Ruskin Family Drive-in

Jennifer Teuber

GA Beat 2

Ruskin Family Drive-in

The Ruskin Family Drive-In Theatre has been a community-gathering place since its first movie, “Singing in the Rain,” played in 1952.

Owner Ted Freiwald said he is trying to be what drive-ins used to be. He begins each night by telling the audience, “It’s always 1955 and we go by 1950s guidelines.”

At $4.50 per person for two movies, the drive-in offers a cheap night out for the whole family. Children under 8 are admitted free with their parents. Freiwald said he also lets children start the movie in the projection room and gives them a certificate that they are a junior projectionist at the theatre. He says he lets them do it because it’s probably something they’ll never see or do again.

The snack bar opens as soon as the box office opens at 7:15 p.m. and serves food each night through intermission and the beginning of the second movie. Straight from the grill come hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and cheese dogs. Snacks consist of popcorn, dill pickles, nachos with cheese, candy bars and ice cream. 12-inch whole cheese or pepperoni pizzas also are sold. Beverages include Pepsi products, root beer, pink lemonade, fruit punch and bottled spring water. For those cold nights, coffee and hot chocolate (regular or sugar-free) are served.

“You make your money at the snack bar or you don’t make anything at all,” Freiwald said.

Comparing prices to an indoor theatre, a large popcorn at the Ruskin Family Drive-in costs $3.25 as opposed to $6. At $2.75 a large drink  is nearly half of the price as one at a movie theatre. The snack bar only accepts cash.

The drive-in is now showing Death Sentence and Dragon Wars. According to, movies typically run weekly from Friday to Thursday and there is usually a 15-minute intermission after the first movie. Starting Friday, Oct. 5, the Dark is Rising and Fantastic 4: the Rise of the Silver Surfer will be shown. Both movies are rated PG.

The 2,000-square foot screen has been blown down by hurricanes and other storms seven times since 1952. Freiwald said he’s put it back up himself three of those seven times.

As a family-oriented drive-in theatre, as part of the admission price it is expected and demanded that every patron respect every other patron’s right to hear and see the movie in peace and quiet. The following are a few rules for patrons of the drive-in:

  • They do not allow alcohol or drugs on the premises (this includes opened container, unopened container or consumed)
  • No rowdiness is allowed.
  • Sitting or lying in the empty parking space is not permitted.
  • An adult must accompany children at all times.
  • All large vehicles must park on the last row of speakers.

Freiwald says the biggest problem he has is people sitting in empty parking spaces. He says if he catches someone with a beer they’re out for life. “If I put up the sign and don’t enforce it, I’d be a hypocrite,” he said.

No motorcycles or RV’s are allowed in the drive-in. The Drive-in allows you to bring your dogs with you as long as you keep them on a leash, they do not bark around people, and you clean up after them.

They never show X-rated or NC-17 rated films. The theatre is open every night – 365 days a year rain or shine, hot or cold, including holidays. For more information call (813) 645-1455 or visit or


3 Responses to “Ruskin Family Drive-in”

  1. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    The profile story would have been better if you focused on the owner. He seems like an interesting character. I don’t know if what is on the menu and the drive in rules are what the reader are looking for. – Court H

  2. Aaron Says:

    I like how you write it is a vintage place without actualy typing the word. I think you could have left out family-oriented.

  3. Celeste Says:

    The Ruskin Family Drive-In is a GREAT place. I grew up in Ruskin and have been to the Drive-In lots of times. The $5 per person price of two movies is the best deal around. And I have known Ted for a very long time and you couldn’t meet a nicer person. And he doesn’t put up with anything from anybody. I have been there when he has stopped a movie when someone is doing something they shouldn’t be. I have seen him put people out because of alcohol. And I think that is a good thing. We need more places like this in our area.

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