First impression: Spectacular!
I don’t like to give away too many secrets, but this place is worth raving about. Not only is it the first drive-in theater in Hong Kong and the largest outdoor screen in Asia, but its location is breathtaking and must rank among the most scenic of all drive-in theaters in the world. (None of my photos below will do it justice.)
Located on 108 Austin Road West in the shadow of the West Kowloon building boom, the drive-in is situated directly on the harbor-front. Occupying a swath of reclaimed land that is slated to become a huge development with several museums and a concert hall, the drive-in is actually home to two massive screens. For a point of reference, the theater’s neighbors include the far end of Canton Road (in Tsim Sha Tsui,) the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, Kowloon Station (home to the Airport Express / Tung Chung Line,) and the Western Tunnel. More hip Hong Kongers may remember the Drive-In as the location of the Kanye West concert.
Booking a ticket and getting there
My adventure began with a visit to the Hong Kong Drive-In website (now defunct) where I checked out what was playing and learned about the pricing. After booking the ticket by phone I decided to take the Tung Chung Line (part of H.K.’s subway system) to Kowloon Station and then walk a few blocks to Austin Road. If you’re arriving from Tsim Sha Tsui, the Drive-In is just a short taxi ride away. If you’re driving from Hong Kong side, the Western Tunnel is extremely close and speedier than weaving through crosstown traffic via the Cross Harbour Tunnel.
Arriving at the entrance to the Drive-In you are greeted by two large displays with basic information. Pull into the driveway (lit up like a runway in blue lights,) and you will be guided to either house A or B.
No car? No Problem!
At each of the two screens the Hong Kong Drive-in has three “classic” American cars permanently parked so that even pedestrians can enjoy the show in a novel setting. The car I was in was fitted with a plush upholstered interior. It was comfortable and fun sitting in the bulky 1980’s American car. Recommendation: perhaps sitting two or three people per car is sufficient. I didn’t try the back seat, but the view from the front was excellent. The screen is huge and the speakers worked well. You can adjust the volume of the sound to your liking via buttons on the back. For smokers that like to puff while catching a flick, the drive-in offers hereto unknown freedom. Further, the cars are not right on top of each other – affording you a degree of privacy.
Hungry? Want a snack?
When you arrive at the drive-in they hand you a menu. Currently they offer standard cinema fare: popcorn, hotdogs etc., in addition to local favorites. Best of all – you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your car. Simply call the number on the menu with your mobile phone and they will deliver your choices to you! Could it get any better? Yes! A bbq restaurant is advertised as being on the way. It’s well thought out and extremely convenient. An additional bonus – during my visit, the staff were friendly and helpful.
I would conclude by going so far as to say that the Hong Kong Drive-In raises the quality of life here in H.K. Will I be back? Can’t wait!
(photos below taken from inside the car – not at normal viewing angle. Can you spot the steering wheel in the way?)