Highway 18 Drive In Open for the Season! Lake Country Family Fun Jefferson County

Highway 18 Drive In Open for the Season!

Have your kids ever wanted to go to a Drive In Theater, but you didn’t know if one still existed, or was even close to you in Wisconsin? Well there is! The Highway 18 Drive In Theater is located in Jefferson, Wisconsin at the corner of Hwy 18 and 89 and is scheduled to OPEN FOR THE SEASON on Friday, May 7, 2021. They are making sure that all the licensing and proper protocols are put in place prior to opening. Initially, they will be open on weekends only, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays.

HIghway 18 Drive In Upcoming Shows:

May 7 – 9: The Croods, A New Age (PG) + Despicable Me (PG)
May 14-16: Gremlins (PG) + Caddyshack (R)
May 21-23: Godzilla v Kong (PG-13) + Mortal Kombat (R) 
May 28-30: Jaws (PG) + Jurassic Park (PG-13) + Duel (PG)
June 4: Spirit Untamed (PG) + Shrek (PG)
June 18: Luca (Not Rated)
June 25: Fast and Furious 9 (PG-13) Nobody (R)
July 2: The Boss Baby Family Business (PG) F9 The Fast Saga (PG-13)
July 9: The Boss Baby Family Business (PG) F9 The Fast Saga (PG-13)
July 16: Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG) The Goonies (PG)
July 23: Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG) The Goonies (PG)
July 30: Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG)  The Goonies (PG)
August 20: Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins (PG-13) Major League (R)
September 17: The Boss Baby: Family Business (PG)
October 8: No Time to Die (PG-13)

Please see this note from owner, Lee B. regarding 2021 policies and updates:

We’ll be back to 2 cars between poles, which still leaves 6 to 10 feet between vehicles.  We’re still going to serve concessions at our East and West windows/doors, but this may also change as the season wears on based on conditions.  We still may restrict larger vehicles to the red poles on busy nights (our normal policy).  While on the lot, we ask those who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask and exercise social distancing.  Everyone in the bathrooms must wear a mask for now.

For Labor Day weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; September 3rd, 4th, and 5th, we’re doing our usual holiday Triple Feature.  Starting off is the family movie “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird”, a “comedy, kids & family” film rated G.  Everything is fine on Sesame Street until an officious social worker, Miss Finch (voice of Sally Kellerman), shows up to decree that Sesame Street’s mixture of colorful creatures and humans isn’t an appropriate environment for Big Bird and that he should only be with birds like himself.  So Big bird is sent off to Oceanview, Illinois (get it? A town named Oceanview in the middle of Illinois?) to live with the DoDo family (with their DoDO kids “Donnie’ and ‘Marie’).  But Big Bird doesn’t like his adopted family’s lifestyle and he misses his friends, so he sets out on a journey to return to Sesame Street.  But Big Bird is pursued by Miss Finch and the Sleaze Brothers (Joe Flaherty and Rick Moranis of SCTV fame) who want to exploit him by trapping him in a travelling carny show.  This is a wonderful family film that’s all about love of family and friends and embracing the eccentricities of others (even a grouch, like Oscar).  Although a movie kids will enjoy, there is a lot of sophisticated adult humor that should entertain all.  Miss Finch is the perfect parody of a stuffy, government bureaucrat and everyone knows a family on their block like the DoDos.  Lots of good music too; Waylon Jennings makes a great cameo as a singing truck driver who helps Big Bird along the way.

For our second feature, we’re running a film that can only be truly appreciated by watching outdoors on a giant Drive In screen: “Twister”, an “action” movie rated PG-13.  The plot follows scientist “storm chasers’ as they attempt to place a new data gathering device into an oncoming tornado.  Lots of great weather scenes in this one: my favorite is the one where a tornado tears up a Drive In theatre screen as the movie is still playing.  Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, and Cary Elwes star.

