Video: Let’s Return To The Silver Moon

It’s been over a year since I made my virtual visit to the Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre in Lakeland FL. Such innocent times! It was the first week of my Drive-in-a-Day odyssey, back when I was still skimping on historical details, and I hadn’t yet noticed how cool it is to embed a video with my visit report.

Today I’ll correct that last omission. Here’s a YouTube video describing a typical night at the Silver Moon, supplemented by old photos and video clips. Enjoy!

Jan. 8: Ocala Drive-In, Ocala FL

It’s Day Eight of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and time for my last stop in Florida. It took just over an hour to reach the Ocala Drive-In via I-75 from Dade City.

The Ocala opened in 1948 as the Dyers Drive-In. By the time it was listed in the 1955 Theatre Catalog, it was called the Ocala. The drive-in closed in 2003, but was brought back to life in 2011. I love to see old theaters rescued like that.

I just had to try the “Dogs in a Blanket” at the concession stand. Otherwise the fare is pretty standard with hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and popcorn. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

The Ocala has two screens. Thank goodness one of them had an early movie that I hadn’t seen yet: Assassin’s Creed. I hope I won’t have to watch Sing too many more times.

Miles Today / Total: 61 / 407 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Assassin’s Creed / 7

Nearby Restaurant: So. Many. Chain. Restaurants. A Subway next door, then the next closest are Sonic, LongHorn Steakhouse, and another Subway. Distance be darned, I fired up TripAdvisor and chose its third-best in Ocala (out of 369) – the Amrit Palace Indian Restaurant, even though it was six miles away.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I got lucky. One of the closest hotels to the Ocala Drive-In is a little hidden gem called the Silver Princess Motel. The rooms were less expensive than most of the place I’ve been staying, but there was decent internet access plus a microwave and fridge in my well-maintained room.

Only in Ocala: According to the Ocala Star-Banner, in September 2008 a man told the Marion County Sheriff’s Office that he had been robbed at gunpoint of $8000. After multiple deputies, including one in a helicopter, failed to find the suspect’s car, the “victim” admitted that he made up the story so he wouldn’t have to tell his wife he lost the cash to a “spiritual healer” scam artist.

Next Stop: Continental Drive In, Newton AL.

Jan. 7: Joy-Lan Drive-In, Dade City FL

It’s Day Seven of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, and the drives between theaters continue to be mostly short. It took just 45 minutes to go from Lakeland to the Joy-Lan Drive-In just north of Dade City FL.

The Joy-Lan is a sibling to yesterday’s Silver Moon, both owned by Harold Spears’ company Sun South Theatres. You can read the full history of the Joy-Lan on its About Us page.

The snack bar, rebuilt after a fire in 2000, is almost the same as the Silver Moon’s, including breakfast. Sadly, no Budweiser this time.

The Joy-Lan has one screen. I’m glad I chose Rogue One yesterday, because my only choice this time was Sing.

Wrapping up Week One of the odyssey, I’m happy to say that I caught six active movie nights out of seven, which is a good start on my quest to get at least 200 movie nights in 2017. With all these quick hops between Florida drive-ins, they’re starting to blur together. I think I’ll sleep in Sunday morning.

Miles Today / Total: 32 / 346 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Sing / 6

Nearby Restaurant: The closest is The Black Eyed Pea, part of a chain of relaxed casual comfort-food restaurants. I’m avoiding most chains, but there’s a Black Eyed Pea that I frequent near Carload World Headquarters, and I could really use a taste of home.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I played it safe again with the Hampton Inn four miles south on the other side of town. It’s adjacent to a Dunkin’ Donuts, so I was able to stock essential supplies to keep me going the next morning.

Only in Dade City: According to the Tampa Bay Times, in September 2008 a 450-pound Dade City man in a motorized wheelchair chased and shot a neighbor in the armpit. The bad blood had started over a year earlier over a $20 dispute about the price of a shed.

Next Stop: Ocala Drive-In, Ocala FL.