June 8: Falconwood, Bellevue NE

Outdoor screen with cars lined up

photo from the Falconwood Facebook page

It’s Day 159 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I doubled back from Newton IA, zooming west for two and a half hours on I-80 to the Falconwood in Bellevue NE, just south of Omaha.

This drive-in launched in what was Sokol Park in June 2016. (They changed their name sometime over the intervening winter.) Although they probably weren’t thinking about meeting any particular standard, it barely qualifies as a drive-in theater.

The Falconwood web site proclaims that “Falconwood Park is an all-encompassing arts and entertainment venue specializing in weddings, concerts, drive-in movies, and home of Hullabaloo Music Festival.” So movies are pretty low in the priority list. Patrons are allowed to park elsewhere and watch while sitting on the grass. The movies are old, and the erratic schedule rarely includes weekend nights.

“It would be hard to sustain a business as a drive-in alone,” co-owner Brandon Miller told the Omaha World-Herald in May 2016. “But in our case, we’ve got so many other events this summer. Weddings, concerts, festivals, company picnics and family reunions. That’s going to allow us to throw in these drive-in movie nights and see how it goes.”

Anyway, I think the Falconwood qualifies. Movies are open to the public to drive over and watch from their cars. There’s a screen in a permanent location. The schedule includes more than a couple of nights a year. So even though it looks almost nothing like a 1950s drive-in, it’s still a drive-in, and it’s a wonderful service for the ozoner-starved residents of the Omaha area.

This new wave of drive-in has some intriguing differences, including dinner from food trucks, alcohol from a bar, and the usual suspects at the concession stand. Tickets are sold on the Eventbrite smartphone app. And just like at every other drive-in, folks show up to have a good time.

As I said, the drive-in at Falconwood is unusual in that it typically doesn’t show movies on weekends. That’s why I went a little out of my way to make sure that I caught it on a Thursday movie night. Rogue One was the first movie that I saw when I started my odyssey in Florida in January, and I was a little surprised to see it again.

Miles Today / Total:  176 / 20640 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Rogue One / 75

Nearby Restaurant: I’d been sustaining myself on comfort food from small-town diners, so it was time for a change. Korean Grill Egg Rolls to Go is about as far from a diner as you can get. Amazingly authentic Korean food in large portions (okay, the large portions match the diner) and fresh ginger tea. It’s a great way to keep my taste buds from complacency!

Where I Virtually Stayed: Oh, Hampton Inn, how I had missed you! A sure sign of larger cities or busier highways, this Hampton delivered on all of its midscale, friendly Hampton-ness. Cookies and drinks waiting for me at check-in. A mini-fridge and microwave in my room. The standard hot Hampton breakfast in a spacious breakfast room. For all the days I’ve been on the road, this was the hotel equivalent of comfort food.

Only in Bellevue: As mentioned in Roadside America, at the northwest corner of Offutt Air Force Base you can gaze upon the very first military gray B-52G from 1959. It’s mounted on a pedestal, behind a fence, and it’s amongst some trees to discourage you from taxiing it away.

Next stop: Elko Drive-In Theater, Elko New Market MN.