400 Drive-In

Highway 400 & Highway 7 W,
Vaughan, ON L4L 9J8

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The 400 Drive-In was located at Highway 400 and Highway 7 W.

It opened July 22, 1954 as a single screen and expanded to three screens in 1978. It closed in 1997 to make way for the Famous Players Colossus movie theater and IMAX, as well as fast food outlets.

Famous Players owned the 400 Drive-In, which had space for 1,350 cars.

Contributed by Chad Irish

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

pianoman
pianoman on December 25, 2004 at 10:00 am

This one was apparently fabulous. Does Famous Players own any other classic theatres?

Assistantmanager
Assistantmanager on August 18, 2005 at 3:09 pm

I worked at the 400 Drive-In from February 1972 until 1992. When I started there, there was just one screen, the one shown in your photos of the theatre. There were 16 or 17 ramps with the snack bar or concession as we called it located about dead centre. The 2 projectors were of the older carbon arc type. I remember the cartons of carbon arcs in the booth and the projectionist changing them.
Around 1977 or 1978, it was decided to add two new screens. It was becoming more difficult to fill the theatre with just one show, and the trend was to go with multiple screens at the indoor theatres.
Theatre #2, the smallest of the three theatres with a capacity of 284 vehicles was the first to go with radio sound probably about a year after its construction. The radio sound at that time seems primitive by today’s standards. The “speaker” posts had two wires each which were wrapped around the vehicle antenna. The radio frequency signal was fed to the posts from the old underground audio wires dating from the days of speakers. A year or two later, the other two were converted to radio sound, theatre #1 with a capacity of 460 vehicles and theatre #3 with a capacity of around 550 cars. Eventually this system was scapped and transmitters with rooftop antennae were installed.
Over the years that I was there, we encountered many problems. The two that I remember most vividly were brought about by industrial development around the theatre property. Water was a big problem. We had a huge well and three pumps to fill our storage tanks. As the surrounding area was built up, the water table changed and we had to have water trucked in. And with the enlargement of 400 highway and the coming of highway 407, huge lamp standards were erected to the east and south of the theatre property. The light that they created at night was a real distraction behind the 2 new screens.
Although I was not employed at the 400 Drive-In at the end, I’m sure that the value of the land it was built on was the last nail in it’s coffin, and around 1995 it closed.

waicus
waicus on December 5, 2007 at 11:18 pm

I was born, in Toronto, in 1952. We first lived on Maple Leaf drive near Jane and Lawrence. Then moved, in 1959, to Sheppard and Jane.

I know my parents brought me to the 400 as a baby often. They didn’t have much money, and with me sleeping in the back they knew everything would be OK.

Later, my cousins and I would go there in by aunt’s car almost every Saturday night. I remember so clearly playing on the swings in front of the theatre.

My movie life, up until I was able to drive on my own, was split between the Odeon Weston (Lawrence and Weston Road) and the 400.

I recall when the other screens where added. My parents would take my sister and brothers to see the main feature. I would sometimes turn around to look at the other two screens in the hope I’d see something “naughty” (adult rated). Never happened though.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Good stories Drive-in Girl and Assistantmanager.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Nice marquee shot in the header.

William Mewes
William Mewes on July 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

These are the correct coordinates.

http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&ll=43.788569,-79.543076&spn=0.008427,0.021007&z=16

The Drive-In has been replaced by the “Famous Players Colossus Toronto” however it should be noted that despite the word “Toronto” in the name this location is not actualy and has never been in Toronto it is in “Vaughan”

telliott
telliott on July 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I’ve always wondered WHY they list it as Colossus Toronto. When it first opened it was listed as Colossus Woodbridge which is part of Vaughan, but definitely NOT Toronto.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on December 6, 2011 at 9:52 am

The 400 Drive-in was originally owned and operated by Nat Taylor’s 20th Century Theatres chain which was located at 175 Bloor St. E. in Toronto. He owned theatres all over Ontario including the Towne Cinema, the Uptown and the Glendale Cinerama in Toronto.

rivest266
rivest266 on March 4, 2014 at 7:29 pm

July 22nd, 1954 grand opening ad in photo section along with its aerial.

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