McHenry Outdoor Theatre

1510 N. Chapel Hill Road,
McHenry, IL 60050

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McHENRY (SKYLINE) OUTDOOR Theatre; McHenry, Illinois.

The Skyline Drive-In opened on July 20 1951 with John Derek in “Rogues of Sherwood Forest”. It could originally accomodate 750 cars and was operated by Roy J. Miller.

It was renovated after the end of the 1976 season and reopened as the McHenry Outdoor Theatre on April 29, 1977. It is one of only a couple of drive-ins still in operation in the Chicagoland region. It’s season runs from May-September and screens family-friendly fare.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

IceCoach on July 7, 2007 at 11:29 pm

My Dad was a projectionist at the Crystal Lake Drive in the 60’s and I can remember the great times I had there as a kid. We had pony rides up near the screen in a fenced in area and all kinds of things to do before the movies started at dusk. The great concession stand in the mid-area of the Drive-in. I can remember going out to the Drive In during the day to fix the broken speakers, clean up the grounds and change the sign out on Hwy 14 to show the movies showing. It was the place to go when I reached High School. I would always bring my friends there. We lived in Elgin so it was a long drive for my Dad each night. I live in St.Louis now and it did not surprise me to see that the Drive In property fell to progress and more homes and condos. Like we need more of that. Thanks for the information about its fate.

janlcc on May 10, 2008 at 2:52 pm

McHenry Outdoor Theatre is open for the 2008 season, and going strong. Find their schedule at

ckress83 on May 28, 2008 at 9:50 am

This Theatre is almost a weekly event for me. I go with my brothers and friends and girlfriend. here’s a typical night; we pull in at 7:00 to buy our tickets. i park my big Grand Marquis next to a silver pole just left of the concessions and turn off the engine. a pimply faced kid promptly asks me if i could park a few inches closer to the pole (big car). i start her up and repark a little closer. i dial my radio to 88.5 (the theatre’s dedicated station) and we sing along to all these great old doo wop and soul songs from the 50s and 60s. and guess who the DJ is? it’s the WOLFMAN!! it’s not the original wolfman but it doesn’t matter because it feels the same. my brother cullin and i take a walk up to the concessions for a few rounds of rock em sock em. it’s this big 2 player game with these cast iron dummies inside and you use a series of levers to manipulate them into punching each other in the face. i think it must be a precursor to video games and it’s probably like 50 years old. it’s purely mechanical with no sound effects or display screens but its sooo fun! everyone in the popcorn line watches us duke it out. you get 3 rounds for a quarter. Cullin always beats me but it’s still the best $1.50 i could think to spend. after that we head for the screen. there’s this great stretch of grass right in front of the screen that’s perfect for throwing the frisby. we play right thru the first previews. when feature 1 starts, we’re back in the car. we bring our own snacks like twizzlers and things but at some point in the night, we have to get a popcorn from the concessions. it’s really the best! at intermission, we take a slow stroll around the place and have a talk or goof off. sometimes we’ll go back to the screen for more frisby or just to wrestle in the grass. when we get tired, we lay out under the dancing hotdogs and icecreams and we laugh and talk. we lay there looking up at this enormous screen filled with enormous dancing snacks under an even bigger sky. later in the year, toward september, you can see the old classics like American Grafitti and Rebel Without a Cause and Jailhouse Rock. All these old guys and gals show up in their poodle skirts and leather jackets and 50s model cruisers with flaming paintjobs and chrome galore. I don’t go just for what’s on the screen; i go for what’s under it. i go for the love of friends and family, for a piece of a golden past and for all the memories we’re making now. Bring your kids. when they’re older they’ll always remeber when daddy took them to the drive in. bring your friends and throw the frisby with us or just lay under the stars and sing along with the wolfman. it doesn’t matter much what’s playing. the real feature of the night is who’s there with you. admission is $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 11 and under and for seniors. a better time can’t be had for 5 times the admission!

janlcc on June 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Current showtimes are listed here.

TLSLOEWS on May 14, 2010 at 11:56 am

Good screen photo lost memory.

DavidZornig on January 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

Is the McHenry Outdoor still open during good weather months? Their website is currently down.

lunacydress on August 26, 2012 at 9:26 am

They are open, though their website seems to be having some issues with scrolling in the last couple days.

They’re doing “Throwback Weekends” through September. They also have a Facebook page:

If they make enough money, the new owners plan on upgrading the screen, projector and speakers, so support your local drive-in!

antoniomontana on September 19, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Good News! Honda’s Project Drive In promotion is upgrading the projectors by the end of 2013. Thanks for the votes and thank you Honda!

NeonMichael on June 26, 2017 at 11:27 am

When did this drive-in open? Little Lake County says the Skyline opened in 1943, but it didn’t show up in the 1948-50 Theatre Catalogs. As I type, Bryan’s summary says it opened in 1955, but it’s in the 1952 Theatre Catalog. (Capacity 750, Exec: R. J. Miller.)

The answer comes from a post earlier this year in the McHenry Public Library District blog. Working from McHenry Plaindealer archives, it says Roy Miller opened the Skyline in July 1951, matching the Catalog listing. (It says “the screen was listed as facing northwest,” which must have been a typo considering the well-drawn parking area that points northwest to a screen facing southeast.) “It also had illuminated speaker posts and a refreshment stand.” The screen was widened in 1956, and the Skyline was sold to Stan Kohlberg of Chicago in 1963.

When did it change names? The 1976 IMPA still has the Skyline (capacity 600) but the 1982 IMPA has the McHenry (owned by “Rhyan”).

DRIVEIN101 on October 10, 2018 at 9:54 am

Opened as the Skyline Drive-In on July 20, 1951 with “Rogues Of Sherwood Forest”, starring John Derek, Dianna Lynne, Alan Hale (Sr.) and George MacReady. The drive-in was given a complete renovation after the 1976 season and re-introduced as the McHenry Outdoor on April 29, 1977.

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