Twi-Light Gardens Drive-In

9520 N. May Avenue,
Oklahoma City, OK 73120

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 17 comments

MichaelKilgore on October 19, 2021 at 6:35 pm

The article that rivest266 found said that the Twilight Gardens would open on Sept. 15, 1950. I don’t think that happened, at least not then.

There’s no other evidence that the drive-in opened that weekend. On the contrary, the Twilight Gardens ran teaser ads such as “What is Twilight Gardens and Cartoonville” after the 15th and before its grand opening.

Depending on how you classify a soft opening (does invited-guests-only count?), the drive-in had a preview on Sept. 28, 1950, according to this note in Boxoffice about a week later: “Video Independent Theatres held a rehearsal run for its new super de luxe Twilight Gardens Drive-In in Oklahoma City’s exclusive Nichols Hills residential area at May avenue and Britton Road. This preview, held the night before the formal opening, was by invitation. A complete program of Technicolor feature and cartoons was given for the rehearsal run. In operation was the mirror pool and color fountain, the playground, Cartoonville, and its clowns, calliope music, pony rides, merry-go-round, auto racer, miniature train, other rides, slides and swings, all free to the kiddies. The playground opened at 5:30 p. m. for the preview. The drive-in managed by Otis Mooney, has two entrances, wide and spacious ramps, a wishing well, an open-air patio equipped with garden seats and streamlined concession stand. More than 600 cars drove in for the rehearsal run.”

Otherwise, the Twilight Gardens opened on Sept. 29, 1950, which was quoted in its final ad on Sept. 5, 1972. “Last Times Tonite! / Thank you Oklahoma City for your valued patronage over the last 22 years. Twilight Gardens closes after the final showing tonight, a victim of progress, to make room for a new development. … we opened our gates on September 29, 1950, and have operated continuously since, with the exception of several winter nights when blizzards struck their blow.” Actually, the drive-in closed for at least the first two winter seasons, but that was mostly accurate.

One last note - the only time I ever saw the drive-in’s name with a hyphen was on its neon sign. Every other mention, editorially or in ads, had Twilight as one word. That’s the way I’m going to write it from now on.

Mister_Comics on May 18, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Also shown in newspapers as “Twilight Gardens Auto Theater”. Makes me wonder just who was responsible for what was put in the ads?

As for the Crawling Thing… there were many casualties!

MichaelKilgore on May 18, 2019 at 4:11 pm

Hi MC! Love that Crawling Thing ad you uploaded – I wonder how the flying and creeping critters played out at a drive-in?

I agree completely that newspapers err, but look at that same ad. In advertisements, paid for by a business, that business approves everything. Years of those ads with a consistent spelling sway me into believing that’s how that business wanted to be known, which is my definition of a name. Then again, the marquee is fixed in metal, so maybe that’s how this drive-in should be remembered.

Mister_Comics on May 18, 2019 at 3:01 pm

Newspapers are known to make mistakes. The marquee never was changed, always showing it as Twi-Light". Cinema Treasures could add both versions of the drive-in name since papers usually had it in print as “Twilight”. CT’s call.

MichaelKilgore on May 18, 2019 at 11:31 am

Name-change date hint from the Jan. 9, 1954 Motion Picture Herald under the Oklahoma City header: “A new screen has been installed at Twilight Gardens drive-in theatre.”

Pedantic note: Since Cinema Treasures' style is to list a theater by its final name, the Twilight Gardens should be spelled that way here, without a hyphen. I’ve seen references both ways, but the final newspaper ads and mentions had those two complete words.

MichaelKilgore on February 23, 2019 at 3:48 pm

This drive-in closed some time in 1972. I noticed it in an ad in June 1972. It was the subject of an auction on Nov. 16, 1972, and a Daily Oklahoman article from March 11, 1973 announced plans for a mall at the site “once occupied by the Twilight Gardens drive-in theater.”

