Drive-in theaters are as much a part of the Motor City as Motown music, mighty automotive manufacturing and the magnificent murals that cover much of Detroit these days.
One of the best, and the most outstanding in terms of its architecture and history, is Dearborn’s Ford-Wyoming Drive-In theater. Its size at five screens is impressive enough. But add its location at the border of Detroit and Dearborn, and you have the makings of a site where all of Metro Detroit can come together and watch a movie.
What is the history of the Ford-Wyoming? Well, there’s a whole book on the subject (hint: I wrote it). But the back cover of the book tells you a lot of what you need to know:
“Shortly after World War II, three Dearborn brothers bought a vacant parcel to build a drive-in theater. Local groups opposed them, fearing such a place would elicit immoral behavior. But the Clark family persevered to see its movie palace become a Metro Detroit mainstay, hosting celebrities, rock stars and a never-ending line of families with kids in footie pajamas. A handshake transferred ownership to movie magnate Charles Shafer and his business partner, Bill Clark, who expanded the theater to a massive nine screens. But blockbusters and hordes of teens couldn’t mitigate the effects of Detroit’s decline, auto company bankruptcies and Michigan’s economic malaise. Despite it all, the mighty Ford-Wyoming kept the movies showing, bringing a bit of Hollywood glamour to the gritty Motor City.”
Thanks to a change in Michigan’s coronavirus quarantines, you can again go to the Ford-Wyoming and enjoy a movie under the stars – all in accord with social distancing. Here are some of the rules you’ll need to follow, but they’re well worth the time and trouble. Hanging out in your car watching a movie is a cultural mainstay of the past few generations, and everyone should experience it.
Ford Wyoming Rules and Regulations:
· Due to social distancing rules, the Ford Wyoming will be operating at half capacity. Only one car is permitted between two speaker poles.
· Drive-In Speakers are currently NOT available for use. Only radio sound is used in each theatre. In the event your car radio is unavailable, please bring a portable radio.
· Please bring your own face mask. Face masks are required for entering the concession stand or restrooms.
· The concession stand will be open. At this time, we are offering a limited menu of items. A limited number of people will be permitted in the concession stand at any one time. Only one member of your group will be allowed in the concession stand at one time. Please wear a mask and practice 6-feet social distancing while in or around the concession stand.
· Restrooms will have every other stall/sink open. Restroom attendants will be on sight to sanitize and ensure a limited number of patrons are in the restrooms at one time. Also, a limited number of porta johns are available. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing while using the restrooms.
· Sitting outside of your vehicle is not allowed. You must watch the movie inside your vehicle. Sitting in your pick-up bed is allowed. On vehicles with a rear hatch, the hatch must be level with the roof of your vehicle so as not to block the view of the vehicle behind you.
· No one can be outside of their vehicles unless going to or from the concession stand or restrooms. Please practice 6-feet social distancing at all times while attending the Ford Wyoming Drive–In.