Stony Brook Drive-In

3690 E. Market Street,
York, PA 17402

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Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

dallasmovietheaters on May 18, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Closed September 13, 1987 after showings of “Robo-Cop” paired with “Working Girl.”

rivest266 on May 15, 2019 at 2:37 pm

Last season: 1986

57thst on July 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm

thanks for the pics penway14, i’ll try and take some pics of what the land looks like now

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

Stony Brook Drive-In FLICKr album:

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

Also hoping to get some more comments on the Lancaster downtown theaters…
I have not been able to find any photos of the Boyd and other theaters.

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 1, 2010 at 8:30 am

PS: DennisZ: Great entry. Break your comments into paragraphs & they would make a good entry on the Comet &/or the Sky Vue….

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 1, 2010 at 1:58 am

Wish I could join you too, but I’m in California. I remember seeing GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER at the Comet. It had a neat sign at the entrance too.

dennisczimmerman on June 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm

The Comet Drive In Theatre was located exactly where the Crystal Springs bottled water plant is right off of 283. Back when the Comet Theatre opened, Route 283 was known as Route 230 and was not a limited access road. You could enter and exit the drive in right onto the four lane highway. At the end of the showings, they had police there to direct traffic out of the drive in and to stop traffic on Route 230. Back then route 230 ended at what is now the first exit for Mt. Joy. It was only after the rest of Route 230 was constructed to the Dauphin county line that they changed it to Rte 283 and made in a limited access road. The Comet lasted for a few years after they had to construct the new entrance drive which is used now for the bottled water plant. When the drive in was first dismantled, the building built was for a large tracter trailer and tanker truck showroom and repair facility. I think that was short lived and eventually replaced with what is there now. Both the Comet Drive In and Sky Vue Drive in (Route 30 East where The Tanger Outlet center is now located.) were owned and operated by the Chertcoff Theatre chain, which built and operated the King Theatre in Lancaster City along with other theatres all over the Central Pa area. I know when the Comet was first proposed, most people thought it was a stupid location right across the road from the main line of the Penna. Railroad where passenger trains would speed passed either heading East or West about every 30 minutes or so. I remember watching a movie at the drive in and hearing the train horn in the background. The Comet Drive in was a much more elaborate theatre than the Sky Vue as it was built later. Both had playgrounds in front of the screen. If you go to the rear parking lot of the Tanger Outlet Center you can still see light poles standing that were used at the Sky Vue Drive in. You entered the drive at about where the outlet entrance is now. It was a long drive and the screen was to your right with the back of the screen facing West towards Lancaster City. Those were the days. Both drive ins at times played first run movies. I remember seeing “The Carpetbaggers” at the Sky Vue Drive in. I cannot remember whether it was also showing at one of the movie palaces downtown or just the drive in. Back then in Lancaster anyway, a movie generally only played in one location and an engagement could last for 6 or 8 weeks. Well, I rattled on long enough. John S and John Messick, we still need to get together to have a rehash old times and awaken old memories gab fest session. Are you two still interest??

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

John S: Now that you mention it I think there was a roller rink at Playland. If you faced the property from the highway the miniature golf course and pool were on the left, and the rink was to the right. I think you drove in between them.

The golf course was right in front of the pool which, as I said, was uniquely elevated and shaped like a kind of oval or horseshoe-shaped bowl. Behind the pool there were grounds, mostly grassy lawn, for sunbathing.

There were large paintings of sea creatures on the bottom of the pool and there was a large slide to the right, a smaller children’s one on the left side.

I thought the whole complex was magical, the underwater windows on the dive area were fascinating.

Aside from Hershey Park, Playland was the closest you could come to Disneyland in Pennsylvania. I always looked forward to our trips down from Harrisburg.

JohnMessick on June 30, 2010 at 9:29 am

Kelly Cadillac was built on farmland. I think Kelly has been there around 15 years plus or minus.

1posterfan4sure on June 30, 2010 at 8:19 am

John: That would have been the Comet. Never saw it myself so I’m not sure exactly where it was. A Lancaster native once told me it was where Kelly Cadillac is today, but that seems a little too far up the road. Any Lancastrians out there who know for sure?

JohnMessick on June 30, 2010 at 4:09 am

John..I remember as a kid, there was a drive in that you could see off 283 near the Millerville/East Petersburg exit. There is a bottled water company and if memory serves a trucking/trailer company. I thought that was home to the Comet.

1posterfan4sure on June 30, 2010 at 3:27 am

In way of answer to a few questions:

John: I’m told a car dealership is on the former site of the Comet D-I, northwest of Lancaster off 283.

The Tanger Outlet Center is on the SkyVue site.

Nobody asked about this but cows graze on the site of the Columbia D-I. It is immediately adjacent to a farm, east of Columbia on 462. The site is no longer recognizable as the drive-in. That was a very well-attended D-I that got kicked off the land by the owner’s desire to build a shopping center, which for reasons unknown was never built. It was operating 5 or 6 months a year as recently as 5 years ago.