For our third feature, we’re showing one of the most classic science fiction films from the 1950’s: “Them”, not rated.  A sheriff (James Whitmore) finds a little girl alone in the desert.  But where’s her family?  The catatonic little girl can only say “Them”.  Soon others go missing and it’s discovered that local atomic testing has created a nest of giant ants (radiation from atomic testing turning common insects and animals into giant monsters was a common theme in 1950’s sci-fi movies).  The locals succeed in destroying the creatures only to learn that the queen was able to fly away and escape.  The final battle to save mankind takes place in the tunnels under Los Angeles.  This movie won an academy award for best special effects in 1954.

Sunday night we’ll be having our annual Dusk-to-Dawn show: once a staple of Drive in theatres, but now rarely seen.  In addition to the three movies mentioned, we’ll keep running movies to dawn.  The additional movies are pot luck; you’ll know what they are when you see them (another Dusk-to-Dawn tradition), but they will be retro Drive In classics.  We’ll also feature lots of campy trailers from the 50’s as well as classic intermission clips and a couple music videos shot at our theatre.  Everyone who makes it to dawn gets a free breakfast.

We’ll be closing for the season after Labor Day.  This has been a rough year for the movie theatre business.  The slower than expected recovery from the Covid pandemic has kept many indoor screens closed and studios have been delaying their expensive tentpole releases.  As such, there hasn’t been much good product to play this summer.  The landscape has been further clouded by a dramatic shift in the business model of most studios.  All the major studios, except Sony, have their own streaming platforms (e.g. Disney has Disney+, Warner Brothers has HBO Max) and what few good movies they have are being released on their streaming platforms at the same time they get released to theatres (called ‘day and date’ releasing) in order to build up their subscription services.  In some cases, they are releasing movies to their streaming service exclusively and bypassing theatres entirely.  This, in turn, cannibalizes the business theatres get from showing the films.  In the past, theatres got a 90 exclusive window to show first run movies before they went to DVD or on-line.  That is no longer the case.  The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has pushed back against this practice and there is some talk of future compromise, but we’ll see.  Whatever happens, we’ll be back next Spring.  See you all then.

I have a lot of fun memories from going to the Highway 18 Drive In. Fun Fact – it was one of the first dates I went on with my late husband. So, if you haven’t already, go make some fun memories with your family!! It’s a great way to spend a summer night – even while social distancing.

For more information, the movies are updated on their website. They announce when they can due to the regulations from the film companies.

The prices for tickets are as follows:

Adults(12+) $ 10.00
Children(5-11) $ 6.00
Children(4 & Under) Free

There is a strict no-carry in policy. So bring some cash and grab some concessions and support this long-lasting business. For a full listing of their policies, check here or see below. They do accept Visa and Mastercard.

Here are some tips from our readers: 

  • Be familiar with your vehicle’s lights and switches and safety features prior to going (in case the back hatch can’t stay open without beeping, etc…)
    • Possibly bring string to keep hatch too high for others parked behind your vehicle.
  • Consider bringing chairs, blankets, bug spray and a boombox/stereo to watch the movie from outside your parked vehicle.
  • Arrive early to grab a great spot.

You can join the conversation on Facebook here.

HIGHWAY 18 DRIVE IN Policy Details:

Keep your ticket stubs. In the event of a problem, your stub is your proof that you paid proper admission for that evening.

No refunds.  No rain checks.  

No leaving and re entering the theatre.  Re entering cars will be charged another admission. 

Video cameras or any other recording devices are prohibited on theatre grounds in support of anti-piracy laws.

No carry in food or drink (of any kind, size, or amount) may be brought onto theatre property, regardless of your intentions to consume these items.  No exceptions and no excuses. This includes bottled water, doggie bags from dinner, leftover items from the picnic/beach/birthday party, groceries, etc. Baby formula and whole fruit (not juice) and vegetables for small children are allowed. If you have any carryin items in your car, you may leave them at the box office and pick them up on your way out. Once past the box office, if you are caught with carryin items, you may stay if you donate all items to The Jefferson Food Pantry. If you refuse to donate your items, become argumentative, or are otherwise verbally abusive to our staff, you will be ejected from theatre grounds without a refund. Anyone ejected from the theatre may not return that same evening. If you have any special needs, you must contact us via email at least 24 hours in advance. In your email you must specify what items you want to bring in. Please note that we have many items in our concession stand that are gluten-free and dairy/casein-free. We will not honor any special needs or requests if you do not contact us in advance and specify the exact items you want to bring in.

