On May 17th members of the local media as well as a few drive-in aficionados were treated to a preview of a new concept in drive-in movies.

Located in one section of the parking lot on the Orange County Fairgrounds, a group of baby boomers have given birth to the NEW Star Vu Drive-In. Mary Jean Duran, Jeff Teller & Bob Deutsch (forgive me if I missed someone) decided that Orange County had long been without the drive-in experience. They have now changed that for the foreseeable future. Not since the last drive-in in the O.C. was demolished more than 10 years ago has there been a drive-in to cater to local families and those from other neighboring cities. The closest they could come to was the Vineland Drive-In in the City of Industry or the Mission Tiki in Montclair.

Not anymore. The Star Vu Drive-In is located near the main entrance of the O.C. Fair Grounds. Below you will see a snapshot of the welcome card that was presented to us upon arrival.

The Westside Grill, Snack Shack as well as the restroom building are all existing structures that have existed since the fair grounds were upgraded several years ago. The Westside Grill building also houses the projection booth. Below is a short video clip that was shot with a small digital camera on preview night. It will give you an idea on the set up for this drive-in.

Several members of the media and their families were in attendance and the management of the drive-in spared no expense. The Snack Shack served up hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, soft drinks, bottled water, finger pastries and a large celebratory cake that was cut and served to all the evenings guests. Oh and did I mention this was all complimentary.

Pre show entertainment was provided by a Dj/light Show. And Elvis also made and appearance to help kickoff the inaugural season of the Star Vu Drive-in. Oh and before I forget and in conjunction with the evenings screening of Shrek 2, Austin Powers was in attendance to spread around some good MOJO for a long and profitable life as SoCal’s newest drive-in.

Post script critique: This is a work in progress and the owners will fully admit to this. They were very open to suggestions and I am sure if you attended last night or this weekends showings you will begin to see changes in ticket taking, parking assignments and other infrastructure details that dedicated drive-in theaters may not need to deal with.

The one suggestion I have is that the larger SUV/Truck parking may need to be assigned because the sight lines may not be the best for these larger vehicles. What i mean is the screen, although large enough, does not sit tall enough to provide a clear view if you were sitting in a high profile vehicle and you happened to be parked behind another high profile vehicle. These larger cars may need to be staggered as the rows grow from 2 to 3 to 4 deep.

As far as picture brightness is concerned, some of us have been spoiled with the wonderful Technalight presentations we’ve been accustomed to at the Vineland, Mission Tiki and the Rubidoux. And although the Star Vu does have a fantastic state-of-the-art projection system, the 7,000 watt lamp house is really going to need to work to overcome the outside lighting that will bleed onto that screen. Don’t know if Technalight is a workable solution to this but maybe it’s something that can be looked at as they get further down the road.

Yet, I cannot stress enough how much we need to support this venture. With the soaring cost of land in major urban areas and the loss of enough open land, this type of drive-in model may be the norm for future drive-ins in metropolitan areas for years to come.


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