Movies at Marymoor has been a popular recreational activity for many Sammamish residents. It has been hosted by Epic Events for the past 11 years, but due to COVID-19, fans of the event were unsure if this tradition would continue this year.
However, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks announced on June 25 that outdoor movies would indeed be offered for the 2020 season—in the form of drive-in movies.
In the past, family and friends gathered picnic items and went to the park, where they lounged on the grassy field amongst other moviegoers.
“We pivoted to drive-ins this year because of the virus and so we could continue the series in a safe atmosphere,” Doug Borneman, president and producer at Epic Events, said.
Converting to a drive-in movie permits safe social distancing required in the current phase 2 reopening in King County. In fact, many temporary drive-in movies have been popping up around the greater Seattle area, providing people a way to experience movies like they used to, while introducing this novel format to the younger generation.
Of course, several COVID-19 related modifications had to be made. The event attendees are asked to stay in their vehicle unless they need to use the restroom or visit a food vendor. Those who do leave their car are required to wear a face mask and still respect social distancing guidelines. Food vendors on site must follow all state guidelines and use proper COVID-19 protocol when serving moviegoers.
Opening night at Marymoor was July 8, where the movie Back to the Future 2 played. Wendy Egnatios, a Sammamish resident of 13 years, decided to take her two middle-schoolers to the drive-in.
“We had a great time,” Egnatios said. “It was fun to re-live the drive-in experience, and to introduce it to our kids.”
She explained that although there were lots of people at the movie, most respected the social distancing guidelines and wore masks if they were not in their vehicle. In addition, workers handed out small bottles of hand sanitizer as people entered.
Even though the movie was sold out, there were no line-ups at any of the food vendors, allowing people to safely get their snacks for the movie. It showed Epic Events limited capacity to a manageable level for safety.
“I felt it was very well organized, both entering and exiting the park—there were plenty of people guiding cars to their parking spots,” Egnatios said.
She said her family would definitely go see another movie, as long as they are not sold out. She also offered some advice for prospective moviegoers.
“We were in our SUV, so we had to park near the back,” she said. “It was a bit far, hard to see the screen…Perhaps next time we’ll take our smaller car so that we can park closer.”
Some customers did sit on the roof of their cars for a better view.
Egnatios also suggests that families with younger children could have them come in pajamas, and bring a blanket or pillow in case they fall asleep.
Most of Marymoor’s movies start between 8 and 9 p.m. and run as late as 11:30 p.m. The movie audio gets broadcasted on an FM signal, so attendees can listen in the car or on a portable radio. There is no app for the audio.
Movies at Marymoor will continue through August 27. All movies in July are currently sold out, but tickets for August are now on sale. Tickets cost $25 per carload and can be purchased on the Movies at Marymoor website.
“It has been a tough spring for a lot of people and the world in general,” said Borneman of Epic Events, “We are happy we can provide something safe and fun for people to do.”