Going to the drive-in

Local drive-in movie theater is a popular summer attraction


Summer is a prime time to watch the sunset beyond the horizon from the front seat of your car as the sky paints itself in hues of pink and orange. And once the sun goes down, you can watch a newly released film by turning your attention to the screen projecting in front of your windshield – that’s the convenience of a drive-in theater.

The Buffalo area takes movie going to a whole new level once summer hits with The Transit Drive-In, located in Lockport at 6655 South Transit Road. The theater offers movie screenings every night for locals to experience the movies in a classic way.

While surrounded by cars, parking at the drive-in can seem like being stuck in traffic. That is, if traffic allowed you to enjoy a summer blockbuster film on a huge screen from the comfort of your car with your favorite movie snacks.

The drive-in shows recent releases like Transformers: Age of Extinction and other summer titles like Dawn of Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The theater shows older movies on “Retro Movie Tuesdays,” which began on June 3 with a screening of The Breakfast Club and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Retro Movie Tuesdays continue throughout the summer until Aug. 26 with countless classics like Jurassic Park, The Goonies and The Lost Boys.

Like any other theater, there is a snack bar, a box office to buy tickets and multiple screens. Instead of grabbing seats, viewers choose the parking spot the perfect distance from the screen and tune in to the sound through their car’s radio.

“I love coming to this theater,” said Ilana Saffeir, a senior occupational therapy major. “It’s something different to do around Buffalo. Since you can really only go during the summer, it’s somewhere I make a point to go to at least once.”

Aside from putting a different spin on a classic pastime, the theater is full of history. he The Cohen family has owned The Transit Drive-In since it was purchased in 1957.

The theater regularly admits more than 1,000 attendees with their highest attendance during weekends. The Transit Drive-In was named the largest drive-in in New York in 2001 after the addition of a fourth screen. Some may say drive-ins are going out of business, but the Cohens have no intention of leaving the industry. They say they’re consistently coming up with new ways to attract audiences.

Rick Cohen, the current manager of the theater, recommends coming to the drive-in an hour early to find a good parking spot, buy dinner or snacks and enjoy the weather. It is easy to catch the sunset right before the films begin and the view of the sky from the theater is clear and remarkable.

To manage such an open area, The Transit Drive-In has laid down specific rules to ensure everyone there is safe and can enjoy the picture. Large vehicles are instructed to park in the back, and all cars must hold onto their admission passes. Patrons must park a safe distance away from other cars, and may not drive more than 10 miles per hour in the lot itself.

Even if you aren’t on campus or around Buffalo during the summer, the theater does not close right as summer ends. Students and community members can go to the theater while returning to the school during August and September.

“Even though I’m not in Buffalo over the summer, I’ve heard great things about the theater and definitely want to check it out,” said Jordan Alperin, a freshman accounting major. “There aren’t any drive-ins by me at home, and it gives me another thing to look forward to when next semester begins.”

Tickets are $9 each. The box office opens at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and at 8 p.m. the rest of the week. Though there are no daytime showings, tickets can be bought for a double feature at night.

Instead of being stuck indoors on a peaceful summer night, The Transit Drive-In gives the community an opportunity to enjoy the weather as well as a new or classic movie – or two.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com