Rodeo Drive-In Theater
7369 Washington 3, Bremerton, WA 98312
(Taken from the Rodeo Drive In Website)
The original “Rodeo Motor Movies” was built in 1949 as part of the United Drive-Ins chain (the Forman-Pacific folks of California). Its single field could hold over 600 cars, with concession and projection facilities in the front-center of the field (shown below). Our county would eventually be home to 3 drive-ins; including the “Kitsap Lake Drive-In”, which was located closer to the Bremerton city limits, and the family-owned “Big Bear Drive-In”, located between Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island.
In 1977, the Rodeo and Kitsap Lake Drive-Ins were sold to Cascade/Seven Gables Cinemas, a small chain with headquarters in Seattle. In addition to these two drive-ins, Cascade operated several indoor theatres in Seattle and Tacoma.
In 1978, Cascade logged out the back property of the Rodeo and added 2 more fields, a new snack bar and a new boxoffice complex. One year later, they closed the Kitsap Lake Drive-In, eventually making way for other commercial development there. In 1986, the Rodeo Drive-In was sold to Jack and Cindy Ondracek & family, and Cascade’s remaining theatres became part of California’s “Landmark Cinemas” chain. The Big Bear Drive-In closed in 1994, and the Rodeo became the only outdoor theatre serving Kitsap and north Mason Counties.
Today, with 3 screens and a total car capacity of about 1,000, the Rodeo is the largest outdoor theatre complex in Washington State and by far the largest and oldest family owned drive-in in the Northwest.
Nationally, about 400 drive-ins remain in the US, accounting for about 900 outdoor screens. Drive-in theatres have enjoyed a “rediscovery” of sorts. Today, drive-ins are nearly as well attended as when your parents… maybe even your grandparents spent their weekend evenings at the outdoor picture show.
Drive-in theatres are special places, with a nostalgic atmosphere that can’t be found in an indoor theatre. Stop by soon, and discover the magic of movies under the stars at the Rodeo Drive-In!