Sands Drive-In

2451 Needles Highway,
Needles, CA 92363

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Western Amusement Company Inc.

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No theaters found within 30 miles

Sands Drive-In

The Sands Drive-In opened on July 31, 1953, showing Richard Quine in “Fighting Command”(aka We’ve Never Been Licked) & Loretta Young in “Fury In The Sky”(aka Ladies Courageous", and a color cartoon. As first reported in my book, Drive-Ins of Route 66:

“This was a small drive-in on Route 66 at the west edge of town, built and owned by Western Amusement, which also owned the indoor Needles Theatre. Ed Crouch managed the Sands Drive-In from the time it was opened until March 1954, when J. W. Speer transferred in to manage both Needles theaters. The drive-in was included in Western’s holdings in Motion Picture Almanac circuit lists through 1959”.

It had closed by 1969, and its remains were visible for several years after it closed, but there’s nothing left of the Sands Drive-In today. The site is occupied by a truck stop featuring Spike, Snoopy’s skinny brother from the comic strip Peanuts.

Contributed by Michael Kilgore

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

dansdriveintheater on September 5, 2019 at 1:06 am

The outline still remains it is also a shell now

MichaelKilgore on April 20, 2023 at 3:21 am

In the revised second edition of “Drive-Ins of Route 66,” I passed along a revelation suggested by tireless Needles historians: The Sands operated for less than one season. Its final ad in the Needles Desert Star listed movies through Oct. 15, 1953. Its manager transferred to Oregon the following February. The Sands wasn’t mentioned in the Desert Star for years, even as the indoor theater in town, owned by the same company, continued to advertise.

The historians pointed out to me that Needles gets hot in the summer. Very, very hot. Maybe it wasn’t the best place for a drive-in.

Kenmore on April 20, 2023 at 4:43 am

The outline, ramps, and concession stand/projector booth are still present in 1969, but the screen is gone.

By 1976, just about everything was gone save for the entrance and exit roads. They disappeared as a Best Western was built over them by 1992. At that point, all traces of the drive-in were removed.

Today, most of the property is empty and used as a parking area for truck.

Jamey_monroe45 on October 25, 2023 at 7:05 am

The address above is incorrect.

2371 Needles Hwy, Needles, CA 92363.

This is the Best Western Inn. The theatre entrance road was next to it. It is not at Shell which is due north.

Please update.

MichaelKilgore on October 25, 2023 at 10:34 pm

Most of the old Sands viewing area is the truck parking area behind and belonging to the Shell station at 2451 Needles Highway. But you’re right, the back edge of the Best Western property covers the location of the Sands' screen, and the side covers the former entrance road. Although either address points to the right place, the Best Western’s at 2371 Needles Highway is probably better.

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