Final Feature: Santee Drive-In closing after 65 years in business

The beloved outdoor movie attraction said loss of customers and competition from streaming services have made it tough to stay in business.


The Santee Drive-In has been around since 1958.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

After 65 years in business, the Santee Drive-In is revving up for its last hurrah, officially shuttering on Sunday, Dec. 31.

“Sadly, due to the loss of customers, higher costs of business, and competition with streaming services, we can no longer afford to stay open,” reads the drive-in’s website.

The East County attraction’s final stretch includes nightly double features across its two theaters, starting at 6:30 p.m.

SD Santee Drive-In 2023

The East County attraction’s final day in business is Dec. 31, 2023.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

On the schedule: “Wonka,” “The Grinch,” “Trolls Band Together,” and “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” today through Thursday, Dec. 21. “Migration” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” will join the rotation Friday, Dec. 22 through closing night.

News of the Santee Drive-In’s impending closure surfaced in September. A potential industrial development is eyeing the location, but the Santee Swap Meet — which operates on the site every weekend — will stay put through June 30, 2024.

If you’re looking for other outdoor theaters in SD, we’ve rounded up some ideas.

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