It’s hard to call a place a secret when there’s a long line of cars trying to get into it on the nicest nights, but I run into people all the time who’ve never heard of the Coyote Drive-In.
It isn’t a historic old Texas drive-in theater that’s still struggling along. It’s a new addition to the Fort Worth entertainment scene built along the Trinity River north of downtown and next to LaGrave Field. And its one of the most unique things to do in Fort Worth.
While it gets plenty of moviegoers on many nights, lots of Fort Worth residents never pass along the stretch of North Main St. from downtown to the Fort Worth Stockyards, so this entertainment venue remains out of mind.
About Coyote Drive-In
The Coyote Drive-In is the result of two things: a small company looking for a place for its new venture and the desire of the agencies redeveloping the river in Fort Worth for an amenity to draw people to the area.
In 2011, the Coyote Drive-In was founded as a collaboration between Coyote Theatres, master planners Trinity River Vision Authority, landlord Tarrant Regional Water District, the City of Fort Worth and others. It took more than two years of planning, design and construction to bring the project together, but it has been successful from the start, seeing sellout crowds on some nights.
Located in an area of town that developers want to become known as Panther Island (although it isn’t an island at the moment), the Coyote Drive-In provides views of the downtown skyline that you can’t get anywhere else in town.
The original plan was for the drive-in to hold a 10-year lease on the land and serve as a placeholder for future development on that site and around it. I suspect, however, that the speed and success of the river redevelopment program will determine the ultimate fate of this open-air movie theater.
My Experiences With This Fort Worth Drive-In
I admit it: I’ve never seen a movie at the Coyote Drive-In. The late start times during much of the year — after 8:30 p.m. in the summer since movies can’t start until dark — simply don’t appeal to me. For a long time, you could enter without a ticket to have dinner and enjoy the music, but the walk-in parking was eliminated and this opportunity ended when a fourth screen was added. It’s a fun atmosphere though, and you might enjoy paying the reasonable admission price even if you can’t stay for the whole doubleheader.
Before walk-in parking was eliminated, I visited a number of time to see live music, and I’ve eaten a pizza or two there. On Friday and Saturday nights during the spring and summer, there’s often a solo act on a makeshift stage in the generously sized covered snack bar area, called the Coyote Canteen. A schedule of these acts isn’t published, so you have to depend on your favorite musicians to tell you on Facebook or through their mailing lists when they will be there.
If you like solo acts, overpriced-but-decent food and a fun, family-friendly atmosphere, you owe it to yourself to give the Coyote Drive-In a try — even if you have no plans to actually stay until the night becomes morning and the movie doubleheader ends.
Good To Know
- A large playground area is available to keep children entertained, and the large Canteen area provides enough seating, eating and drinking options to pass the time before the often-late movie start times.
- Outside food and drinks are prohibited because the drive-in says it makes most of its profit from concession sales. Pizza, burgers, hot dogs and more traditional movie fare like popcorn and candy are available for purchase at the Canteen.
- Movie start times vary by season based on when it gets dark, so pay attention to announced schedules.
- A seating area is available in front of the car parking area for those who want to watch the movie from right down front. Speakers are provided in this area.
- For those watching from their cars, sound for the movie is available via FM radio. Use your car’s radio or bring a separate one to avoid running down your battery.
- The ticket price is for a doubleheader, so you always see two movies for the price of one.