El Dorado Drive-In

4639 El Dorado Road,
Placerville, CA 95667

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Se Rancho Drive-In

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El Dorado Drive-In

The El Dorado Drive-In opened as the Se Rancho on December 15, 1949 under the management of Vic Banta and was described as being five miles west of Placerville on Highway 50 to Sacramento. The opening advertisemnt read: โ€œRegardless of what you hear the Se Rancho Drive-In Theater is home-owned and NOT connected with ANY chain.โ€ This may have stemmed from the earlier reports in the Mountain Democrat that Fred Naify of the T&D chain was interested in purchasing another site near Placerville for his own drive-in.

In-car heaters were available soon after it opened and it showed its first CinemaScope picture on October 3, 1954 on a 100x40 feet screen. On May 5, 1976, after an ownership change to the Jerry and Aria Toler, it became the El Dorado Drive-In. The Tolers also operated the Empire Theatre on Main Street.

The El Dorado Drive-In was listed in the newspaper theater section as late as August 1988 as still showing movies but appears to have closed after the 1988 season. Advertisements in the classified section in January of 1989 said it was for sale for $225,000.

Contributed by rpierce

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on July 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Upload Goggle Earth 1993

Rootieboy on March 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm

The last movies I saw in this theater were License to Drive and Crocodile Dundee 2. Both were in 1988, just before the Drive-In closed.

tripgrip on June 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm

The last time we were there was when we were in high school (Ponderosa High) in 1971 and saw “Diamond are Forever”. You could lay out under the stars in the back of a friends pickup on a mattress and enjoy the movie and the summer. Those were the good ole days.

davidcoppock on June 20, 2017 at 9:27 am

Is Placerville a gold mining area hence the El Dorado name?

Trolleyguy on June 20, 2017 at 10:59 am

That is correct. It is in the original area where the gold rush started in California. This city was known by several different names, including Old Dry Diggings and Hangtown before officially becoming Placerville in 1854.

MichaelKilgore on December 5, 2019 at 12:11 pm

Boxoffice, Jan. 7, 1950: “The new Rancho Drive-In opened last week in Placerville. It is operated by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Freitas and Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Freitas of San Juan Bautista and Mr. and Mrs. Victor Banta of Placerville.”

Jamey_monroe45 on July 30, 2023 at 9:05 pm

Believe it or not, most ramps and concession stand are still there! All it needs is a screen and some fixin'up! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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