81 Drive-In

2650 S. 9th Street,
Salina, KS 67401

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dickinson Theatres

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81 Drive-In

The 500-car 81 Drive-In opened in 1950 as an independent operation. When it closed in 1987 it was being operated by Dickinson Theatres.

In 1996 work was started to develop the former site into a shopping center where the Burger King, among other stores, sits today.

Contributed by rpierce

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

rivest266 on June 5, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Listings for this drive-in stopped in 1987.

JoelWeide on January 13, 2016 at 6:30 am

Following link, Thanks!

dallasmovietheaters on October 27, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Appears to have closed after a September 5, 1987 Arnold triple feature of Commando, Predator and Raw Deal. The Dickinson chain decided not open for the 1988 season.

MichaelKilgore on November 4, 2019 at 6:41 pm

In the July 22, 1988 article announcing that the 81 would not reopen, the Hutchinson News wrote that the drive-in “first opened in the late 1940s”.

Kenmore on May 4, 2022 at 8:40 pm

In the 1954 aerial, you can see a loop that extends north from the entrance road and back. By 1966, the loop had faded considerably and by 1981 it was basically gone.

I do not see any playground equipment or small train which was a common feature at drive-ins to entertain the kids. This appears to be an overflow area for cars waiting to enter the drive-in without having to sit on the highway.

But if anyone knows its true purpose, I hope it can be posted here. It is an unusual feature.

MichaelKilgore on May 4, 2022 at 9:12 pm

I can’t speak to this particular loop, but it’s consistent with a car holding area for folks waiting to buy tickets at the box office. These were especially common when the drive-in entrance was on an actual highway, such as the 81’s. State highway officials would start getting unhappy about cars stopped on the highway, and this was often a retrofitted solution. Later in the decade, these kinds of lengthy stretches between the road and the box office were usually part of the original design.

Kenmore on May 5, 2022 at 4:39 am

Then this would be different since the loop was incorporated into the original design and then abandoned before the drive-in closed. Most likely because it fell out of use.

When I worked at the 11th Street Drive-In oh, so many years ago, the cars would be sitting on 11th street backed up for a half-mile or more. Needless to say, the police was not amused.

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