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Continued: Metro's last outdoor theater beats the odds with digital conversion

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 7, 2013 - 2:00 PM

“That’s always been a critical issue at a drive-in theater — getting a sharp picture on the screen,” O’Neil said. “Digital has made life a lot easier, but you really miss being in a projection booth and hearing the film running.”

Customers at the Vali-Hi come from all over the metro and greater Minnesota, often filling the theater to capacity. On recent nights, O’Neil said, he has met people from Faribault, Mankato and Sauk Rapids.

Three movies play each night for a total price of $8.50. It’s $1 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for kids 5 and younger.

“I never dreamed I would have the last drive-in in the Twin Cities,” O’Neil said.

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037

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  • The Vali-Hi Drive-In in Lake Elmo is the last of its kind in the metro area. It went through a digital conversion that could put half of the nation’s outdoor theaters out of business. On a recent evening, owner Bob O’Neil loaded a movie into a computer that is part of the new digital projector he began using in 2012.

  • Among the movie fans marking the end of summer at the Vali-Hi Drive-In were Lauren Mattmiller and Claire Williams, both of Hastings.

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