CKWS, Kingston ON’s News Leader, reported some sad news yesterday evening. The Kingston Family FunWorld, which includes a three-screen drive-in, has been sold, and the story sounds like the new buyer isn’t interested in the place for its amusement facilities.
The drive-in has been around for “almost five decades,” according to the CKWS story, owned and operated by the Wannemacher family. Under Dan Wannemacher’s guidance, they added a go-kart track, batting cages, and mini golf. But Dan passed away suddenly three years ago, and the family says it’s time to move on.
The drive-in will stay open through Sept. 1. “The best thing for me is knowing how much this place impacted a lot of Kingstonians and I think we’ll always be in peoples’ hearts,” said Trish Wannemacher.
I wish I could link to the video, which shows a few glimpses of what might be the FunWorld’s final days, but you can watch it here. If you want to see the whole article, then you know you need to go read it!
The Havelock Family Drive-In just west of Havelock ON was always a labor of love for Gordon Henderson, a part-time gig that he hoped would grow into a full-sized retirement. Last month, that hope expired when Henderson announced on Facebook, “Well it’s official. The Havelock Family Drive In is officially closed. The property has sold.” Apparently the buyer won’t be operating a drive-in there.
Henderson built the Havelock in 2010, and said he had wanted to do that ever since he was a teenager. I mentioned that plus a lot more when I stopped by during my virtual drive-in-a-day odyssey in 2017. In retrospect, that was just before things started going south.
According to Kawartha Now, Henderson launched a GoFundMe campaign that fall seeking $75,000, stating that he was “in a very hard situation” and “faced with the devastating news that I am in jeopardy of losing my lifelong dream my beloved drive-in.” It raised less than $5,000. The Havelock was dark for most of 2018, eventually opening for a few weekends in the fall. And now it’s gone for good.
Let these drive-in closures remind you to seize the opportunity whenever you get a chance to take in a night under the stars. Buy some popcorn and sodas, and thank the proprietors for being there. Like everything else, it’s always temporary, and you never really know how long you’ve got.
The CBC reported this week of a closure with a possible silver lining in Quebec. The Templeton Drive-In Theatre, or Ciné-Parc Templeton, will not reopen this spring.
As I wrote during my virtual visit there in 2017, the Templeton had been open since 1974, always with the same owner, Paul Touchet. It was the only drive-in in North America, or probably anywhere, that showed movies in French and English, one screen each.
The good news, according to the CBC report, is that Touchet sold the Templeton’s equipment to the Belle Neige ski resort in Val-Morin, northwest of Montreal, and the resort plans to open its own drive-in later this spring. As always, I hope for the best.