Jan. 8: Ocala Drive-In, Ocala FL

It’s Day Eight of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and time for my last stop in Florida. It took just over an hour to reach the Ocala Drive-In via I-75 from Dade City.

The Ocala opened in 1948 as the Dyers Drive-In. By the time it was listed in the 1955 Theatre Catalog, it was called the Ocala. The drive-in closed in 2003, but was brought back to life in 2011. I love to see old theaters rescued like that.

I just had to try the “Dogs in a Blanket” at the concession stand. Otherwise the fare is pretty standard with hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and popcorn. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

The Ocala has two screens. Thank goodness one of them had an early movie that I hadn’t seen yet: Assassin’s Creed. I hope I won’t have to watch Sing too many more times.

Miles Today / Total: 61 / 407 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Assassin’s Creed / 7

Nearby Restaurant: So. Many. Chain. Restaurants. A Subway next door, then the next closest are Sonic, LongHorn Steakhouse, and another Subway. Distance be darned, I fired up TripAdvisor and chose its third-best in Ocala (out of 369) – the Amrit Palace Indian Restaurant, even though it was six miles away.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I got lucky. One of the closest hotels to the Ocala Drive-In is a little hidden gem called the Silver Princess Motel. The rooms were less expensive than most of the place I’ve been staying, but there was decent internet access plus a microwave and fridge in my well-maintained room.

Only in Ocala: According to the Ocala Star-Banner, in September 2008 a man told the Marion County Sheriff’s Office that he had been robbed at gunpoint of $8000. After multiple deputies, including one in a helicopter, failed to find the suspect’s car, the “victim” admitted that he made up the story so he wouldn’t have to tell his wife he lost the cash to a “spiritual healer” scam artist.

Next Stop: Continental Drive In, Newton AL.