Boulevard Drive-In1051 Merriam Ln
Kansas City, KS 66103
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There are always the best movies playing at the Boulevard Drive-In. The movies show almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. For this weekends movies and times, CLICK HERE.
$10.00 per person (CASH ONLY!!)
Children 11 and under FREE
The Interesting History of the Boulevard Drive-In
The following history written by owner and operator, Wes Neal
The Boulevard Drive-In opened for business on June 30, 1950. It had a capacity of 600 cars. At that time, the address was considered as 1800 Southwest Boulevard. Early, the Boulevard enjoyed very good years, and then a series of very bad years before being rebuilt to serve today's families.
During the 1950s and early 1960's, in warm weather on Friday and Saturday nights, the Drive-In would be filled to capacity, in fact, on one particular Saturday night, the box office registered 1100 cars. Money was rolling in by the pockets full. The initial investment was recovered in just 2 years.
Drive-in owners of the early years were getting rich while inside theatres were going dark, almost to the point of extinction in some urban localities.
When the Boulevard opened in 1950 there were already six Drive-In Theatres operating in the Kansas City area. On the Boulevard's opening night in 1950, the Shawnee Drive-In was showing, "Blondie Hits the Jackpot." The Crest Drive In was showing "Tall in the Saddle". Hi Way 40 was showing "Three Came some", Riverside was showing "Tanks a Million", the Kansas Drive In was showing "Mother Didn't Tell Me", the Spa was showing "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" and the Boulevard was showing "The Lady takes a Sailor."
When the Boulevard opened in 1950, the admission prices were 60 cents for adults, children under 12 were free, just as they are now. Today a ticket cost $6.00. I was paying 25 cents for a haircut back then and now they are $10.00 and up.
An automobile was $1,500.00 and now they are $30,000.00 and up. The point being, theatre tickets haven't kept pace with other things in today's market place.
Professional sports were not yet popular SO the thing to do on week-ends was, "Let's go to the Drive-In!"
Every Friday and Saturday night for years, we were having to turn away many patrons for lack of space. At that time the film companies would not rent first run films to drive ins, as they do now.
On a personal note, [started to work at the Boulevard in August 1954 from 7pm to 3am for only $3.00 per night. I also had a day job where I worked 8am to 4:30 pm. This continued until 1986 when I retired from the Bayer Corporation. After my retirement all my efforts could be devoted to the theater. (THE SHOW MUST GO ON!)
Now I say, and it has not been disputed, that we have the best drive in in the world. We know for a fact that no other drive in has a sound system as good as ours and it is doubtful if there is a clearer or brighter picture any where inside or out.
We believe we have as good a presentation as possible at this time Basically, the drive in was rebuilt as well as could be, considering the frequent flooding.
We are proud to furnish you the best drive in experience and the best presentation possible.
We hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.
A Walk through the Boulevard Drive-In
Let's go on a tour of the drive in. As you can see, the marquee looked a little bare in the beginning. A little later, tbe supports were covered with sheet metal and a planter added underneath. All the lighting was neon except for the yellow arrow. In 1999 the old white panels were replaced with new white lexan and new fluorescent lights installed inside the panels which made for much brighter luminescence. The moon and the star were also then added.
Everyone likes our curved drive way with the overhanging trees. The evergreens, however, are getting old now and are not as attractive as they once were. The lawn is still beautiful in the spring and summer.
The Box Office
The box office is still pretty much original, except for the signage which is about 4 years old.We refer to the field as that area which is inhabited by the speaker posts. Some may call it the Llanos Estacados or the staked plains.
There are now 600 speakers in the field that is as it was in 1950, however in the late 1950's we added another 100 speakers around the perimeter, which brought the total to 700. In the late 1970's we did not need the extra speakers so they were removed. Every couple of years we have to remove all the speakers for repair because of flooding.
The original screen was constructed totally of wood. It measured 45 feet high and 60 feet wide. In March of 1971 during a movie a strong wind tore out about a third of the screen. It fell to the ground in the playground below.
The tower was then replaced with an all metal screen 75 feet high and 100 feet wide. Now 30 years later that tower is still in pretty good condition. We have to repaint it only every four to five years.
In June 1975 we opened a Swap & Shop or Flea Market, if you will. It sort of poked along until 1981 when the radio station, 61 County, sponsored a free Swap & Shop at the Drive In. Jim Tyler and David Lawrence were the hosts. It was a big success. We had people from all the adjoining states. There was not an open parking space within 2 miles of us. That put our Swap & Shop on the map. The Swap pulled us through some lean years in tbe late 1980's and early 1990's, thanks to WDAF radio's Jim Tyler and David Lawrence.
The Concession Stand
The original snack bar was expanded in 1955. The owners at that time did not anticipate the amount of traffic that the theatre had created. They added new restrooms to the building so they were much larger and had an outside entrance. This created more storage space.