Sunday, July 12, 2009

Culture Club...Part 3

Part 3 of my guide to cheap and exciting things to do in the Houston area saw me do something I've wanted to do for a long time - a drive-in movie.

Like most people, I had no idea there was a drive-in theatre in the area until a lad at work mentioned that he'd taken his family last weekend. When he sent me the link to the website I was very excited and couldn't wait to phone my Wife and tell her about it. She was equally excited and we decided we would go this weekend.

The Showboat Drive-in is located in Hockley, just outside Houston and it only took us around 25 minutes to get there from our house.

We weren't sure what to expect, or how busy it would be so we aimed to get there just after the gates opened at 7pm. As it wasn't as far away as we thought, we actually got there around 7.10 and there were already people there, although it covers such a large area that I know next time we can get there a little later.

It costs $5 per person, with kids $4 and babies are free. They ask that you don't take your own food as there is a concession stand but there were no formal checks and we were able to take in a cooler with some bottles of water hidden under our blankets.

There are two screens showing different films and you actually get two films for the entrance fee. We were on the front screen and our double bill was "Transformers 2" followed by "Drag me to hell". The other screen was showing "Ice Age 3" and "Night at the Museum 2" (which we'd already seen).

The films start 'at dusk', although this was 9.10pm last night, so you do have some time to kill waiting for it to go dark. There is a park area for kids in front of the screen with swings and various other activities and people took their own balls etc to keep the kids entertained. As I mentioned, there is a place to get something to eat, burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, drinks etc and of course popcorn and other snacks. This is how they make their money but it is reasonably priced.

To listen to the sound, you just tune your radio to the relevant frequency. If your car battery runs down they will give you a jump. I only noticed one car that wouldn't start and that was before the first film even started so wasn't caused by having the radio on for a couple of hours.

It's up to you how you actually watch the film. Some people stayed in their car, others took chairs and sat outside. We started off with the back of the car facing the screen intending to sit or lie there but we soon realised this wouldn't be too comfortable, especially considering Transformers 2 is two and a half hours long! I turned the car around and we were comfy enough just sitting in the car with the seats back to give us plenty of room.

Transformers 2 finished around 11.45pm and a lot of people left after the first film, especially a lot with kids. We decided to stay for "Drag me to hell", mainly out of curiosity of what it would be like to watch a horror film outside, at midnight, in the middle of nowhere, with a drive down winding country roads to get back to civilisation.

The film started at midnight so we had enough time for a let stretch and toilet stop and we were actually surprised by how many people stayed for the second film.

We were finished around 1.30am which is a late night these days but we'd had a great time and the novelty of it all had kept us awake.

I think it was the experience rather than the films we saw. They were ok, but it was so new and exciting that it probably wouldn't matter what we were watching, we'd still have a great time.

Even thought it was a late night, it is still July in Texas so it was warm. You can't have your engine running during the films so we opened all of the windows hoping for a breeze.

I'd definitely recommend the drive-in. You can't argue with two films for $5. I would suggest getting there before 8pm to get a good spot but there was still plenty of room when the film started. The parking area covers a large space so if you want to get close you should get there early. We were on the third row in the centre and had a great view. The second row would be just as good but I wouldn't want to be much further back. The rows are slightly raised so which ever way you park your car, you're looking up towards the screen.

I bet it would be nice to go a bit later in the year when it's a little cooler, and when it goes darker earlier so you're not getting home at 2am.

The Showboat is open Wednesday to Sunday and the films change weekly (although some films are on for more than a week). The website is updated each Tuesday with the films they are showing.

Here I am early on waiting for it to get dark:

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