Lakes Outdoor Theatre

3136 Theatre Road,
Delavan, WI 53115

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Lakes Outdoor Theatre

Located between Lake Geneva and Delavan (West of Williams Bay). The Lakes Outdoor Theatre was constructed by the ZinZow Construction Company Inc. and opened its gates on May 25, 1950 with the 20th Century Fox smash hit “Cheaper By The Dozen”, followed by “Jolson Sings Again” and “All The King’s Men”. Days later (Compliments that advertise the Lakes Outdoor Theatre were by a couple of companies in the Janesville, Elkhorn, Delavan, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois Areas). It was owned and operated by Bob Hagen, who was the manager for many years. The Lakes Outdoor Theatre only operated during the months from late-March (or April) to late-October.

At the beginning of the 1955 season, the Lakes Outdoor Theatre installed a 100 feet in width/1,200 inch CinemaScope screen after both the Walworth Theatre and the Genoa Theatre installed CinemaScope in 1953-54. The CinemaScope at the Lakes Outdoor Theatre could also screen Paramount’s Vista-Vision and RKO Radio Pictures' SuperScope films during RKO’s last years. The screen was constructed in February, and reopened by showing 2 regular double features on April 28, 1955. Four days later, the first CinemaScope film was played at the Lakes Outdoor Theatre, “Hit The Deck” with a ‘Giant Cartoon Festival’ (the cartoons are unknown at this moment) on May 1, 1955.

20 years later, the Lakes Outdoor Theatre was taken over by Marcus Theatres on July 17, 1975 (at the time, it was owned and operated by Don Perkins). According to the Lake Geneva Regional News, there was also a basketball court at the Lakes Outdoor Theatre.

As of 1980, Williams Matthews operated the Lakes Outdoor Theatre, who was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Donald Matthews.

On June 2, 1981, over 595 Hamburgers, 184 Hot Dogs,two and a half dozen hamburger buns, 22 Pizzas, and several cases of assorted candies were stolen during a robbery at the Lakes Outdoor Theatre, along with a couple of cigars, change from a vending machine, VHS tapes and audio cassette tapes. “The value of merchandise have not been determined”, said Lake Geneva Police.

The Lakes Outdoor Theatre’s final operation year was 1987, and was closed in August of that year. The Lakes Outdoor Theatre was later shown up on Century 21 For $100,000 in October.

Now “East Delavan Baptist Church” has been built on the site.

Contributed by 50sSnipes

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Kenmore on February 16, 2020 at 2:36 pm

A closer address is 3136 Theatre Rd, Delavan, WI.

The drive-in sat on the east side of Theatre Road just south of the WI-50/Theatre Rd intersection. A 1981 aerial shows it intact and operational. A 1995 aerial shows it demolished.

Today, U Stuff It Mini Storage (catchy name) sits on the property. You can clearly see the outline of the drive-in along with the entrance road.

Kenmore on February 16, 2020 at 2:41 pm

The name on the street sign is “Compost Management” which may be the actual name of the business since the overhead does not show any recognizable storage units.

50sSNIPES on February 16, 2020 at 4:52 pm

Yes, You Are Right. The Pathway Is Clearly Visible There. A “U Stuff It Mini Storage” Is Now On Its Site. Thanks Kenmore!

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