81 Drive-In

6250 N. Broadway Street,
Wichita, KS 67219

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Sullivan Independent Theatres

Nearby Theaters

81 Drive-In exterior

The 81 Drive-In opened on August 15, 1946 with Kenny Baker & Belita in “Silver Skates”. It was the 2nd drive-in to open in the State of Kansas following the Broadway Auto Theatre, Wichita in 1952. It was closed down sometime in the 1980’s.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

kencmcintyre on February 14, 2008 at 7:04 am

Absolutely right. I failed to notice that the 81 opened in 1946. My mistake.

rbrtptrck on July 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Many, many wonderful stories and photos of Kansas theatres from Abilene to Yates Center can be found HERE<<<.
PLEASE copy this post and post it on every Kansas theatres page.
Thank you.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm

the 81 Drive-in hasn’t been mentioned on CT since 2008!It was owned by O.F.Sullivan and parked 600 cars.

kwilkin1962 on September 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm

The 81 Drive-In opened on August 15, 1946. It’s first showing was “Silver Skates” along with the 3 Stooges, a “Colortoon” and Late News.

Lyndon on January 11, 2014 at 3:09 am

For more memories of the 81 Drive In, see “I Used to Drag Douglas“

Lyndon on September 4, 2016 at 4:34 am

The drive-in craze hit Kansas in 1946 with the construction of Wichita’s 81 Drive-In on N. Broadway. See Bob Curtwright’s story in the active age, July 2015.

davidcoppock on November 12, 2018 at 5:32 am

Also opened with “Colorado fishing”. Site is now M. Bruenger Trucking Company.

MichaelKilgore on August 14, 2019 at 6:19 pm

A three-page story about Merta and Truman Slothower in the July 4, 1960 issue of Boxoffice included: “The 54 and 81 drive-in theatres were acquired in 1956 from Nu-Vue Theatres of Kansas City.”

rivest266 on January 28, 2021 at 7:58 am

Last season: 1971

dallasmovietheaters on November 4, 2022 at 6:48 am

Sullivan Independent Theatres opened the 81 Drive-In on August 15, 1946 with “The Queen of the Ice” Belita in “Silver Skates” supported by a Three Stooges shorts, and other short subjects. It was just the second ozoner in Kansas behind Wichita’s more primitive Broadway Auto Theatre.

The 81 was far more modern sporting the State of Kansas' largest neon sign (as of 1946/7) with varilite functionality making an evening entry visually pleasing. Unlike the Brodway, the 81 was modernized with speakers at every spot and, purportedly, its own patented ramp design.

The 81 Drive-In closed at the expiry of a 25-year leasing period with Dean Jones in “The Million Dollar Duck” and Walt Disney’s “King of th4 Grizzlies” on September 26, 1971. It was later razed.

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