Now playing: Drive-In theater the M.A.I.N. attraction in Mineral Wells

Photo submitted by J.D. Nicolais Two children enjoy their sno-cones at the M.A.I.N Movies Drive-In Theater in Mineral Wells.

MINERAL WELLS, W.Va.–Though they are far from their 1950’s golden era, some drive-in theaters are still up and running, continuing to serve the nostalgia of outdoor movie going.

According to the United Drive-In Theatre Association there are only 324 drive-in theaters across the United States.

One of those drive-ins is the M.A.I.N Movies Drive-In Theatre in Mineral Wells.

The owners said it’s important to keep the business going for the sake of the families in the local area.

“What’s there to do for kids around here?” said  J.D Nicolais. “When we show movies, we don’t see cell phones. It’s a time for family and for us that’s four hours of you spending time with your family and it makes it worth it.”

Dawn Murphy, 40, of Vincent he prefers the outdoor environment of a drive-in movie theater.

“We can lay a blanket out on the ground and watch the movies that way, versus sitting in chairs in a building,” said Murphy. “And with the big screen outside, it’s so much more enjoyable, just simply because it’s outside.”

Nicolais said the outdoor environment is a more inviting location for children.

“It’s the simple nostalgia of open air. Kids can play, talk and ask questions without being hushed,” he said. “The vibe outside is different, you can sit in chairs, on blankets, or turn on the heat or AC in your car.”

Owners J.D. and Leann Nicolais opened the drive-in at the end of August and have seen people from all over the area parking their cars to watch family-friendly films at their theater.

After the couple lost their daughter Arabella Grace, they decided it was time to focus on the true meaning of family.

“When we lost our daughter we decided it was time to find something that was more family-oriented,” said J.D.

The couple previously owned Adventure Quest Inflatables for three-and-a-half years.

After the Jungle Drive-In in Parkersburg closed, the Belpre couple decided it was time to open another fun outlet for families.

“There was absolutely a need for one,” J.D. said. “We would go every week to the Jungle Drive-In, and after it was shut down we kept hearing people say that they wanted another local drive-in.”

Angelina Burdette, 28, of Parkersburg said she was happy to see another theater make its way back to the area.

“My family and I attended the old Jungle Drive-In, and I remember going to it quite often,” said Burdette. “Now that there is a drive-in back in town, it’s great.”

The outdoor movie theater is located at the Wood County 4-H campgrounds on Butcher Bend Road in Mineral Wells and can hold a maximum of 350 vehicles.

The owners started the theater from the ground up.

For months they searched for a proper location, advertising and even built their own 24-foot movie screen.

“It’s been a learning experience even for us. There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about,” said J.D.

Within the first few weeks after the grand opening the owners had a line of cars out to the end of the road.

Burdette said each visit to the outdoor theater has been a pleasant experience.

“The owners were there to welcome you and everyone is very polite and respectful,” she said.

For the month of October the drive-in theater made sure to create fun activities at the location as well as showing some of the most popular Halloween films.

The theater showed everything from “Hocus Pocus” to “The Conjuring” and even gave moviegoers the opportunity to walk down the theater’s haunted trail.

The theater is open every Friday through Sunday until Nov. 13.

The cost is $8 per car to see two movies in one evening, and on Sunday customers pay $5 per car to see one movie.

“We don’t care how many people are in a car,” said J.D. “We actually had a church bus come through and we only charged them $8. We try to be as fair as possible.”

The owners explained that the $8 a car pays for the movie copyright charges, and through selling concessions, the couple is able to make their income.

“If all of those people turn around and buy food it helps us out,” he said. “We try to make it affordable.”

The theater sells DiCarlo’s Pizza, a variety of candy, popcorn and beverages for any customers wanting to dine at the drive-in.

The drive-in theater will be showing fan-favorite Christmas classics for a few weeks in November.

According to the owners, they will be showing movies such as “Home Alone,” “Santa Clause” and “The Polar Express.”

J.D. said he hopes to continue the business and is currently looking for a more permanent location for the theater.

“The screen is temporary and completely movable,” he said. “But the goal is to find a permanent location that will allow us to have a larger, permanent screen.”

Murphy said he encourages anyone who hasn’t been to the drive-in to plan a trip and see everything that is offered.

“My family hopes they continue to do this,” said Murphy. “We tell everyone we know, and a lot of people we have met that haven’t heard about M.A.I.N Movies, we invite them out for a weekend.”

No matter the amount of cars or how much money is made, at the end of the day the owner of the M.A.I.N. Movies Drive-In Theater wants families to experience an activity that they enjoy so much.

“There have been times when we’ve only had seven cars in here, and we lost some money, but those seven cars had an amazing time, and that’s what keeps us going,” said J.D.

M.A.I.N Movies Schedule:

– All movies will begin at 6:45 p.m. The gates open at 5 p.m.

– Monday-Friday is $8 per car.

– Sunday is $5 per car.

– The drive-in theater is located at 2207 Butcher Bend Road in Mineral Wells.

– Saturday: “Santa Clause”/ “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

– Sunday: “Elf.”

– Nov. 11: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”/ “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

– Nov. 12: “Polar Express”/ “Home Alone.”

– Nov. 13: “Miracle on 34th Street.”

– Concessions will be available as well as hot chocolate.

Source: J.D. Nicolais.


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