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
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
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
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
enginecapt on June 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I know who painted that sign.

hondo59
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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