Dec. 19: Super 322 Drive-In Theatre, Woodland PA

It’s Day 353 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Thanks to the miracle of I-80, it took me less than an hour to drive from the Moonlite Drive-In Theatre just west of Brookville PA to the Super 322 Drive-In Theatre in the unincorporated community of Woodland PA.

After a few weeks of drive-in web sites with inaccurate history pages or limited history pages or no history pages, it was so nice to find the Super 322. Its history page is fairly thorough, and every detail I’ve found independently checks out. Here’s what it says, along with my parenthetical comments.

The Super 322 Drive-in Theatre was opened on May 26, 1950, built by the Theodore Grance Outdoor Theatre Co. Ownership changed hands a few times (although Grance was still listed as the owner in the 1966 Motion Picture Almanac) until being bought in the 1970s by Royer and Favuzza from the Bellefonte area. (Probably Frank Royer and Joseph Favuzza, both linked to the Midway Drive-In in Mifflintown.) They made improvements including AM radio; the Super 322 was Pennsylvania’s second drive-in to add an AM radio sound system. The removal of external speakers increased capacity (from 600 cars, according to old reference books) to about 650 cars. In the 1980s, FM stereo sound capabilities were added.

After working for over 20 years at the theatre, Bill Frankhouser, together with his wife Barb, purchased the Super 322 (from “Mr. Favuzza” in 2001, according to a 2013 article in GANT Daily). They have also made improvements including a new marquee complete with a colorful neon sign. In 2001, the Super 322 Drive-in Theatre was granted eligibility to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the Pennsylvania Museum Commission. In 2005, one the original neon signs was back in use after being restored. It features pink neon. The entrance lights have been replaced as has been the entire fence at the back of the field. The ramps have all been graded and re-shaped so you can enjoy the best view of the big screen. The ticket booth was replaced in 2010. The Super 322 opened for the 2014 season in digital, having the projector holding the record for the brightest light on the planet!! (End of self-history.)

I wish that every drive-in’s history page was as thorough as the Super 322’s. A 600-car lot was unusually large for a rural drive-in in the 1950s; I wonder why Grance and company built it that big. Also, there were a surprising number of “Super” + Highway number drive-ins listed in Pennsylvania. I wonder what was up with all that?

The Super 322 closed for the season in September. I’m glad it promised to reopen next spring.

Miles Today / Total: 48 / 39313 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 200

Nearby Restaurant: The closest restaurant to the Super 322 is Gio’s BBQ, and it would be worth visiting even if it weren’t so close. I had a platter with chicken and pork, but I especially enjoyed the BBQ baked beans. And the French fries were an excellent way of transferring more dipped sauce into my mouth.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Google said the closest hotels were in Clearfield, and one of those was a Hampton Inn, so that was the end of that deliberation. There were cookies and coffee at check-in, and possibly all day. At some point, I had to go to my king bed room, which had all the modern amenities. Breakfast in the morning was the typical high Hampton standard. Same old (good) stuff.

Only in Woodland: Over in Clearfield, Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub has a tradition worthy of Roadside America. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere, with little publicity, Denny’s has “the World’s Largest Burgers”. In 1998 Denny Liegey introduced “Ye Olde 96er,” which is nine pounds altogether, six of it beef. Guinness calls it the “largest hamburger commercially available,” and their certificate hangs prominently in the dining room. Competitive eaters have another name for it: “the Holy Grail of the burger world.”

Next stop: Pike Drive In Theatre, Montgomery PA.