Council Bluffs Drive-In

1130 South Omaha Bridge Road,
Council Bluffs, IA 51501

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Council Bluffs Drive-In

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The Council Bluffs Drive-In has been in operation for a half century opening in 1954. It could accommodate 600 cars.

The Council Bluffs Drive-In showed double bills during the week and triple bills on Friday and Saturday. Audio was provided through radio.

The Council Bluffs Drive-In was closed in late-2007 and was demolished. At that time, the owners were hoping to build a new twin-screen drive-in theatre at another location.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

TJacobs on May 17, 2005 at 8:23 pm

I have enjoyed this outdoor theater many times. It is very family oriented and a great place to bring children.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 10, 2006 at 3:58 pm

A recent photo of the Council Bluffs Drive-In can be seen here.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 8, 2006 at 7:46 am

Here is a more recent photo of the Council Bluffs Drive-In.

kencmcintyre on January 8, 2007 at 2:32 pm

There is an article in the Council Bluffs Nonpareil dated 7/13/50 which discusses the opening of a new drive-in in the city. I’m not sure if it’s the same as the one listed as they just call it “The Drive-In”. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The new Drive-in theater here â€" one of the most modern in the middle west â€" will celebrate its grand opening at 7 p.m. Friday, William Miskell, Omaha district manager of Tri-States Theatres announced. It is located on a 12-acre tract on Highway 275 at Eleventh Street, immediately west of the closed Stork club. B.J. Dudgeon of Omaha will manage the enterprise. He also manages another Tri-States Drive-in at Omaha. Opening feature, which will begin at dusk Friday, is “The Big Wheel.” It’s a midget auto racing story starring Mickey Rooney. Free souvenirs will be distributed at the opening.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 12, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Status can be changed to Closed. And the address is 1130 W South Omaha Bridge Rd.

Ken….I believe that the theater mentioned in your comment above is this theater. If you map 1130 W South Omaha Bridge Rd, it shows as Highway 275 and South Eleventh Street. Close enough.

“2007 Omaha World-Herald Byline: Kevin Cole

Jan. 12—The sun has set on the last of the drive-in movie theaters in the metropolitan area, but it may rise on a bigger version in the near future. Investors bought the Council Bluffs Drive-In at 1130 W. South Omaha Bridge Road for $1.25 million from JMAK L.L.C. on Dec. 27, said a spokesman for the Council Bluffs Industrial Foundation.

“We are just assembling some land for prospective economic development,” said Mark Norman. “We don’t want to say anymore than that at this time.”

The 15-acre drive-in site is part of a 53-acre parcel the foundation purchased that also includes Gethsemane Presbyterian Church and adjacent warehouse buildings. Gethsemane secretary Shirley Bible said the church has the option to remain open where it is for at least 18 months. It sold for $1.2 million. Brian Fridley, president of Outdoor Theaters of Iowa, which operated the drive-in, said his company is seeking land in the same area to open a new theater. Outdoor Theaters began leasing the Council Bluffs Drive-In in 2002. “If we had known in 2002 when we took this over how profitable it would be, we would have bought the land,” Fridley said. “We are hoping to acquire a piece of land in the same area with water and sewer for another theater. If we do, we hope to have it ready to go by the spring of 2008, and if we do, it will be a twin-screen drive-in theater.” Judith Hausmann, manager of the Council Bluffs Drive-In, said her staff was shocked by the sale of the property. “We just found out two days after Christmas that the land had been sold,” Hausmann said Thursday. “At our company Christmas party, we were talking and planning about having another great year. This was really devastating, but we may be back better than ever.”

Hausmann said the theater is already being disassembled. “We have already begun taking out speaker posts and other items,” she said. “We also donated a lot of the food in the kitchen to one of the missions.”

Nationally, drive-in theaters have been in great decline since their heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, when about 4,000 outdoor theaters existed. According to the Web site, there are just over 400 theaters left. Fridley said he is aware of three drive-in movie theaters left in Iowa, at Maquoketa, Centerville and Newton. In Nebraska, Alliance, Neligh and Kearney have the last three drive-ins in the state.

“That’s why it would be great to see another theater replace this one,” Hausmann said. “It would give a whole new generation the chance to see outdoor movies. There’s nothing like them”.

kencmcintyre on February 12, 2007 at 3:51 pm

I’ve come across hundreds of drive-ins from the 40s and 50s that could be listed on CT, but the time involved would be extraordinary. Besides, there are plenty of websites with comprehensive lists of “dead theaters” if you’re interested in that area.

fordthunderbird on March 13, 2007 at 3:49 am

It’s such a shame this closed! I knew this would happen. They are tearing down something that was a land mark for this town! Lets hope another drive in is built.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 29, 2008 at 6:58 pm

This was the Council Bluffs Drive-In in 1999.

cmartens54 on August 6, 2009 at 11:51 am

The location is now a server farm owned by Google.

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