Ross: Playland in East York was long gone by the time I got to town but there was a huge old roller skating rink in the area I think you’re talking about. Was that part of Playland? The roller rink burned to the ground – leveled in about 20 minutes – in a spectacular fire one Sunday afternoon in the 1980s.

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Do you (does anyone?) remember Playland? It was probably before your time. My parents took me there when I was a kid. I loved it. I don’t know how long it survived.

Here’s what a friend, Stateboy from Columbia, recalls:

“The Playland Pool underwater viewing windows (which I only ever glimpsed from the highway as Dad drove by) remind me of the Marineland scenes in REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, where Lori Nelson and ‘Blackie’ sort of…well, ogle each other. …” :–)

The other Lancaster drive-in was, as I recall, the Sky Vue, on route 30 east. That, as you said, quickly became prime real estate.

1posterfan4sure on June 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm

The Lincoln was pretty rural, all the way out in Thomasville, but the Stony Brook was just down the street from the apartment complex where I lived when I came to York. I could have walked there. East York became a very well-developed suburban area post-WWII, and East Market Street for the first mile or so past Mt. Zion Road. (Rt. 24) was a busy retail strip and is more so today. Drive-ins were traditionally built on cheap, outlying land accessible by good roads. The Lincoln was a prime example. How they got all that land in suburban East York to build a drive-in theater in 1950 I’ll never figure out. Perhaps they were lucky and beat the rush, or the original owners of the drive-in already owned the land. It was probably all farm land or woods at that time.

JohnMessick on June 29, 2010 at 10:24 am

Isn’t there a bottled water company on the land the Comet use to be on?

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 29, 2010 at 9:26 am

Thanks for all the info, John S. I know little about the York drive-ins, other than vague memories of attending them from time to time. I remember the Lincoln as being fairly rural at the time.
I also attended the Comet and one other drive-in in Lancaster.
Strange you should mention the “cannibalized” Stony Brook projection booth.
I’ve added three new photos including one of the very “no frills” projection building.
View link

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 29, 2010 at 9:00 am

RE: Stony Brook/Lincoln:
View link

1posterfan4sure on June 29, 2010 at 4:11 am

Back in 1989, I was an “Arts & Leisure” writer for a local daily newspaper. I wrote an article about York-area drive-ins and the Lincoln in particular, as AMC had re-opened it for the summer after a two-year hiatus. I had to go look up that article to get some facts straight. AMC acquired the Budco theaters in January 1987 and closed most of Budco’s drive-ins, and there were many. As an AMC spokesman told me, they had no experience with drive-ins and considered them a waste of time. Both the Stony Brook and the Lincoln did not re-open in 1987. AMC did re-open the Columbia Drive-in, however, as that one was fairly close to their New Jersey district office and had always been successful. The guy who ran Columbia convinced them to re-open the Lincoln in 1989. They declined to re-open Stony Brook, I was told, because of the York 4 Cinema on the same property, and they didn’t want to compete with themselves. I attended a showing of “Pink Cadillac” at the Lincoln as part of writing the article and interviewing the people who worked there, as friendly and dedicated a group of people as I have ever met. Unfortunately, AMC did a lousy job of running and promoting the Lincoln. The lot was overgrown with weeds and the projectors each hit a different spot on the screen. AMC declined to re-open the Lincoln after that season, and it was left to rot for years. Stony Brook could never re-open, as AMC had, in their words, “cannibalized” the projection equipment for spare parts. That property sat there for years, turning into a veritable jungle of weeds and overgrowth. They just closed it and forgot about it. At least when the York 4 was running they kept the lot reasonably clean, but after that, forget it. Too bad.

JohnMessick on June 28, 2010 at 3:58 am

Thanks John. I knew you would weigh in on this.

1posterfan4sure on June 28, 2010 at 3:36 am

Opened in 1950. Closed in 1986. Co-owned with the Lincoln Drive-in, west of York on Rt. 30 in Thomasville. Like the Lincoln, open year-round during its heyday, running first-run movies. Stony Brook, Lincoln and the hard-top HiWay eventually came into the Budco fold, which also operated the York Cinema next to the Stony Brook property. When I moved to York in 1975, the York Cinema was one large theater, which was then twinned, and two more screens were added by the late 70s. Budco closed Stony Brook at the end of the 1986 season; Lincoln around the same time. AMC acquired Budco and re-opened the Lincoln for one season around 1990, using equipment that had been removed from Stony Brook. AMC closed the York Cinema in the late 90s and the property sat there declining for close to a decade before a developer leveled it all for a shopping center and condos, both of which sit where the drive-in used to be, on a new street called Cinema Drive. Ironic, since there is no longer a cinema located there. The last movie I saw at the Stony Brook: “Purple Rain.”

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm



When you go to the map Google shows the southern half of the United States. If you remove OLD LINCOLN HIGHWAY, it gets you close to the drive in.

Great flickr photos!

Anyone else have more photos or info?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Great pictures,Penway14.Here are some more facts from 1956 Almanac.It parked 900 cars making it a huge Drive-in.And was owned in the late fifties by V.Smith. Who owned a few Drive-ins in Pennsylvania.

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

This should take you to my in-progress FLICKr album:

View link