Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre begins season

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
The back of the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre screen tower

The Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre is set to begin its 2007 season on Saturday, March 16, with Flushed Away beginning at 7:30 p.m. and Rocky Balboa at 9:05 p.m.

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
Theatre marquee

Current admission price for the drive-in on 3336 Raleigh Road on Business US 1 in near Henderson is $5.00 per adult or child twelve and older. Children under twelve are free. For the price of admission, patrons get to see double features.

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
Ticket booth

Patrons can call 252.438.6959 for current movie information as well.

To sweeten the opening of the drive-in season, the theatre is sponsoring a contest for which the top prize is a $100 gift card good towards an airfare on Southwest Airlines. One entry form is available each time an admission is paid.

Law enforcement personnel and fire fighters need only show their credentials for free admission to the theatre.

The theatre management books current features and attempts to exhibit family-related films. Its booking policy is to exhibit double features and to show features that are rated G, PG, PG-13 and soft “R” rated films. It does not exhibit hard-core violent or sexually-oriented R or NC-17 features. As is traditional with drive-in formats, the family-oriented feature is shown first, and the more adult-themed movie is shown afterwards, allowing parental choice and discretion.

In order to maintain a family atmosphere, the theatre has a set of policies to which patrons may easily adhere.

The theatre operates on weekends only during the spring and fall months and five days a week (Wednesday through Sunday) during the summer months.

The drive-in’s concession stand offers a full line of food choices, including hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, popcorn, candy, soft drinks, and ice cream. Outside food is frowned upon. A complete menu may be viewed here.

The movie theatre now honors Visa and MasterCard as part of its overall improvement of service.

The drive-in has an interesting history. It was originally opened as the MOON-GLO Outdoor Theatre on July 15, 1949. It was owned by the Stevenson family until 1977 when it was sold to the Lyles family.

At the time of the 1977 sale, the theatre name was changed to its current name, the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre. The Lyles’ ownership ended in 2004 when it was sold to Vito Adragna. Adragna operated it until February 2006 when it was purchased by Jim and Megan Kopp. The Kopps purchased the business via eBay.

Megan and Jim Kopp are current residents of Warrenton, Virginia. They commute to the area to operate the theatre which is staffed by local residents.

Jim is an avid drive-in theatre fan. He grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, which at one time had 35 drive-ins. He remembers going to the drive-in with his family. In the 80’s and 90’s, Jim began to photograph and research drive-in theatres and fed photos and information to the three national websites dedicated to the drive-in theatre. He was an active participant in Hull’s Angels, the first non-profit organization to own a drive-in theatre in Lexington, VA (Hull’s Drive-In Theatre).

Jim’s information has been used by USA TODAY; NBC’s Today Show; READERS DIGEST; US AIR for its in-flight magazine, ATTACHE; movie trade magazines; and IN FOCUS in reporting on the history and current status of drive-in theatres in the US.

In 2006, NBC Washington, and its DC affiliate, WRC-TV, filmed a segment on drive-in theatres and interviewed Jim, making reference to his ownership of the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre. That story was picked up on the wire and broadcast by other NBC affiliates.

Jim recently retired in September 2006 from the Library of Congress.

Megan grew up in Lancaster, Ohio and attended the local Skyview Cruise-In Theatre. Megan became a drive-in fan when she met Jim.

Since purchasing the theatre, the Kopps have made extensive renovations and improvements on the historic Vance establishment. As part of the renovation, a playground has been added to the theatre, the concession stand has been upgraded and improved, speaker stands have been painted and row marker lights have been added.

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
Little Editor enjoys the new playground

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
New playground hobby horses

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
Concession artwork

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
Screen tower and front of theatre

Trees and brush have been cleared from the front and sides of the lot, which can accommodate 265 cars, and the rows have been neatly gravelled and raked.

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre
Rows and markers

Restrooms have been equipped with carpets and fresh flowers.

Henderson residents Becki and Lenny Derr have created a series of food images that will be attached to the drive-in fence and concession building to make it more festive.

Lawn chairs and glider swings are provided for those who wish to sit outside of their cars, as well as loaner radios for those who do not care to use their car radios for sound.

Planned improvements in the 2007 season include a new paint scheme for the screen tower. Local Henderson resident, Craig Askew, suggested the improvements. The new tower image will resemble a 35mm filmstrip with neon enhancements. It will be the only drive-in tower in the nation to look like a giant filmstrip.

Drive-in towers in the 40’s and 50’s were often painted or decorated and became known as drive-in “artwork”. Unfortunately, there are not many screen towers left with such unique features.

In the near future, the drive-in will become a wi-fi “hotspot” for those who like to surf the Internet while watching films.

The theatre is a member of NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) and UDITOA (United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association) It is also a proud member of the Vance-Granville Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact the Kopps at outdoortheatre@aol.com.