Bayshore-Sunrise Drive-In

1881 Sunrise Highway,
Bay Shore, NY 11706

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Bayshore-Sunrise Drive-In

The Bayshore-Sunrise Drive-In opened in May 1955 as a single screen theatre with a capacity for 1,500 cars. The opening movies were Fred Astaire in “Daddy Long Legs”, a CinemaScope feature, and Joel McCrea in “Stranger on Horseback”. It was operated by Prudential Theatres Inc..

There were two ticket booths at the entrance which could serve four cars at one time. There was a childrens play area, complete with a ‘Miracle Star Gazer’ motor driven ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. Beneath the 135 feet wide CinemaScope screen were shuffle board courts, and there was a juke box and dance area beside the consession stand.

In the 1970’s the Bayshore-Sunrise Drive-In was twinned and to the day it closed in 1990, it would show first-run movies with a co-feature. This drive-in was well-maintained pretty much to the end, unlike the fate other UA drive-ins had.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 84 comments)

jpark377 on May 17, 2009 at 10:12 am

Hi Bway-
It’s the Home Depot/Shop Rite property. Best Buy is the old Bay Shore Farmer’s Market location.

bogieyank on June 23, 2010 at 10:11 am

I have fond memories of this drive in. It opened sometime during the late ‘50s. I believe the first movie I saw there with my parents was “Rio Bravo”. This drive in played many of the John Wayne westerns during that era.

I recall the shuffle board courts which were located right at the footstep of the screen (at the time this was a single screen venue). For some reason in my youth I had a fear of large movie screens and remember my parents wondering why I would start crying when we went up to play shuffle board.

The theatre also had a miniature golf course located in the east side of the parking area. That was a lot of fun.

One earlier entry mentions the fact the theatre played top forties music before the show would start. I still hear the echoes of that music in my memory.

It was indeed located next to the Bayshore Farmers Market and my Dad knew the man who managed one of the produce stands there. We would load up on green seedless grapes and snack on them during the movies.

Later in years the indoor theatre had been built right on the west side of the entrance to the drive in. I do not believe the two theatres were related in any way only by geography. Later in years the theatre became a twin and lost some of its charm.

The one drawback was the incinerator right across the street on the east bound side of Sunrise Highway. If the breeze was right, during the show the smell of burning trash would become apparent. It did keep the mosquitoes away however.

During the early years however, Long Island was rich with many outdoor cinemas and for the most part I have been to them all. The Bay Shore Sunrise was the one we frequented the most.

We would go to the 5th Avenue Drive In from time to time but they featured low budget horror films for the most part which we did not have a taste for.

It is sad that these moments in history have been lost for the most part. Today we yield to 3D and special effects and not great cinema moments which required the skill of acting and not delusion.

Up here in Maine we still have two active drive ins; The Saco Drive In and Prides Corner Drive In. We have been to the Prides Corner and it is pretty old but nostalgic. It brings back memories of the Bayshore Sunrise and the happy moments spent there.

jpark377 on September 4, 2010 at 7:32 pm

This theater and the Bay Shore Cinema actually did make it to the 90’s- I don’t know why there should be so many inaccuracies in the opening theater descriptions on this site(I quit working there in 1987- so I don’t think it closed in 1985!). I’ll look up my old invoices, but the Home Depot on the site opened around 1991-1992. It was the last Drive-In in Suffolk County, that’s for sure, but was outlived by it’s Nassau County UA counterpart, the Westbury Drive-In by many years.

mikebernier on January 23, 2011 at 1:34 am

The amusement park with the bi-planes was actually right outside of the Bay Shore Farmers Market (not by Peter Pan Diner) on the corner of Brentwood Road and Sunrise Highway. I did ride on the planes and it was great.
Mike B.

Guadzilla on March 31, 2013 at 10:33 am

This theatre definitely remained open beyond 1985. I graduated high school in 1990 and I used to go to this drive-in with my HS gf regularly. I only started driving in 1987 so it may have even made it into the 90’s. There’s a Home Depot and a Best Buy there now. Progress isn’t always progress…

Rayzor on December 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

I lived across the street from the drive-in. We used to watch movies from our pool deck and tune into the sound cause we were close enough to catch the signal. The drive-in closed completely in the winter of 1990. After that they had fairs, and carnivals for a short period in the vacant lot, and then home depot opened in late 1992 . Later Shop-Rite opened, and eventually they built an apartment complex for seniors. I miss the way my neighborhood used to look before the drive-in closed.

Rayzor on December 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

Guadzilla-The Best Buy was a farmers market, then a waldbaums before it became what it is now. The shopping center with Toy R' Us and farmer’s market was there before I was born, I have no clue when it was even built. Farmer’s market was probably there in the 50’s.

D_Brudie on May 20, 2017 at 7:02 am

This theater was my HORROR hangout! I saw so many great films, like, Creepshow, Day of the Dead, Without Warning and so many more… Great times. indeed.

bond on September 1, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Correction on the closing of the Sunrise Hwy Bay Shore Drive In.. It closed in 1990 not 1985..

I remember seeing , Back to the Future part 2 and 3 there.

robboehm on February 4, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Of all the initial Prudential Drive Ins this was the largest until they built the three All Weather’s. Although the Cinema hard top was adjacent to the drive in it did not appear that they were trying to play catch up to the All Weather concept since the movies show in the two venues were always different.

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