Sunnyside - "Largest Screen in the World"

Who could forget the fabulous Crest or the Tower Theater? Fresno’s drive-ins were the most popular with teens, among them the Moon-Glow and the Sunset. The world’s largest outdoor screen was housed at the Sunnyside Drive-in. Did you hide in the trunk to save 50 cents or possibly steam up the car’s windows? Share your old Fresno theater memories here.
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Sunnyside - "Largest Screen in the World"

Postby Sharlsie » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:12 am

Boy, we used to go to the Sunnyside all the time! When we first all got our licenses when we turned 16 in 1973, we went every weekend, no matter if the same movie from the week before was showing (which it usually was.) I can't count how many times I saw Live or Let Die that summer. But still it was absolutely great, a sad day that they tore it down.

*Note from admin. Newspaper clipping from 1965 was added announcing the grand opening of the Sunnyside Drive In.
Fresno Bee - Mom May 24, 1965 - Sunnyside grand opening ad

Lost Fresno
Site Admin
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Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby Lost Fresno » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:43 pm

I was so excited to see a brand new drive-in opening in Fresno in 1968. But it wasn't just another hacked-up twin screen affair but it was advertized as "The World's Largest Outdoor Screen". Wow, I thought, that's for me. During the first few months of the grand opening of the Sunnyside Drive-In, I remember they had attendants roaming throughout the facility dressed in 1890 motor car coats. They were all white and floor length and they wore those funny 1890 driving caps and had a pair of goggles riding high atop them. I believe that was Fresno's first drive-in that had car heaters that you could set on your side window like the speakers did. Man, that was some drive-in! The photo below of the crumbling sign is hard to look at.
Sunnyside in bad shape.jpg
Sunnyside Drive In sign in bad shape before tear down

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Re: Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby Sharlsie » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:43 am

Ahhhh, I spent many a weekend going to Sunnyside Drive-in. Even though they kept the same movies for weeks at a time, we'd still go just to go. I must have seen To Live or Let Die and American Graffiti a million times there. I was born and raised in Fresno (1957 - 1977, then I joined the USMC and left) and my mom and best friends still live there so I go back once or twice a year to visit, and yeah, Fresno is not the place it used to be. And it was a good place to grow up in back then. I'm trying to picture the Moon-Glo though. I know we used to go to Sunnyside and to Starlite on Fresno St., but I don't remember going to the Moon-Glo or even seeing it. Was it on the west side of Fresno?

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Re: Drive In Theaters

Postby RAR » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:08 pm

I remember one cold December night in the late 1960s when I was teenager. We drove across town to the Sunnyside, watched the first feature and then shortly after the second feature started, the fog rolled in and the movie just disappeared. They gave us a "fog check" and we left, heading back towards the Fig Garden area where we lived. As we drove west on Shaw, we saw the movie at the Starlite and realized that there was no fog there. We used our fogcheck to get in, watched a film and then, again, shortly after the second feature began, the fog rolled in once more. Again, we got a fogcheck, and away we went. Two movies, no charge!

There was nothing better than a night at a Fresno drive in theatre, especially a warm summer night.

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Re: Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby jcred » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:37 pm

Cant remember the name of the last movie shown there only remember that a classmate of mine from Roosevelt was working there as an usher at the the back gate on Clovis ave and later found out on Ch 30 Action News with Roger Rocka and Gus Zerniel on sports and Roy Isom on that night, that my classmate had been shot and killed. Always thought that was part of the reason they closed. This was unheard of in 1978

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Re: Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby LftFrsno1972 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:57 am

Grew up in the Tulare and Miniwawa area, used to walk in the exit and sit on the ground with a heater and a speaker and enjoy such classics as Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was great being poor. Later in life drove in the exit not believing those dull spikes could actually destroy my tires, They will, it turns out and they did.
Sunnyside drive in sad shape.jpg
The Sunnyside Drive in was in sad shape in this photo

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Re: Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby LAWhitton » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:30 pm

We lived on Clay Street very close to the Sunnyside drive-in. We could see the screens from our house if we got on the roof. We used to go get Chinese food and take it to the drive-in with us. Sometimes we would take our pick-up truck and park it in backwards with lawn chairs and blankets in the back. We had two little children who would lay on the blankets and always fall asleep before the movie was over. We later moved further out into Clovis, but we would once in a while go back to Sunnyside Drive-in. It was such a shame when it become a swap meet, I know a lot of people enjoyed that too, but it got so run down and it was sad for us because we had such good memories of what it was like before.

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Re: Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby FresnoBeach » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:12 pm

I don't remember seeing any movies here but I do remember going to the Swap Meets they had there in the late 70s.


Re: Drive In Theaters

Postby Jack » Sun May 05, 2013 11:08 pm

At one time, I believe Sunnyside Drive In had a third screen, to the west end. Wasn't there for very long. Attached is an article about the opening from the Fresno Bee on Sunday, May 23, 1965.
Ladies help get the drive in ready
Great article about the opening which was published in 1965

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Re: Sunnyside Drive-In

Postby senpaidonna » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:03 am

Saw sooo many movies here. It used to be the "nice" drive-in. It was so convenient, too. There was a 7-11 down the street to buy a six pack of Orange Crush in the little bottles, and a KFC near to buy a barrel of chicken. Wear your jammies, eat cold chicken and fresh popcorn, play on the playground up front. My dad used to buy hamburgers at the snack bar, but my mom would never let me have one. She said they'd give me ptomaine poisoning. But my dad always slipped me one, mustard-y and steamy warm in its foil wrapper. I loved going there, unless we took John. John was the son of my parents' friend. He was too scared to go to the playground, and he always threw up before the movie was over. My mom said it must have been the smell from the across the street, but my dad and I knew it was because he was, as my dad said, "a doofy scare-baby." I drive past it now, and I still think of crouching down and eating those forbidden burgers and hearing John say, "I don't feel good."

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