Dubai: After 63 days in isolation (a hospital visit doesn’t count), it was with a spring in my step that I hopped into my car to make way for an entertainment outing.
The new Vox Drive-In cinema at Mall of the Emirates was ready to open its doors and some of us were the chosen few to try out its swanky, not-so-new, parking facilities atop the third level of the centre.
Ahead of our drive, we were armed with a battery of instructions:
- Enter only through Shaikh Zayed Road
- Iftar will be provided
- Maintain social distancing at all times
We admit, the last one had us reassured that precautions will be in place to ensure our safety, along with those around us.
How it works
As we drove up the ramp, resembling eager beavers, a red carpet had been rolled out (only in Dubai) to welcome the cars driving up to the first checkpoint: the bar code scanner station. The bar code serves as a ticket for your car, with a sticker added to your windshield to assign your designated ‘seat’ in the parking lot.
Excited staff appeared on the passenger side as well, holding up bags of F&B goodies that come with the ticket price: three kinds of gourmet popcorn (we wondered later if we could just request salt in the future), soft drinks, water and a bag of M&Ms.
Five minutes later and following plenty of unnecessary instructions by the staff, the car was parked and we waited until the rest of the audience arrived for the show.
Price: Dh180 per car including food and drinks for two
Children aged 3 to 12 and adults over 60 not permitted
Movie show times will be revealed every Monday
Hearing the audio: Rather than blaring speakers, it was rather enjoyable to tune into a radio station to hear the movie. Staff were on hand at all times, popping around to check — from a safe distance — whether we could hear the movie OK and if there were additional F&B requirements.
Switching off headlights: Instructions were also provided to turn off the headlights, so as to not ruin the movie experience, with drivers instructed to turn on their hazards should they require something in the middle of the screening. The latter was probably due to the social restrictions in place.
The best part
What we absolutely loved about this movie experience was the lack of disturbance. There were no chattering, kids crying or people constantly on their cell phones. This privacy actually made the movie experience enjoyable again. Plus, the added bonus was the ability to kick off your shoes and curl up in your seat to watch the show.
What doesn't work
You can't choose your F&B: It would have been nice if the Dh180 would allow the audience to actually choose their F&B options in the future. Perhaps this is something that is already in the works — fingers crossed.
Load on the a/c: There's been a lot of online chatter ever since the first lot experienced the drive-in concept. Vox Cinemas informed everyone to keep the a/c on recirculation to avoid load on the car's engine. We did just that and frankly, switched the engine off at one point and enjoyed the evening breeze.
Small disturbances: People are humans after all and they can be annoying despite the clear instructions provided by staff. Headlights remained on for several vehicles, while those attempting to leave the movie midway stalled in front of parked cars, causing plenty of distractions.
I was a child when my family would make the weekly drive to Rex Drive-in Cinema for our family outings. We, like many other old-timers, were gutted when the cinema closed down after years of neglect. With the ever-changing landscape of entertainment in the UAE and the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, the drive-in concept rolls in with a welcome mat. Bring on more of these, we say.
Vox Cinemas Drive-In launches on Sunday May 17