Mission Drive-In

31882 Del Obispo,
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

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The Mission Drive-In, Orange County’s ninth drive-in, opened in November of 1966 with the double bill “Paradise Hawaiian Style” and “Night of the Grizzly”. The 710-car venue remained an independent until May 13, 1970 when it became part of Pacific Theatres. When it closed on September 9, 1985 it was one of three county drive-ins to close within a year of the Fountain Valley and Warner drive-ins closed the previous October.

The Mission’s closing left seven drive-ins out of what was once eleven, but the Harbor Boulevard would go in December of 1986. The reasons for these closing had to do some with a decrease in attendance but the deciding factor was the enormous increase in real estate prices. The Mission’s closing attractions were “Silverado” and “The Emerald Forest”. A shopping center was later built on the site.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

yorick8080 on July 17, 2005 at 2:51 am

I vaguely remember seeing a film here as a kid in the early 80s. I seem to remember it being in a state of disuse (heaps of junk people had dumped, etc.) for at least a year or two after it had been closed.

Does anyone have any photographs of the old drive-in? That would be so interesting to see.

mdrackham on August 14, 2006 at 3:43 pm

My wife and I moved to San Juan Capistrano in the summer of 1984. We went to the drive-in a couple of times and I have fond memories of watching the movie in a little Fiat X1/9 with the top off, munching on “enhanced” tollhouse cookies. But those memories don’t include what the movies were!

I do remember that the lot was about ½ full on Friday and Saturday night.

The loss of the theater and the nursery that was behind it really made a big difference in the feel of the town. It felt much more “developed” and, of course, has only gotten more so over the years.

hondo59 on September 4, 2008 at 8:57 am

I have the Mission Drive-In wooden sign hanging in my garage in New Jersey.
My parents and I stopped in San Juan and the Mission Drive-In during a cross-country trip in August 1976. We were tired and on our way back from a visit to San Diego when we saw the screen off of I-5 (The 5). However, we all fell asleep during a mediocre double feature – FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and GATOR – and woke up alone at 4 am.
I have the ticket stubs.

Several years ago, much to my amazement, I came across the sign over the internet. A fellow had it in his back yard in Long Beach CA was trying to find a home for this piece of memorabilia. We struck a deal to have it sent to NJ.

enginecapt on June 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I know who painted that sign.

hondo59 on January 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hi Enginecap,

Who painted the Mission Drive-in sign? I have the hanging one – about 1 foot by 8 feet long. It hangs beautifully over my car each night when I pull it in. Great memory. Hondo59

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