Come see the stars under the stars: Bridgton Twin
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Name of Reviewer: Hadley Hurd
Type of Attraction: Outdoor Theatre
Date of Visit: September 14, 2012
Visitors and residents of the quaint but expanding town of Bridgton Maine, which is nestled in the Lakes Region of Cumberland County, have noticed some significant changes over the years. With the development of multiple new chain restaurants and supermarkets some think that the old historic town, established in 1794, has caved into catering mainly toward tourists with the ‘urbanization’ of the small town. However, those that question Bridgton’s preservation of history needn’t go further than 383 Portland Road, the location of the Bridgton Twin Drive-In Theatre for the past 55 years. In this day and age Drive-In’s are a dying breed, as only 5 remain in the state of Maine (in their prime there were 46). With so many closing down due to the lack of sustainable business, the Bridgton Twin Drive-In has had a pretty good run so far, being open for over half of a century and it shows no signs of slowing down! All 55 years the theatre has been owned by the same family- the Tevanian’s. The current owner John Tevanian, bought it from his father and has been running it ever since.
When you pull into the Bridgton Twin, which gets it’s name from being the only Drive-In in the state that has two screens, you’ll see cars lined up into two separate lines on either side of an old ticket box. One line for Screen 1, and the other for Screen 2. As you reach the ticket box you’re greeted by none other than John Tevanian himself, who’s hasn’t missed a single night that the theatre has been opened since the early 80’s. He makes a point of running the box solo for the first half of the night to be able to greet and interact with his customers personally. The screen that you choose to go to is your screen for the night, and you can stay for one or both of the movies that are playing on it, on the average night there are two movies per screen that are showing. Many Drive-Ins have a carload price but not the Bridgton-Twin, though their prices are MORE than affordable! Ages 12 and up are $7.50, ages 5-11 are $5.00 and ages 4 and under are free. If you do the math, the very most that you are possibly paying if you stay for both movies, is $3.25 per person - which is the best deal around if you ask me! Though do take note: that the theatre does have some additional fees and rules for pricing on certain days. For example Fridays, Saturdays and Holiday’s that fall of a Sunday - there is a $15.00 MINIMUM to come into the theatre, even if on a weekday your total would have been less than $15.00. Also there is a fee to switch from one screen to another- so if you want to see the first movie on one screen and the second movie on the other you have to pay the same prices you did to enter all over again, and if you happen to be by yourself, it is $15.00 to switch. I would recommend that you and your group plan accordingly for these rules, if half of you want one movie and the other half want the other it might be more economical to take separate vehicles.
With your tickets you are given a few flyers with information about the theatre on it such as the radio stations for each screen (sound is broadcasted though your cars radio, rather than speakers that clip onto your cars window), the upcoming movies for the season and on the backside, a menu for the snack bar. The other flyer handed out is a promotional deal that the Drive-In has been running for the past two summers; a coupon where for every $15.00 you spend in the snack bar in one night you get $5.00 off in the snack bar, available starting the next business night through the end of that year’s season.
After you receive your tickets from John you’re directed toward your screen for the night. Screen 1 which is the larger of the two can hold around 300 cars - while Screen 2 can hold around 150 cars. Each screen has rows to park in that offer almost any angle to the screen one could want. Once parked many people set up chairs or blankets on the grassy area in front of their cars or in the beds of their trucks. Families are usually seen tossing around a football or frisbee, playing a small game of wiffle ball or tag in the roped off area in front of the screen from when they arrive up until showtime.
The snack bar which is located a short walk from screen two and halfway through rows of screen one offers affordable and freshly cooked food. Customers have the options of double or single ham or cheeseburgers cooked on the grill, freshly steamed hotdogs, personal 9 inch pizza’s available in pepperoni or cheese. Though their most popular food item which is widely known by locals and other returning customers is the perfectly cooked and piping hot crinkle cut french fries, if it is a busy night be prepared to wait for these! The snack bar also offers a wide variety of candy, soft drinks, bottled drinks like water and ice tea, and some hot options such as coffee, cocoa and tea - as well as a medley of novelty ice cream. Another customer favorite is the freshly popped popcorn topped with real butter that is melted on site, you wont find any fake hydrogenated oils here! The most expensive thing on the menu is the personal pizza ringing in at just under $6.00, some other highlights on the menu would be candy at $1.75, hotdogs at 1.65 and the jumbo popcorn which comes in at $5.50. The snack bar remains open throughout all of the movies until the last movie is done running for the night.
When the previews begin at sundown everyone settles into their cars, blankets, truck beds, or car hatches and enjoys a movie together under the stars, which shine beautifully in the tranquil darkness of the theatre property. Walking around you can hear audio from the cars so clearly it actually sounds like the speakers are still working.