Mister_Comics on October 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Newspaper ads show the drive-in name as “Twilight” which is wrong. The drive-in marquee shows it as" Twi-Light"

thesparky1 on February 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm

It would have been the end of the era when we started going to this theater. We moved from S. 74th and May to Bethany. The first movie I remember here was Planet of the Apes. The kids play area was run down and not operated. Enough of us kids got together and were able to push the train. My parents would comment about movies they saw with their friends, like Dirty Harry and Death Wish. For the longest time I forgot about this theatre but everytime I was north of Britton and May, I had a de-ja-vue feeling that was overhelming.

whorton on February 6, 2013 at 1:05 am

Just wanted to take a moment and correct Okie’s assertion that the Quail Twin was built on the site of the old Twilight gardens. Please take a look at this article:

Which is courtesy of the Daily Oklahoman.

The drive in was located on the North East corner of May and Britton. The Quail Twin was located in the shopping center at the North East corner of May and Hefner. .

kpaulsen on April 26, 2012 at 8:14 am

This is to kaidanerwin. I also lived on CArlton Way, at 2821, and played with my friends behind Twilight Gardens during that same time. Do you remember all the pigeons, tons of them. My parents also took us in our station wagon and my mom made us put on our pajamas when we went to the drive in. So its weird cause we also moved to Quail Creek from there. I have to know you but the name does not sound familiar.

kaidanerwin on August 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Twilight Gardens was literally a block behind my childhood house on Carleton Way in The Village. Everyone could see the back of the massive screen from their backyards along Carlton Way and Chaucer Drive. My parents, older brother and older sister used to pile into my dad’s station wagon, fill the back end of it up with blankets and pillows and go see a double feature there on hot summer nights in the 60’s – lots of screwball comedies, the first Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, etc) and James Bond movies. I remember the multi-tiered water fountain and all the multicolored lights on it near the entry to the theater and the same colored lights along the perimeter fence, the crunch of the gravel under the tires as you arrived and left. It felt kinda magical going there. By the 60’s and 70’s when I was going there, the kiddy rides at the foot of the screen were pretty broken down and no longer electrified. We used to push the carousel ourselves to make it go round and same with the little train. Usually, we kids fell asleep in the back of the station wagon by the middle of the second feature and I remember so well the sound of the crunching gravel coming up through the floor of the car where we slept as my dad would slowly pull out of the theater and drive us home.

“Okie”’s comment is not quite right. The Quail Twin movie theater was in the Quail Creek part of OKC, something like 20 blocks away. My family and I moved to Quail Creek when I was 13 years old and that theater was apart of the Quail Plaza Shopping Center. Twilight Gardens was in The Village not far from the corner of Britton Road and May Avenue. The Quail Twin was up near May Avenue and Hefner Road.

missmelbatoast on May 29, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Here is a fantastic link that has a lot of classic Oklahoma theatres. Click below to read a brief history of Twilight Gardens Drive-in, with lots of photos. That grand opening ad doesn’t exaggerate the magnificence of the graceful entrance foujntain.
View link

Rodney on September 10, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Vintage construction shots of Twilight Gardens can be seen by typing in word ‘twilight.
View link

SpikeSpiegel6262044 on July 9, 2006 at 11:05 am

Oh man that sounded freakin' sweet! My old drive-in, The Hartford was fun, there was a playground and it was just sweet.

xxx on July 9, 2006 at 8:31 am

Twilight Gardens Drive-In Theatre was charming. Fragrant pine trees and foliage lined winding, white gravel entrance drives. Boxoffice lines were made less stressful when one could watch cool dancing water spill over an exquisite five tier fountain.
The concession stand was nondescript until darkness fell to reveal that it was outlined in soft blue indirect lighting.
Situated beneath a massive screen tower was a joyous play-land that enticed children with a miniature train, a carrousel, a ferris wheel, boat rides, a playhouse maze, and (for the first 150 children) free toy balloons and/or whistles.

Okie on July 9, 2006 at 6:44 am

On the site of the former Twilight Gardens Drive-In Theatre was built Quail Twin Cinemas, which now stand vacant.