During the week, the lot at The Drive-In sits vacant—but it's far from abandoned. A bit before the clock strikes 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, cars start to crowd into empty spots. The carloads of families and couples on date night are there for the feature, which usually includes one kid-friendly movie—think Planes—or one for grownups, such as Wolverine. Plus, audience members can munch on buckets of popcorn as films unfold.
The Edge’s movie masters light up wall-to-wall screens with anticipated blockbusters and obscure indie flicks as guests kick back in high-backed, adjustable chairs. 18-inch risers position each row at just the right height for an unobstructed stadium-style view, and Dolby Digital surround sound systems tickle eardrums with multidimensional soundscapes. While cinephiles tuck in to tasty tidbits and delicious plotlines, moveable cup-holder armrests make it easy to stow beverages, snuggle with loved ones, or catapult beverages onto not-so-loved ones. The concessions stand sells beer and wine throughout screenings.
At CinéBistro, a luxurious dining theater, patrons settle into wide cushioned seats as they watch the latest action flicks and comedies flicker on the silver screen. Viewing companions alternate drawing buttery, salty puffed maize out of a shared tub of popcorn, hoping to find Gene Hackman's golden business card buried somewhere inside. Although not included with this Groupon, CinéBistro serves seated cinema aficionados a wide menu of appetizers, entrees, and desserts to complement their popcorn, from a caesar salad for a light meal ($10.75) to a pan-seared Atlantic salmon cooked to order ($19.50). Dessert indulgences include a deconstructed peanut-butter pie ($8), and liquid indulgences proffer a wine list full of international vintages to guzzle during foreign movies, as well as domestic and imported beers, martinis, and cocktails.
Rave Motion Pictures screens the summer blockbusters in 20 auditoriums outfitted with stadium seating. The theaters' digital projectors allow projectionists to easily play such gripping tales as Scream 4, a documentary about Sidney Prescott's return to Woodsboro, where Ghostface threatens the townspeople's safety (movies playing subject to change). Stretch out while watching as rows are spaced 48 inches apart from one another, one for each of the states recognized by most public-school systems. Check showtimes online for all the movies screening throughout the summer.
In one corner, kids practice cracking a safe. In another, tiny hands sift through sand to find ancient fossils, with no archaeologists in sight. Toddlers, meanwhile, wander through a surreal dreamscape of 10-foot milk cartons and car-sized paper towel rolls. But these aren’t scenes from a zany summer movie about all the adults disappearing: they're snapshots of the McWane Science Center, whose dozens of fun, interactive exhibits enliven science.
Notable exhibits include a collection of Alabama dinosaur skeletons that help us understand what life was like in the state millions of years ago. An aquarium area boasts a Shark & Ray Touch Tank, delighting visitors with an aquatic petting zoo. Interactive contraptions such as the pulley chair lift—which lets kids learn about simple machines as they hoist themselves aloft—convey abstract concepts with fun activities.
As part of the Alabama Symphony's Sounds for Summer series, both shows bring contemporary musical entertainment to the ornately gilded, classy venue. The Act of Congress and Three on a String show tickles tiny earhammers with modern bluegrass and genre-spanning hits. Or hear Country's Hit Makers: Behind the Hits, which packs a 15-song set with recent country billboard toppers such as "Cowboy Casanova" and "American Honey." Both shows are conducted by Christopher Confessore, the ASO's principal pops conductor.