STEPHENS CITY — A community staple will reopen for business on May 1.
The Family Drive-In Theater near Stephens City announced this week that it will resume its 64th season after suspending operations in mid-March over coronavirus concerns.
Owner Jim Kopp said the theater at 5890 Valley Pike received permission from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office to resume business as an outdoor activity “some time ago” but decided to remain closed with the hope of “doing the right thing” during the governor’s stay-at-home orders and temporary closure of nonessential businesses. The Family Drive-In also has been cleared to open by the Lord Fairfax Health District, a Family Drive-In news release states.
Kopp said drive-in owners in Virginia were talking among themselves after the governor’s initial orders and one of them decided to speak with the governor’s office and found out all the drive-ins would be permitted to stay open. A few, like the Family Drive-In, decided to stay closed.
Many drive-ins around the country are now reopening by following social distancing guidelines and working with their local health departments.
“If the drive-ins can help lead the way to get the theater business back in business, we hope folks will go to the movies again,” Kopp said.
Indoor movie theaters were deemed a nonessential business per Northam’s order. The closure of nonessential businesses in Virginia remains in effect until May 8.
Because indoor theaters remain closed, when the Family Drive-In resumes operations on May 1, it will be the only operating movie theater in the Washington, D.C., metro area, as it is the only remaining drive-in theater in the region, the release states.
But the Family Drive-In will be operating under modifications to ensure safety. These include: showing single features; selling tickets online only; using the Fan Food app for concession purchases, with just one person per vehicle picking up concessions via a pick-up window; allowing outside food/drink with a $10 charge; closing playgrounds and picnic tables; requiring patrons to stay in their vehicles or sit directly in front of their vehicles with no socializing with other patrons; limiting just one vehicle per set of speaker poles; requiring patrons to listen to movie sound via their vehicle radio or portable radio; limiting restroom usage to one person at a time; and smoking in designated areas only. Pets will still be permitted.
“We will be very cautious about creating a safe environment for folks to come to the movies. If anyone can’t follow the rules, they’ll be asked to leave,” Kopp said. “We want the patrons and the community to feel safe.”
Starting May 1, the Family Drive-In will be showing “Trolls World Tour” on Screen One and Disney/Pixar’s “Onward” on Screen Two.
The theater will open at 7 p.m., with movies beginning at 8:30 p.m. The ticket price is $7.
Kopp also said Wednesdays will be Senior Night and Thursdays will be First Responder Night, with a ticket price of $5.