Anyone in possession of alcohol (of any amount and regardless of whether you intend to consume it) or glass bottles on theatre property will be ejected immediately without a refund. We will confiscate alcohol from minors. If you have any questions about this policy, please email us before you come here.

Firearms, or any other dangerous weapons, are prohibited on theatre property. City, County, and State police officers, and federal law enforcement agents may bring firearms onto theatre property if they alert us at the box office and show proper identification.

On The Lot  Speed limit is 5 MPH. 

For the safety and security of our customers, staff, and theatre property, the lot is under video and audio surveillance.

The playground is closed once the show starts. Parents are responsible for supervising their children at all times.  Children must wear shoes on the lot.  

Only one space per vehicle.  Please park within two feet of the pole so you do not block another parking space.  If you wish to sit outside, do so in front of your vehicle. No saving spaces.  Spaces are on a first come, first served basis.

Large vehicles must park at the red poles – row five (5) on back – on designated evenings.  (Large vehicles are those not classified as either a car/sedan or wagon as defined by Edmunds.com and include vans, SUVs, trucks, jeeps, etc.). Oversized vehicles must park in the back as directed by our parking attendants.  Designated evenings are Fridays and Saturdays, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and holiday nights as designated.  We reserve the right to repark any vehicle. 

Hatchbacks must be tied down even with the roof line.  Bring some bungy cords or we will provide twine at no charge. No sitting on the roof of your vehicle. 

Please – no headlights or stepping on your brakes (tail lights) when the movie is on.  Patrons are responsible for knowing the operation of their vehicle. Your owner’s manual should have information on how to disable headlights/daytime running lights.  If you cannot disable your headlights, you may not run your engine. Do not shine flashlights on the screen.  Laser pointers are strictly forbidden.

Smoking (including electronic cigarettes) is not allowed in any building or within 15 feet of building entrances. Smoking and running your car engine is allowed only to the extent you do not bother other customers.

Pets are allowed.  However, owners are completely responsible for the behavior of their pets.   Dogs must be leashed and under firm control when outside of the car. No animals are allowed inside the concession stand as per Health Department requirements. You may walk your dog in the east side of the theatre away from the parking ramps, but you must clean up after your pet. If your dog likes to bark at passer-bys, please leave them at home. Dogs are not allowed in the playground area (between Row 1 and the screen).

No loud radio/CD playing. No Littering.  Please place your trash in one of the many trash receptacles we have about the lot.

We do not tolerate foul or abusive language. 

We provide the movie soundtrack via F.M. broadcast to your car radio. Although we have speakers in the first six rows, we do not guarantee that a speaker will be available. We suggest that you arrive in a vehicle that has a working F.M. radio. Generally you can hear the movie in the forward half of the theatre and there is a walk up ramp in the front where you can sit and listen to the movie. But we will not give a refund to anyone because their radio doesn’t work and a speaker is not available. Also remember that we do not rent or loan out portable radios.

We may ask to inspect a vehicle if we suspect a serious violation of theatre policies (e.g. people sneaking in without paying or contraband such as carry in food/drink, alcohol, illegal drugs, weapons, or video equipment).  Any patrons who refuse this request will be ejected from theatre grounds without a refund.  If you have any questions about this policy, please email us.

We ask you to be courteous to other patrons and theatre staff.  We try to accommodate customer needs, but we will enforce our policies.  Management reserves the right to define and uniformly enforce acceptable and unacceptable behavior beyond these defined policies and house rules. Anyone who refuses to abide by our policies or follow the direction of our staff, will be ejected from the theatre without a refund.  If you have any questions, please see one of our staff members (if they are wearing a t-shirt, it will have the word “Staff” on the front).  For more information, visit our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, or email us.


2 thoughts on “Highway 18 Drive In Open for the Season!”

    1. Movies start at Dusk. Generally dusk occurs about twenty minutes after sunset, but can vary depending on weather (Cloudy, rainy, sunny). Note that in June and July, it doesn’t get dark until 9:00 p.m. or later. In late August or September, it gets dark around 7:30 p.m. or earlier.

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