LONG BEACH — Cars, trucks and vans poured into the gravel lot up until the last preview, then settled in for a two-hour cinematic escape.

The debut of the newly-constructed drive-in at Neptune Theater drew a near-capacity crowd on Friday, Jan. 1 in Long Beach.

Nearly 40 cars — containing about 100 people — attended the 7 p.m. showing of “Wonder Woman 1984,” according to owner Kaarina Stotts.

The much-anticipated opening came after a few weeks of feverish construction in order to prepare the approximately 25,000-square-foot gravel lot, including building the colossal 36-foot by 16-foot movie screen.

“I was just hoping it was going to work. I was actually afraid it would be busy because I didn’t even know if it was going to play,” Stotts said. “It actually went way smoother than expected. Everyone was so happy, patient and understanding, which made things so nice.”

Since opening weekend, Stotts has already started making small tweaks to improve the overall experience, including offering more show times, portable radios for rent, and expanding the current food and snack options.

“We’d like to get our pizza oven going if it’s going to be busy enough to justify opening all the items,” Stotts said. “We still have much to do … hoping to get double showings starting this weekend. Eventually, we also are hoping to have a ticket booth so people don’t have to come inside if they don’t want to.”

The Neptune Theatre drive-in in Long Beach now joins five other still-operating drive-in theaters in Washington, including Bremerton, Colville, Oak Harbor, Port Townsend and Shelton. For more information and current movie show times, visit neptunemoviehouse.com.

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