline season opens in spring with weekend showings only, then by summer movies will show 7 nights a week. Check out the Skyline’s Coming Soon page to plan ahead.
The Skyline experience was great for our family, and brought us together for a meet-up with friends. And now, much to my heart’s delight, the Goonies’ catchphrase “Hey, you guuuuuuys” is now a common refrain in our household.
Drive-in movie theaters around Seattle and Western Washington
Seattle-area outdoor movies for summer 2023
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2020 and just updated for 2023.