It’s Day 244 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and my 19th in Ontario. Thanks to the speedy 401 freeway, it took barely an hour to drive from the Mustang Drive-In, a few miles west of Picton, to the drive-in at Kingston Family FunWorld, in Kingston of course.
The KFFW today is primarily the result of the vision of Dan Wannemacher, who owned it from 1995 until he passed away in July 2016. But according to an excellent 50th anniversary article in The Whig-Standard, it opened in August 1966 as the 66 Drive-In. Just one year later, its owner, Famous Players, sold it to Premier Theatres, which owned and operated the Mustang Drive-In chain. Like most of the other theaters in the chain, it was soon renamed the Mustang.
At some point, the name changed from the Mustang to the KFFW. The Kingston Whig-Standard wrote that it was called the Mustang until 1991. That other, anniversary story said that Wannemacher came to town in 1991. A 2013 article said that he’d owned it “for 23 years”. Yet the KFFW web site says the Mustang folks operated that drive-in “under their name until 1993”, and that Wannemacher bought it in 1995 and renamed it.
Whenever it happened, once Wannemacher took over, he added plenty of stuff, quickly. Up went two more screens, probably in 1995, giving it the total of three it retains today. In went a go-cart track, mini golf, and batting cages.
In 2013, the KFFW went through a fund-raising period for digital projectors like so many other drive-ins. “That’s been the beautiful part that has kept me going, is the people telling me about the great times they’ve had there,” he told Kingston This Week. “I’ve had a wonderful experience just talking to people. A lot of people really love the drive-in. When I hear that, it keeps the heart ticking a little more.”
For that superb anniversary story, which I’ll link again because you really should go read it, Wannemacher said someone else would be running the KFFW in 2016. “I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “The drive-in will definitely be running next year, but the owner might be long gone.”
Wannemacher said that at some point during his final season, he planned to treat himself to a private viewing on his main 50-foot-high screen. “I put a movie on last year, after 11 o’clock, on the last night of the season,” but on one of the two smaller screens. “I just felt like watching a movie by myself.”
Just weeks after that interview, Wannemacher passed away from a sudden heart attack at age 59. Rest in peace.
Miles Today / Total: 55 / 28262 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Annabelle: Creation / 158
Nearby Restaurant: When I go to a brewpub, what I want are great bar food and fresh beer. The Kingston Brewing Company provides both. For the food, I had the mojo pork tacos on soft flour tortillas, and for the beer, I enjoyed the blueberry ale. And the raspberry wheat. After trying samples of a few others. Good thing it’s within walking distance of my hotel.
Where I Virtually Stayed: The Residence Inn Water’s Edge has a great view, and the stuff on the inside is pretty good too. Since it’s a Residence Inn, my room had a full kitchen and separate living area. A full hot breakfast buffet was waiting for me in the morning. It’s all good.
Only in Kingston: Kingston is home to Canada’s Penitentiary Museum, housed in the former warden’s residence of Canada’s first penitentiary. Retired prison guards give the guided tours (if you book in advance) through such collections as prisoner-crafted weaponry, implements of punishment, and personnel badges.
Next stop: Port Elmsley Drive-In Theatre, Perth ON.