McHenry Outdoor Theatre

1510 N. Chapel Hill Road,
McHenry, IL 60050

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DRIVEIN101 on October 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm

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.

NeonMichael on June 26, 2017 at 5:27 pm

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”).

antoniomontana on September 20, 2013 at 4:25 am

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!

lunacydress on August 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm

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!

DavidZornig on January 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm

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

TLSLOEWS on May 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Good screen photo lost memory.

janlcc on June 4, 2009 at 1:50 am

Current showtimes are listed here.

ckress83 on May 28, 2008 at 3:50 pm

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 May 10, 2008 at 8:52 pm

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

IceCoach on July 8, 2007 at 5:29 am

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 3, 2007 at 7:59 pm

The McHenry Outdoor Theatre opens for the 2007 season tomorrow evening with Spiderman 3 and Ghost Rider.

Movie schedule may be found at View link

lexmarks567 on March 31, 2007 at 4:50 pm

its sad that drive ins are closing. The only to get them to stay is for the owner to own the land its on then no one can touch it. cause if you lease you have no say if the owner wants to sell the land

CollinsMommy on July 28, 2006 at 2:02 am

If you go to and click on movies and select McHenry Outdoor Theater under the theaters tab, it diaplays the movies playing this week. Its Lady in the Water and Pirates of the Caribean this weekend.

TurboShift on July 26, 2006 at 8:34 pm

I too wish to know the times and the movies. I have 2 different phone numbers and when i call one I constantly get a busy signal. What is the phone number to get info? anyone know anything that could help? thanks


jessicasmetters on June 20, 2006 at 2:15 pm

i want to know if anyone knows the times and the movies being played at the drive in this weekend, cuz i wanna go, but i cant find any info on the times or the movies… ive called but it was movies and times for last weekend. so if anybody has any info, email me at thanks

geopia on June 20, 2006 at 12:06 pm

Jimmyfats – you are right. Townhomes are going up as we speak. Not sure when the Crystal Lake theatre closed but we moved into the area around 1975 – I keep thinking I might have watch a movie or two at that theatre.

McHenry is still open for the 2006 season. Hope it lasts.

Batwoman on June 7, 2006 at 1:03 pm

Does anyone know if this place is for sale? In all seriousness my oldest brother wants to buy a drive in and when I mentioned I once heard this was up for sale he told me to see if it still was. IF it is and he purchases he he will keep it open because he’s a theater lover like the rest of us.

LeeBenedict on May 31, 2006 at 11:32 pm

Save Mchenry Outdoor Theater…The Quad drive-in south of Milwaukee on old 41, the Waukegan drive-in, the Grayslake drive-in to name a few I remember that are now developed. Developers go somewhere else and develop. These nostalgic institutes of family fun (for low cost) to where parents didn’t need to get a baby sitter, couples could go to romance are dwindling. If for the life of kids playing at the playground just before dusk as the summer sun sets into an orange sea of glow. The movie starts as the family sips on cold beverages and munch buttered popcorn and kids slowly slip into a back seat nap. Hopefully in our modern world we will not totally loose such a Grand American Tradition.–

joelamp on December 20, 2005 at 3:00 pm

The sign on Rte. 120 says the theater will reopen for the 2006 season!

JimmyFats on June 26, 2005 at 8:19 pm

There was an old drive in in Crystal Lake. My company was very interested in restoring it into operation. The city council wasn’t having it. So now the land where it once was, (the corners of Pingree Rd and Drive-in Ln, behind Outback) is now home to of all things more Townhouses. Compliments of the city council and Pulte.

alojko on May 6, 2005 at 4:24 am

I have been taking my 2 daughters to the McHenry Drive-In for the last 5 years, so they too can experience the thrill of being at a drive-in. I remember going to the Crystal Drive-In with my brother, sister and parents in the late 60’s and early 70’s. My oldest daughter is looking forward to working there this year. This will be her first job. I have heard that the owner will be keeping the theater opened for more seasons after 2005. Let’s hope the developers don’t pursuade the owner otherwise.

conrad on September 3, 2004 at 6:40 pm

I don’t believe the pointed-roofed building you describe was ever a ticket booth for the drive-in. For one, it’s nearly a mile from that building to the theater screen down Chapel Hill Road. The earliest occupant I can remember was the Pine Tree Pet Shop – which, of course, played into the pointed roof, which is indeed shaped like an evergreen. Today, it is in fact a candy store (I drive by it twice daily). The Outdoor is still open as I type this…it’ll close for the season after Labor Day. Not sure the owners plan to close, in that they made a big deal this summer about having a “new” screen.

karaoketom on January 18, 2004 at 12:15 pm

Someone assist me on this, but if I’m not mistaken, the hut/building (it has a pointed roof) that you would purchase your tickets at; before driving down the dirt road to the entrance; is still there but is now a chocolate store. ???

karaoketom on January 17, 2004 at 4:35 pm

This is still our favorite outdoor theatre to go to. I have heard talk that it too will come down in the near future. It’s a shame that the drive-ins are all dwindling away. It really is an inexpensive fun for all & a great summer night out.