Half-Hour from Montgomery County Is an Entertainment Venue That Is Oldest of Its Kind in the World

drive-in facade
Image via Facebook.

A Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theater announcement on Facebook gave notice of its 2023 opening in Orefield, Lehigh County, generating numerous memories of the unique entertainment venue.

It’s about a 30-minute drive from Montgomery County via the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Locals making the trip will find the oldest operational entertainment site of its kind worldwide.

The first drive-in in the U.S. arose in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933. Taken with the idea, businessman Wilson Shankweiler opened the first in Pennsylvania, making his the second in the nation.

It has outlasted all others, rising over time to the distinction of being the oldest, operational drive-in globally.

The alfresco film fad peaked in the 1950s, when 4,000+ outdoor movie screens attracted crowds nationwide.

A FOX Business story chronicled the niche entertainment’s gradual decline. Profitability concerns from significant real-estate investments and cultural shifts to mall-based megaplexes chipped away at the draw of watching a move under the stars.

The genre rallied somewhat during COVID-19 lock downs, when the distance provided by individual automobiles was a pandemic advantage for audience members.

Shankweilers is no longer in the familial hands of its founder. But its present owner-operators continue providing after-dark, big-screen, open-air entertainment.

And as for the local commute to Shankweiler’s, Pennsburg resident Marlene Lekic Wolfinger didn’t find it overly onerous for a recent date night.

“Great drive-in,” she assessed. “Great customer service.”

More on Shankweiler’s Drive-In-Theater is at its website and Facebook page.


PBS 39 also discovered the fun of Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theater.

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