This year, 2020 has been a real slow burner. Lock down, doom and gloom, everything shut and people going stir crazy. Then someone looks at the situation and pulls something together that makes the world feel a little bit ‘normal’. I take my hat of the the Drive and Dine Theatre team who saw the problem and came up with a great solution.
Celebrating a birthday during a crisis, I had to come up with something exciting and different. My days were spent trawling the internet for something that would lift spirits and give someone, something to look forward to. Listening to the radio, I heard the presenters talk about an American style drive in cinema event. A quick look on the seetickets website and there it was, the Drive and Dine Bath.
Having got onto the website, there were all sorts of movies to watch, Back to the future, Grease and even some of the latest movies 1916 and Sonic were there. Clicking on the movies gave me times and dates, which were over the weekend of 11th and 12th July. As I clicked through the movies, it was obvious that this was a popular gig, finding the Mama Mia movie still had tickets, I knew I had to grab them fast. Three tickets bought, two adults and one child and I parted with £40. Tickets were printed and added into the birthday card as a surprise.
The gift went down a treat, everyone was happy with the idea of a drive in and all we had to do was wait for the weekend to come. To make it extra special I was able to get hold of a Lexus UX for the weekend so that we could do it in style.
The weekend was coming up and I had loads of reminder emails, including the offer to order food which will be delivered to your car. Considering this was a keep-your-distance event I was interested in how this was going to work. Were there toilets, concessions, what if it was that bad and I wanted to leave, could I get my car out?
The movie setup
11th of July came and I drove to Bath Racecourse, where from the main road the event was well signposted. Following the signs I drove around to the rear car park, where traffic marshals were waiting and willing to wave cars on. When I got to the front, the car registration was checked off and I was told to drive into the parking field and follow the directions given by the people in the tabard’s.
It was all very easy. I drove into my spot, the handbrake was on and it was the first time I could see what was going to happen. There was a big screen ahead of me and a crate just to the side of the drivers door. When the marshal moved off I was invited to take the bag from the crate and use the headphones that were supplied. Being that there were three of us, an extra set had to be sourced and this was done painlessly.
The three of us sat in the car and played with the headphones, they were noise cancelling and bluetooth enabled. Music and announcements were being played so we could adjust the volume and get them comfy before the movies started.
There was an obvious problem, the person in the back did not have a clear view. The car was not raised and the windscreen was too low. It was such a shame, a small ramp that cars could drive on to would have prevented this. The event was clearly a front seat event.
Sat in the car the movie started. I was worried that the screen would be blurred, or the daylight would kill the colour and it was be a dark blurry screen. It wasn’t, there had been a lot of money spent on this kit, and next to the screen were banners, sponsored by Lexus.
Families had come to the event and had bought picnic blankets and chairs. They all sat outside their cars on the grass, which made the drive in thing a little off putting and distracting.
The sound quality was good however now and again the headphones would go quiet but it did not detract from the enjoyment of the movie. The headphone did get a bit uncomfortable after a while and a bit sweaty as it was a hot day. I had hoped that they would have pumped the sound out on an FM channel and we could all listen to it through the car radio.
The screen was great, a few night time scenes in the movie made it too dark to watch but again it was an experience and these little niggles did not detract form the whole event.
The emails that I had received had asked if I wanted food, burgers or salads. I was worried about the car and decided not to partake. Those that did, I saw food being delivered to their cars and it looked good. I watched the lady in the next car dig into her burger and with my window open, it smelt great.
There were other times, drinks, coffee, cold drinks and alcohol. Sweets, treats and crisps, it was a simple ordering process, go on line with your mobile and order what you wanted, stating the number of your crate. Food would be delivered to your crate and all would be great. Except that Bath Racecourse has no data signal and there was no Wi-Fi. There was a number that I could text but it was on the screen at the beginning of the movie and I am not sure if anyone recorded it.
This was a full length movie, coffee, drinks and food were being delivered so toilets had to be on offer. They were in the form of port-a-loos. In the middle of a field, this was the best they could do. What I saw was a constant cleaning effort and people were happy to use them. There was a system, where people had to put on their hazard lights on the car and the staff would come and guide you to the toilet. The staff were busy with food and rinks and not that attentive to the hazard lights. I saw people make their own way and it seemed that the extra layer of hassle with the hazard lights had been forgotten.
Is it worth it?
This is an experience event, and not a full on movie experience. There are some hiccups and not everything was perfect in the execution or the movie. £40 seemed a lot of money however if there had only been the two of us and the back seat was empty it would have been great. The little issues could have been easily dismissed, I only wish I had booked two tickets and these little things would not have been such an issue.
That said, I would book again. I hope it becomes a regular fixture.