Bay Drive-In

Route 26
Alexandria Bay, NY 13607

The Bay Drive-In Theater was one of the last New York Drive-Ins to be built during the drive-in craze of the 1940’s – 1960’s. Constructed in 1968 on 6 acres of land and featuring a single screen with a 300 car capacity, it was originally designed to replace the 1000 Island Drive-In that was torn down and is now part of Exit 50 on Interstate 81. That single screen provided entertainment for a generation. But by the early 1980’s it was a bit long in the tooth. Movie quality was dropping, patronage was dropping, and the plant and equipment was vintage Drive In (1950’s). Competition from VCR rentals was taking its toll.

TIME FOR A CHANGE

The current owners purchased the BDI in 1982 and faced a long uphill struggle to make it a viable operation. Even trying to obtain “first run” was a challenge when patronage is down and the movie houses don’t want to “waste” a print on a drive-in theater.

By 1992, with first run movies being shown again and patronage on the rise, the management embarked on a long overdue upgrade to the facility. The snackbar was completely rebuilt and enlarged, the restrooms were rebuilt and the only indoor seating area at a drive-in in New York was added.

This 60 seat mini theater seating area allows families to get out of their car and still watch the movie “on the big screen”.

At 4:20am on the morning of Saturday, July 15, 1995, they experienced Microburst 95, the worst wind storm in recent NY history. The theatre was extensively damaged including the building roof structure and the face of the screen. Within 9 days the theatre was back in full operation. When the movie, "Twister" was released in 1996, they had lived the experience shown at the drive-in theatre in that feature.

MORE SCREENS = MORE MOVIES
In 1999 a smaller second screen was added with the purchase of an adjacent parcel sized for 200 cars. They did lose two back rows in Cinema I, lowering the total capacity to about 550 cars.

The second screen went into operation July 30, 1999.. With the addition of another screen, 4 movies are now shown nightly and because of rotating movies between screens, they can provide an increased number of movie premiers.

In August, 2001 they opened a “County Fair” style Concession Stand for Cinema II serving premium fair style sandwiches along with all the regular Cinema I menu. A  full line of Pepsi products is available in Cinema II, as opposed to the Coke products available in the Cinema I Concession Stand.

In 2003 they were honored by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the 10 best Drive-ins in the country. On June 17th 2006 the new Cinema II restrooms were completed to shorten their patrons walk to a facility.  In 2007 the Cinema I restrooms were expanded and modernized. In 2010 the Cinema I Concession Stand was expanded.

For 2013, the long awaited "Bay Café" was added to the main concession stand. Once the old projection booth, this area allows patrons to sit inside and watch the movies in a 1950's Cafe setting.

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster
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