Going to the drive-in has been on my bucket list for awhile and this summer I finally checked it off my list. If you’re in the Champaign-Urbana area, Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In is located in Gibson City and only a 30-minute drive away. It’s fun for the whole family or, for this article in particular, makes for a great date night too.
Called a “Twin Drive-In” because of its two screens, Harvest Moon has been around since 1954, but it wasn’t until the 90s that it received its second screen. Earlier in the season (opening around March 30th) they are open weeknights and some Sundays. Currently, they are open weekends only (Friday and Saturday) through the end of their season (October 7th). Their Facebook page is very active (giveaways and updates galore) and their website is kept up to date as well. Admission for adults is $7 and kids (4-11) $6. You can bring in outside food or drink, but there is a $5 food charge per car. It’s really a great bonus because a coupon for either two small drinks or one large popcorn is attached to each permit. Score! Please keep in mind that the ticket booth is cash only! We were scrambling for change but found enough to hit the mark. For two people and an outside food/drink fee it came out to $19. Good news: The concessions do take cards as long as it’s over $5.
Screen one and screen two face opposite each other with the concessions and restrooms located in the center. We parked the car with some time to spare so even though we brought our own snacks/drinks to save some money we still wanted to check out the on-site food situation. There are three buildings that serve food: The Tiki Hut, Snack Bar, and Burger Barn. All the menus are listed on their website along with prices. I always need movie theater popcorn, so I used our coupon for a large bag of buttery goodness and topped it off with peanut M & M’s ($2) — salty and sweet for the win. It wasn’t until later, after I was already full of popcorn, candy, etc., that I realized the Burger Barn has something called the Un-Salad — a basket full of French fries and cheese curds topped with chili, cheese, and ranch dressing. Holy heart attack on a plate! Perhaps we’ll make it back again before the season's end to give it a go. I have to try it for research purposes, right? If sweets are more your thing, the Snack Bar has also started serving Cinnabon Gooey Bites. Between slushies, snow cones, caramel corn, pizza, nachos, and corn dogs...there’s something for everyone.
Back at the car, we were settled in with all our goodies, taking in the movie and the stars (it was such a clear and perfect night). Each movie is on a different FM station. You can bring your own radio, listen in your car, or rent a radio for $2. You can sit in your car or bring blankets and lawn chairs; just be mindful of blocking others around you. There’s a short intermission for bathroom breaks and/or to grab more snacks if you choose. You may want to remember to bring some bug spray, but they do sell that, too.
There are still a couple months left to enjoy the drive-in and even some of the fun upcoming events they have planned. For instance, there’s few more classic car cruise-ins planned. Seems like the coolest way to enjoy the drive-in movie theater if you ask me. Whether it be hot rods, muscle cars, or classic trucks/cars — the driver gets in for free. There’s also a Rocky Horror Picture Show weekend, Flashback Weekend, and their annual Frightfest Celebration. Check out their website for details on these events and more.
I had a great first experience at the drive-in. It wasn’t too crowded; we found a nice spot right up front and the staff was friendly and fast to get the orders up. I think it would be fun to get a car full of friends together for some of these upcoming events, too. For me, I found the drive-in to be a little too distracting to attempt to follow along with a movie I hadn’t seen before. But for some of the classics that are coming up that I’ve seen a million times, it’d be a great atmosphere to hang out while also watching your favorites on the big screen. You can show up early and there are play areas for kids and you can play lawn games. You can even grill, just make sure it’s out before showtime. I can’t wait to go again!
Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theater
1175 S Sangamon Ave
(Route 47 S, across from Pizza Hut)
Hours vary throughout the season
Photos by Bobbie Bonebrake