When it comes to the end of the first movie there is a ‘vintage’ intermission trailer that was widely used by drive-ins in the 70’s which is a big hit among customers, returning and new. This serves as time for customers to use the restrooms, stock up on some more refreshments and get up to stretch before the second feature of the night begins. Things have been known to get a bit cramped in the small snack bar and three stall bathrooms throughout the night, especially if the intermissions on each screen happen to line up. Though this is part of the reason why Tevanian has started construction on a whole new snack bar in the fall of 2012.
The new snack bar, will be relocated from the middle of the Screen 1 area to the back, creating more space for cars to park. It will also hold 8 new stalls for the women’s room and a new larger and updated snack bar area - including a specific window for drinks, popcorn and candy to cut down on foot traffic in the snack bar for actual meal items. There is also a new projection booth which will hold the 2 original projectors for now. Tevanian isn’t quite ready to switch to digital just yet- though the switch from film reels (which he breaks down, splices, loads and rewinds himself nightly) to digital will indeed be happening within the next few years when the industry finally stops printing film all together. For now his hands are full planning and working on the construction of the new snack bar currently, in the theaters off season, as he plans to have a full opening with everything up and running in the spring.
The theatre usually opens for the season as soon as the snow is done flying for the year, which is often in April but no later than Memorial Day weekend in May. The 2012 season was the theaters earliest opening to date, gates opened for the year in late March! The theatre is also has been known to be open as late in the year as Halloween. However the largest weekend toward the end of the season is Labor Day weekend when they run a ‘Dusk Till Yawn’ triple feature on Screen 1 that is a big hit with the customers. Whatever the last weekend of the year may be the Bridgton Twin runs a ‘Customer Appreciation Weekend’ in which per person ticket sales change into a $10.00 a carload price and items such as candy, hotdogs and ice cream are discounted to $1.00 each!
Tevanian hand picks the movies that run on the screens himself, putting a lot of though into what will appeal to the masses, and are appropriate for all ages - since a lot of business seen at the Bridgton Twin are families. Very rarely will you see a rated R movie playing on Screen 1, which is usually reserved for kids movies and the big summer blockbusters. Screen 2 tends to hold the more violent, graphic or young adult oriented movies. The thought behind Screen 1 movie choices usually is to have a movie for the kids first, and then one for the parents after the kids have hopefully fallen asleep in the comfort of the backseat of the car. The movies run on a weekly schedule, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that they change every week. Sometimes movies run for weeks at a time if the demand for them is high enough - though they do try to bring in new movies as often as possible to give returning customers some variety in their options.
While many of the people that live in the surrounding towns year round do support the outdoor theatre, a lot of the business the Bridgton Twin sees is from out of state vacationers staying in the heavily populated rental houses and cabins nearby. Luckily the theatre is located in a beautiful beach area with lots of lakes and interesting boating, camping and hiking attractions that bring people driving by the theatre daily. About 10 minutes one way is Pleasant Mountain, better known as Shawnee Peak to those that travel to Bridgton in the winter months, a great place to hike during the ski resorts off season. Five minutes in the opposite direction brings to you to the newly redone Naples Causeway. Along the causeway you’ll find many attractions to occupy yourself during the day such as: jet ski and bike rentals, surf and sport shops, small boutiques, a mini golf course, ice cream stands, public beach access to Long Lake and a wide variety of restaurants such as Rick’s Cafe, The Landing, and Brays Pub. Some other attractions within an hour drive of the Bridgton Twin are Sebago Lake State Park, North Conway outlets and the Portland coastline.
Bridgton Maine and the surrounding towns have a lot of recreational activities to offer the locals, seasonal residents and tourists. There is truly something for everyone nestled in the beautiful Lakes Region area of Maine. As far as the Bridgton Twin Drive-In theatre, I would highly recommend anyone to this family friendly and affordable option for a nice night out, because is anything really better than spending time with your family under the Maine stars?
Directions if coming from Portland area:
Take Route 302 west this will bring you through Windham, Raymond, Casco and then to Naples. Follow 302 along the Naples Causeway, approximately 5 minutes from the causeway you’ll see a marquee for the Bridgton Twin Drive-In on your left.
Directions to Bridgton from the Maine Turnpike:
(South) Take Maine Turnpike to Exit 48, take the right when leaving the tollbooth area and go through 2 sets of lights, at the third light take a left onto Route 302 (from here follow directions above).
(North) Take Exit 63, make a left onto Route 115, heading towards Windham. Approximately 10 minutes later take a right onto Route 302 intersection in Windham. 30 minutes from there you’ll reach Bridgton.
For information about show times, prices or any other Bridgton Twin related inquiries use the following contact information: