Naples Twin Drive-In
Firano Drive and Davis Boulevard,
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The Naples Twin Drive-In opened on February 29, 1974. Screen 1 viewers were treated to the 1973 comedy/drama “Paper Moon” with Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal and Madeline Kahn. The second feature was the 1972 action “Fear is the Key” with Barry Newman, Suzy Kendall and John Vernon. Showing on Screen 2 was the 1974 action “Gator Bait” with Claudia Jennings, Sam Gilman and Douglas Dirkson. The second feature was the 1972 action “The Hitchhikers” with Misty Rowe, Nick Klar and Linda Avery. The drive-in was built by A. W. Cook Jr., dba Cook Theatres. It could hold 700 cars on the two parking ramps and featured two 80 ft. X 40 ft. screen towers. Cook was his own contractor for the building of the drive-in so he designed the drive-in to include air conditioning for each car. Unfortunately, because of the energy crisis they would not be operational in the beginning.
The Naples Twin was one part of a Family Recreation Center which would include the drive-in theatre along with a miniature golf course and a driving range. The movie times were staggered 15 minutes apart to prevent traffic tie-ups. In addition, they had a flea market on Saturday and Sunday. Over the years since the opening of the drive-in, Cook tried different entertainment formats and promotional ploys along with screening first run films, B movies, X and R rated movies. He could not get the Family Recreation Center concept to work as he envisioned it would. One problem was he built the drive-in theatre too late. At that time in the mid-1970’s drive-ins were beginning to close because of the rising value of the property. Another deterrent to the theatre business was the popularity of cable TV and VCR’s making it difficult to compete.
I believe he sold the drive-in property to a new owner in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In 1994, the new owners hired Jack Hegarty and his family to be the new operator of the Naples Twin. They lived in a trailer at the drive-in which was located next to the concession/projection building. Before coming to Naples he used to manage drive-in theatres and worked for General Cinema from Fort Lauderdale. Some of the changes he made were keeping the drive-in open all year long, with a farmers market and flea market on Saturday and Sunday. The Naples Twin Drive-In screened its last film on April 30, 2006. The property was sold, the drive-in was demolished and it was redeveloped into “Firano at Naples” luxury homes.
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