Apr. 18: Starlite Drive-In Theatre, Wichita KS

Starlite drive-in at sunset

photo from the Starlite Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Day 108 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. After leaving the Midway Drive-In Theatre near Osawatomie, I soon picked up the Kansas Turnpike and finished my two-hour drive to the Starlite Drive-In Theatre in Wichita.

The Starlite began its life as the single-screen Rainbow in 1953. The drive-in underwent extensive renovation in 1974, including a large new projection and concession building and a second screen, and became the Landmark Twin. In the intervening years, the name morphed into the Landmark Starlite and then to just the Starlite that it is today.

As Wichita On The Cheap pointed out, the Starlite has changed to Carload pricing during this spring. Wouldn’t it be nice that every drive-in that mentioned a carload would point back to this site? By all accounts, they run a first-class concession stand, so I’m a little sad that I’m not able to sample it this trip.

The Starlite is only open weekends this time of year, leaving me with a Tuesday night watching TV in my room. At least I was able to get an early start for the next morning’s drive.

Miles Today / Total:  159 / 11661 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 51

Nearby Restaurant: It’s got buffet in its name and it’s close to the Starlite, so the New China Buffet was my natural choice. As promised, it provided all the Chinese standards that I’d expect in America, plus a nice salad bar and a few surprises. And best of all, it’s a buffet!

Where I Virtually Stayed: The closest hotel was the Holiday Inn Express South, and I was glad to be back with that chain again. It’s right by the Kansas Turnpike, so there were plenty of other weary travelers there. I loved the Keurig coffee maker in my room and the biscuits and gravy at breakfast. Sometimes it’s nice to be somewhere that feels familiar.

Only in Wichita: Wichita was home to the world’s first Pizza Hut, and Wichita State University has moved the original building to its campus. It doesn’t look like a hut and it doesn’t look like the classic Pizza Hut restaurant shape – it’s just a small brick building. The founders named it Pizza Hut because their sign only had room for nine characters.

Next stop: Kanopolis Drive In Theatre, Kanopolis KS.