There aren’t too many drive-ins that have had three names. The Madera opened as the El Rio Drive-In in 1948. According to the drive-in’s page at CinemaTreasures, it was purchased by the Gran brothers in 1972. From there, all I know is what I read in my reference books. Some time between 1964 and 1984, possibly at the time of the sale, the name changed to the Park Vu Drive-In. It became the Madera after 1995 but when? This 2003 photo shows a Madera Drive-In sign at the ticket booth, but this 2005 photo still shows a faded Park Vu sign.
When was the second screen added? That 2003 photo shows the smaller second screen in the background, just as it looks today. The Park Vu was listed as a single-screen theater in 1984, so either the second was added within the following two decades or that listing was inaccurate.
What’s worse than seeing the same movie four nights in a row? If it’s good, like The Lego Batman Movie, it’s worse when there are no movies at all. The Madera will reopen in “Spring 2017,” but instead of meeting new friends at the concession stand, I had to spend this Valentine’s night alone.
Miles Today / Total: 155 / 5281 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 33
Nearby Restaurant: It had been too long since I’d had some decent hummus. (Yes, I like hummus.) I was really happy to find a hidden gem of a restaurant in Madera, the Kebab Grill. Sure, my chicken kebab was warm and spicy and yummy, but what I remember most was my side dish of hummus and pita slices for dipping. There’s nothing quite like it.
Where I Virtually Stayed: It was just three miles up the road, in daylight since the Madera Drive-In was still closed for the season, so the Hampton Inn was a nice, safe choice. Clean room, fridge and microwave, and a nice breakfast in the morning.
Only in Madera: The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians would like to build a “Las Vegas-style” casino on a 305-acre site just north of Madera. That plan hit a roadblock last December when an appeals court invalidated Gov. Jerry Brown’s authorization to use the land for gaming. Some Madera residents objected to the approval process for this parcel of land that’s 36 miles from the tribe’s home, According to the Fresno Bee, “The North Fork tribe and the federal government wanted to use the Madera-area land for gaming because the tribe has no land other than an area designated for housing.”
Next Stop: Capitol 6 Drive-In, San Jose CA.