Model 3 at the Drive-In Movies

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Maevra

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Oct 24, 2017
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908
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Austin, TX
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Model 3
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#1
Husband and I recently went to a drive-in movie theater in the Model 3 and found it a very cool experience. I was honestly apprehensive because I've heard from Model S owners that they had issues with the headlights not staying off or the MCU shutting down in the middle of the movie etc., so it was a bit of a gamble. Thankfully, it seems the 3 is an ideal car to take to on movie date night. :)

We simply pulled up to a parking spot, put the car in Park and manually turned off the exterior and interior lights. The screen was always on and set to night mode. I think we also could have put it into screen cleaning mode to minimize the lights even more, but honestly didn't feel like it was necessary.

However, we did have to manually turn off the auto-wipers as they would go off every few seconds, perhaps due to the combo of the angle of the screen + lights + dust particles on the windshield.

I still think the FM radio UI could use some improvement, but we were able to tune in to the movie's channel and the quality of the sound was great! Definitely glad we have the premium sound in the car for this.

We used the seat heaters and HVAC on and off throughout, and lost about 5 miles in 2.5 hours total with the HVAC + media on. Car never went to sleep or shut down, though we were poking the screen every so often to adjust the heater temps.

Overall, pretty cool experience!
 
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ng0

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Apr 11, 2017
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996
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San Diego
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#2
Husband and I recently went to a drive-in movie theater in the Model 3 and found it a very cool experience. I was honestly apprehensive because I've heard from Model S owners that they had issues with the headlights not staying off or the MCU shutting down in the middle of the movie etc., so it was a bit of a gamble. Thankfully, it seems the 3 is an ideal car to take to on movie date night. :)

We simply pulled up to a parking spot, put the car in Park and manually turned off the exterior and interior lights. The screen was always on and set to night mode. I think we also could have put it into screen cleaning mode to minimize the lighst even more, but honestly didn't feel like it was necessary.

However, we did have to manually turn off the auto-wipers as they would go off every few seconds, perhaps due to the combo of the angle of the screen + lights + dust particles on the windshield.

I still think the FM radio UI could use some improvement, but we were able to tune in to the movie's channel and the quality of the sound was great! Definitely glad we have the premium sound in the car for this.

We used the seat heaters and HVAC on and off throughout, and lost about 5 miles in 2.5 hours total with the HVAC + media on. Car never went to sleep or shut down, though we were poking the screen every so often to adjust the heater temps.

Overall, pretty cool experience!
What's a drive-in movie? LoL jk. :p Sadly there aren't too many left. I heard there was one still in San Diego, but have never actually been to it. Might have to try it out one day when I get my car. :) Thanks for posting your experience!
 

Maevra

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908
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Austin, TX
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Model 3
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#4
What's a drive-in movie? LoL jk. :p Sadly there aren't too many left. I heard there was one still in San Diego, but have never actually been to it. Might have to try it out one day when I get my car. :) Thanks for posting your experience!
Lol it's the first time I'd ever been to one too! Luckily we have a couple of them here in the Bay Area. I think the biggest perk is we can bring our dog, so fun for the whole family indeed. :D
 

reallove

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Sep 20, 2017
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43
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ME
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#5
@Maevra thanks for posting this! Thanks to you, my drive-in experience was great last night (the screen cleaning trick was genius!). Had some glitches with the radio (it completely died on me right when the movie started, had no sound at all on any channels, but worked for internet radio), but a soft reset fixed it!
 

Jim Brown

Active member
Joined
May 2, 2016
Messages
136
Location
Pensacola, FL
Tesla Owner
Model 3
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Country
#6
Husband and I recently went to a drive-in movie theater in the Model 3 and found it a very cool experience. I was honestly apprehensive because I've heard from Model S owners that they had issues with the headlights not staying off or the MCU shutting down in the middle of the movie etc., so it was a bit of a gamble. Thankfully, it seems the 3 is an ideal car to take to on movie date night. :)

We simply pulled up to a parking spot, put the car in Park and manually turned off the exterior and interior lights. The screen was always on and set to night mode. I think we also could have put it into screen cleaning mode to minimize the lights even more, but honestly didn't feel like it was necessary.

However, we did have to manually turn off the auto-wipers as they would go off every few seconds, perhaps due to the combo of the angle of the screen + lights + dust particles on the windshield.

I still think the FM radio UI could use some improvement, but we were able to tune in to the movie's channel and the quality of the sound was great! Definitely glad we have the premium sound in the car for this.

We used the seat heaters and HVAC on and off throughout, and lost about 5 miles in 2.5 hours total with the HVAC + media on. Car never went to sleep or shut down, though we were poking the screen every so often to adjust the heater temps.

Overall, pretty cool experience!
Drive-in movies. Yeah. Those were the days!
 

Rick Steinwand

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May 19, 2018
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671
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Fargo, ND
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Model 3
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#7
You don't find drive-in movies up north any more. Seems to be more of a "south" thing due to being able to leave them open longer in the year.

The last time I was in a drive-in theatre was when I managed one and was glad when it finally closed. They might be fun to go to, but are definitely not fun to work in or manage.

My opinion is they went out of favor due to cable TV and home AC becoming more popular and turned into a place for under-aged kids to party, which just created a problem for managers of them.
 

