Dearborn’s Ford-Wyoming Drive-in Theatre #1 nationally!

Off Season by Derek Farr

Off Season by Derek Farr

The Freep tweets that Dearborn’s Ford-Wyoming Drive-in Theatre was the top grossing movie theater in the nation last weekend. The Henry Ford shares a little of the history of this Michigan icon:

The Ford-Wyoming drive-in was built by Charlie Schafer, opening for business in May 1950. He and his family grew a veritable movie house empire in the Metro-Detroit area under the umbrella of Wayne Amusements, but the Ford-Wyoming is the only evidence of the legacy that remains. When it was first built, there was only one screen—the backside of the immense Streamline Moderne structure that sits at the front of the property. One screen with accommodation for 750 cars grew to nine screens and a 3,000-car capacity, and the theatre began to make the claim of being “the largest drive-in in the world.” Today the theatre has downsized to five screens.

Read more at The Henry Ford & visit the Ford Wyoming Drive-in online for current shows.

Derek took this photo way back in 2012. See lots more in his massive Detroit album on Flickr.

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Ford-Wyoming Drive-in Theater in Dearborn

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Ford-Wyoming Drive-in, photo by Gallopping Geezer

When I first saw this pic I thought it was yet another abandoned drive-in, but it turns out that the Ford Drive-in in Dearborn is open nightly with 5 screens! Their website just lists movies, but the Ford Drive-in entry at Cinema Treasures explains:

Opened in 1950, as a single-screener, with a colossal, late Streamline-style screen, the Ford-Wyoming could originally accommodate around 750 cars. It also once advertised a kiddie playground and boat rides for children.

The drive-in was acquired by Wayne Amusements in 1981, and by 1990, and grown to five screens. Another four screens were built during the early-1990’s.

Today, the still-very popular drive-in is the largest in the United States, parking-wise, with space for over 3,000 cars. (The largest drive-in screen-wise is the Thunderbird in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with 13 screens).

The Ford-Wyoming is open year-round, a rarity for drive-ins, and supplies car heaters along with speakers during the winter season.

Screens 6-9 were closed and demolished in May 2010, and in June 2010 it was renamed Ford Drive-In

WaterWinterWonderland has an entry with tons more information and photos  of the Ford-Wyoming Drive-in including some nice aerial views.

Check Gary’s photo out big as a drive-in screen and see more in his Ford-Wyoming slideshow.

More Michigan movie pics on Michigan in Pictures including a feature on another metro Detroit drive-in, the Wayne Drive-in.