It's impossible for me to write an un-biased post about Stardust Drive-In. No, they didn't pay me. No, I don't hold any ownership of the business.
I'm just basically in love with the place.
When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, drive-in movies were everywhere. There were at least 2 close to my home in Hendersonville. My mom would dress me and my brother in our pajamas (because we always fell asleep during the 2nd movie) and take us to the movies. Almost any movie you can name that was famous in that era, I can remember seeing on a giant outdoor screen. When I was a teen, my friends and I went to the drive in all the time. We didn't even care if the movie was good. It was just a place where we could be with our friends for a reasonable price and not get in any trouble. (We were very polite teens…I promise!) But as I grew older, drive in movies seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate. In fact, by the time I moved to Mt Juliet in 2008, the only drive in I was aware of was located in Kentucky. And then someone told me about the Stardust. Ya'll, can I just tell you that summertime in my house has been infinitely better since that revelation?
The Stardust Drive In is located in Watertown, Tennessee which is a small town (1.2 square miles /1400 residents) in Wilson County. It's not ‘next door' for most middle Tennesseans. But don't let that keep you away. Make the trip just once and if you don't leave in love with the drive in, we'll just agree to disagree 🙂
The drive-in is a great excursion for the whole family. It’s even more fun if you plan a trip with a group of friends. Unlike a regular movie theater, the drive–in offers plenty of time to socialize. Plus the kids don’t have to sit in one spot for two whole hours! The Stardust combines the nostalgia of a drive-in movie with the latest technology in sound and picture. Remember that speaker you used to have to hang on your car door? Those are a thing of the past. The sound is now broadcast through your car’s stereo system.
The Stardust features two screens. Both movies are the same ‘first run’ films that would be showing at other theaters. Gone are the days of carload pricing. At Stardust, you pay for a ticket per person but you get two movies for one price so it’s a bargain. (And you don't have to even attempt to sneak anyone in your trunk!)
Having a great family night at the drive-in movie takes just a bit of advance planning. Remember these tips before you head out:
- Make sure you arrive EARLY. Movies start at dusk which will be different times throughout the season. Plan to arrive at least one hour prior to showtime (even longer if it's a popular movie or the first few nights of a release). Lines can be long and you will want to get a good spot to park. Vans, trucks and SUVs are limited to the back rows so make a real effort to be early if you drive this kind of vehicle. I drive a mini van so I show up when the gates open! During the summer, when movies are shown 7 days a week, the first movie starts around 8:30PM. That means the second movie won't start until around 11. Check their Facebook page too.
- Bring something to entertain your little kids during the gap between arrival and movie time. Bubbles, books, etc. My kids are all teens now so they basically just stare at their cell phones until the movie starts 🙂
- Bring chairs, blankets, or my favorite – a blow up air mattress for the back of your pickup truck! The Stardust has lots of grass so it's easy to fit your seating in your car's space without blocking aisles or another car's spot.
- Concessions are available and they offer standard movie options (cokes, popcorn, candy) in addition to some other fun choices like doughnuts, burgers and chicken. You can also buy a food permit for $6 that will allow you to bring your own food into the drive-in. Definitely consider this option. You can have a leisurely picnic with your family without standing in concession lines. I'm not gonna lie. I do both. I buy the pass to bring in food and then invariably I end up in the concession line lured by the siren call of buttery popcorn.
- Bring blankets or jackets for each member of your family. No matter how warm the weather is, it cools off quickly once the sun goes down. By the time the second movie starts, it can be downright chilly.
- Don’t forget the bug spray!
- Last, but not least, bring your patience. If you choose to go to the Stardust on the Friday that a blockbuster is released, IT'S GONNA BE BUSY! Lines will be long. It will probably sell out. And it's gonna take a while to get your popcorn at concessions. My favorite night to go is Monday or Tuesday. Less crowded, more fun!
Family Fun Facts
Open 7 nights a week during summer. Open Fridays & Saturdays during Spring & Fall. Check their website for specifics.
Movie information line – (615) 237-0077
Adults (age 12 & up ) – $7.50 Kids (age 6 – 11) – $5.50 Kids 5 & under – Free