TheTony

It happened.
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Minneapolis Suburbs, MN
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#8
You don't find drive-in movies up north any more. Seems to be more of a "south" thing due to being able to leave them open longer in the year.
They're certainly much harder to find in Minnesota than they used to be, and I grew up after their peak, really. There used to be 2 within 10-15 minutes of my neighborhood when I was a kid. However, the one closest to me closed in the mid 80's and the other held on until after 2000. Their demise locally is probably not due to a single factor, but the rise of the multi-plex, home video and the growth of the suburbs (and the value of the land, in turn) all certainly played a role.

Still, there are still a handful alive and kicking in Minnesota. The first and only one left in the MSP metro is Vali-Hi, in Lake Elmo. There's also the twin screen Starlite in Litchfield and the Long Prarie Drive-In (halfway between Alexandria and Brainerd).
 
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GDN

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Far North Dallas, TX
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#9
There is a drive in South of DFW, I think down near Waxahachie. The local Tesla club makes an outing there once or twice a year. Will have to remember the tips and tricks to keep the lights off and the car behaving.
 

DocScott

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Westchester, NY
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#10
My wife and I took a Tesla to a drive-in movie tonight. It wasn't my regular Model 3, because it's in the shop--it was the Model S they loaned me. It's on an oldish firmware--I think 2019.20.4. So maybe the behavior I'm about to describe has been fixed, or doesn't apply to Model 3's...but I'd like to know other people's experiences and suggestions before I go through something like this again:

We parked at a spot in the drive-in, with the FM radio tuned to the Drive-In's station for the sound. We dimmed the touchscreen, set all the lights except the ambient ones to off, opened the moon roof, and turned the climate control to manual to provide a little floor heat.

But after a while, the touchscreen went blank and the sound went off--the car apparently went to sleep, or something close to it. The only way we found to wake it up (and we didn't experiment a lot--the movie was playing!) was to step on the brake. That woke the car up, and the touchscreen and sound came back...but it also reset the exterior lights to auto, which meant they came on, blinding the car in front of us! This happened three times (or was it four?) before I realized I tried opening and closing menus on the touchscreen every ten minutes or so to keep it from going to sleep. That worked but, needless to say, was a bit distracting. And if I were the people in front of us, I'd be ticked at the headlights coming on three different times during the movie!

Is there some setting we can use to keep that from happening? It seems weird that the car behaved that way, since the sensors should have told it that there were people in both the driver's and passenger's seats. And the going to sleep was one thing, but the fact that the lights kept switching back to "auto" and then turning on even though we were still in park was truly annoying.
 

NOGA$4ME

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661
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Durham, NC
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#11
I have a similar complaint about trying to use the Model 3's audio during a tailgate. It keeps shutting off every 15 minutes. I've found on the Model 3 I just have to reach in and touch the touchscreen to get the sound to come back on. At first I was reaching in and touching the brake, but I found that that was not necessary and a simple touchscreen press would do it. I can't say what the Model S behavior is.

Support for this kind of thing is what is known as "Party Mode" and Elon promised it a long time ago, but then said that Tesla would be focusing on safety issues (like Dog Mode) instead. Okay, I get it...it's not a top priority, but it also doesn't seem like a huge deal. I am really hoping that V10 finally includes this.

I did come across a workaround for this, but I think it only seemed to work in the Model S and X. Basically the idea was to put the car in neutral and apply the parking brake. This would keep the car "on" indefinitely. The reason it didn't work in the Model 3 (or at least I never figured out how to) was that as soon as the driver left the seat, it would put the car into PARK and then it would turn the car off. But if you are sitting in your seat at the drive in, then maybe this wouldn't be a problem.

Now, onto the drive-in experience. An EV would make an especially good drive-in vehicle as you could sit in the vehicle with the AC on and enjoy the movie. When the kids were younger, we went to the drive-in all the time, and I would be annoyed at people that would run their cars throughout the hole movie so they could keep their air on. Some people did rig up screens for their windows so they could keep the windows down to get some air flow. We always used to simply take lawn chairs and a portable radio and sit outside the car (this is why it was annoying when people were running their cars during the movie!) Yes, we needed lots of bug spray, but it was really nice to be sitting out in the open watching a movie. This is the drive-in we always went to: https://sunsetdrivein.com/ So to dispel a few of the statements above: It is still in business; it not only has one screen, but FOUR! And it is in Vermont, which last time I checked, was pretty far north! It was nice because you could sometimes position your car so that the kids could watch one movie while you watched a different one. The kids pretty much fell asleep after the first movie so my wife and I could watch whatever we wanted for the second one (another reason why we preferred to be outside, so we wouldn't wake the kids). We only lived a half mile from this theater, so we went all the time. Great times!
 

DocScott

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#12
Thanks, NOGA$4ME! I'll try the neutral + parking brake trick next time (which probably won't be until next summer) and report back.

As far as drive-ins, there are four separate theaters within about 80 miles of me, each with multiple screens! So yeah, drive-ins are alive and well. They all run double-features for around $12 per adult, so they're also a bargain. It does take maybe an hour each way to get to them, so it's not an every week thing, but it's a nice change of pace in the summer.

I live in the northern suburbs of New York City. There are additional drive-ins on Long Island (the eastern suburbs), and I have no doubt there are some in Jersey too, to the south and west. Basically, you just need cheap land. So they've disappeared from the close-in suburbs, but they're still going strong in the countryside.