SeattleInsider: Iconic Wheel-In theater needs $30,000 to keep drive-in experience alive

by: Michael Fox Updated:

Port Townsend, Wa. - Its slogan is simple: “Come watch the Stars … under the stars.”

And the Wheel-In drive-in theater in Port Townsend has been doing just that for 60 years.

Thousands of families have enjoyed the big-screen experience under the stars thanks to the dedication of a community doing its darndest to keep one of America’s favorite pastimes alive.

The Wheel-In opened in 1953 and is currently one of only four drive-in movie theaters still open in Washington state.

Third-generation owner Rick Wiley told SeattleInsider that the experience is meant to be “an affordable outdoor environment that gives you a real sense off America and simpler times.”

“It's very nostalgic and it is also a very contemporary entertainment in that you are experiencing two first-run Hollywood motion pictures on the biggest screen on the entire Olympic Peninsula,” Wiley said.

Rated the No. 1 drive-in theater in the western U.S. by Sunset Magazine, the Wheel-In has spent six decades growing and evolving with the changing times.

However this year, the iconic theater in Jefferson County faces the daunting task of converting from 35mm to digital.

If it doesn’t make the mandatory conversion, the Wheel-In big screen faces the real possibility of fizzling into nothing more than a blank white screen, in a big lot, where thousands of memories used to be made.

The conversion will cost the theater $70,000.

They have come up with $35,000 from their own budget, but are asking the people of western Washington to help them through a Kickstarter campaign.

They currently have raised $14,517 of their $35,000 goal.

The project will only be funded if they reach their goal by June 8.

Want to help keep the Wheel-In open? Click here to donate to their Kickstarter campaign and ensure that the magical drive-in experience will be here to stay for many years to come.