Auburn’s abandoned Valley Drive-In is a spooky ‘graveyard’

May 12, 2016, 3:01 PM | Updated: Sep 7, 2022, 3:44 pm

Auburn drive-in movie theater...

The old Valley Drive-in in Auburn sits empty in 2016. (Feliks Banel)

(Feliks Banel)

Speaker poles in disarray at the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn.  It closed in 2012.  (Feliks Banel) Old speaker poles with concrete footings litter the site of the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn.  The Valley open in 1966 and closed in 2012. (Feliks Banel) Old speaker poles with concrete footings litter the site of the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn.  The Valley open in 1966 and closed in 2012.  (Feliks Banel) auburn theater All that’s left of the concession stand at the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn is this concrete pad.  The Valley Drive-In closed in 2012.  (Feliks Banel) The Valley Drive-In in Auburn had four ticket booths.  The drive-in began with one screen in February 1966 and eventually expanded to a total of six screens before closing in 2012. (Feliks Banel) A tipped-over speaker pole at the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn.  It closed in 2012. (Feliks Banel) Two speaker pole concrete footings look like headstones at the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn. (Feliks Banel)

After writing about the Duwamish Drive-In earlier this week and talking about it on Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio, several social media commenters mentioned fond memories of the old Valley Drive-In in Auburn.

These comments inspired a visit to the Valley, or what remains of it, on Thursday morning. As the photo gallery shows, where a fully-operational entertainment complex once stood is now a spooky abandoned drive-in, along with the remains of its ticket booths, concession stands and sound system. It feels, and looks, more like a graveyard than a place for cinematic recreation.

Related: Duwamish Drive-in was not really about the movies

The Valley was located off of South 277th just east of Auburn Way. The drive-in closed after the 2012 season, and then the screens and sign were demolished sometime in the past few years. It had opened with a single screen in February 1966, and grew to three screens and then six screens in its heyday.

There may be a tangible link between the Duwamish and the Valley. According to a commenter at a theater history website, “some of the [Duwamish Drive-In] speaker poles survive today, as they were moved to the Valley Drive-In [after the Duwamish Drive-In closed].”

It’s clear that there are indeed two different varieties of speaker poles at the old site of the Valley; one more rectilinear in design, one more curvilinear in design (it’s unclear which variety may have come from the Duwamish).

When it was still in business, the Valley held the distinction of being the only surviving drive-in operating in King County, where as many as seven drive-in theaters had once thrived.

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Auburn’s abandoned Valley Drive-In is a spooky ‘graveyard’