Lake Estes Drive-In

1700 Big Thompson Avenue,
Estes Park, CO 80517

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Lake Estes Drive-In

The Lake Estes Drive-In was located on the northeast corner of Lake Estes and opened on May 15, 1953 with Dennis Morgan in “Painting the Clouds with Sunshine”. It was operated by Shanks & Teuscher. It operated until 1990 when a fire in the concession stand as well as low attendance caused this theater to close.

At the time it was owned and operated by long time theater operaters, Richard "Mickey" and Ola Stanger (now deceased) from 1965 and the land is still owned by their heirs. The Stangers also owned the Park Theater (indoor) in downtown Estes Park which, like the drive in, operates May thru September. This theater is still in operation and in the Stanger family. The screen, marquee and speaker poles were demolished in 1999 when the Lake Shore Lodge was constructed on the south east corner of the drive in property.

The concession/projection/management housing building remained (still equipped with two Ballantyne carbon arc projectors) as well as the ticket booth. The ramps have pretty much eroded away. Theses building were demolished around 2013. The screen was not demolished, but moved and re-used at the Mesa Drive-In, the same thing that was done with the screen from the defunct Pines Drive-In in Loveland, Colorado turning the Mesa into a triplex.

Contributed by Anthony L. Hernandez

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez
Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on December 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm

There is no remaining trace of the theater now that the projection/snack bar/manager’s house building and the box office have been demolished within the past couple years. Status should be changed to closed/demolished.

MichaelKilgore on June 23, 2019 at 5:34 pm

The August 1, 1953 issue of BoxOffice reported that the Lake Estes, capacity 302 cars, had opened.

MichaelKilgore on October 3, 2019 at 4:21 pm

A Theatres For Lease classified ad in the April 1, 1959 issue of Motion Picture Exhibitor read: “1959 SEASON. 300 car Drive-In and Snak Bar to responsible Theatre Man. $3,600 in advance. Excellent Grosser. D. D. SHANKS, Ph 300, Estes Park, Colo.”

MichaelKilgore on February 7, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Boxoffice, Feb. 10, 1964: “R. L. Stanger, who operates the Evans Drive-In in Denver, has purchased the Lake Estes Drive-In, Estes Park. This theatre had been closed for several years”

MichaelKilgore on February 12, 2020 at 1:00 pm

The Lake Estes Drive-In Theatre held its grand opening on Friday, May 15, 1953, based on its ad in that day’s Estes Park Trail. The opening program was “Painting the Clouds With Sunshine” and three cartoons. Adults were 80 cents, including tax, but children under 12 were free. All ladies received free Princess Aloha orchids flown in from Hawaii by owners L. L. Teuscher and D. D. “Ted” Shanks.

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