8 Drive-In Movie tips for families – Backlot Rooftop, Docklands Melbourne

The Urban Ma at Docklands drive ins Backlot Rooftop open air cinema

The Backlot Rooftop Drive-in
Harbour Town, Docklands

Once upon a rooftop four kids and their families watched the stunning sun set behind a giant ferris wheel. It was like the sun and the stars tagged team to transform the romantic lingering hues of the dusk sky to a glamorous glittering city skyline.

What: An open air cinema with a difference – a rooftop drive-in with 360 degree views of beautiful Melbourne city. Perfect for date nights and movie nights with the fam bam!
When: every night (check the Backlot Rooftop website for times)
Where: 90 Waterfront Way, Docklands (the multi-level carpark in Harbour Town)

On Boxing Day, we headed outside and upwards away from the hoards of people frantically stealing car spaces and shopping the Boxing Day sales to watch a movie. Not any old movie. We wanted to be outdoors. We wanted to try something new. We wanted do something that the whole family would love. The newly opened Backlot Rooftop Drive-in ticked everything off our list and more.

Entry is per car and prices vary depending on what day you go so check the website for the latest show times and information. I borrowed my grandad’s 7-seater and brought my parents along with me, while my brother and his family had their car and we parked next to each other. For those that might be in the city or are Uber-ing it in, there’s also a deck area with chairs set up if you don’t have a car to bring but still want to enjoy the rooftop drive in experience.

Melbourne bucketlist drive-ins Backlot rooftop drive in Docklands

With a huge movie screen set up on the top floor of a multi-level carpark, the Backlot Rooftop Drive-in makes such perfect use of a space with a view that I wonder why no one’s every thought of it before ! I haven’t been to the drive-ins since I was twelve and that wasn’t even in Melbourne. It was on a family holiday to the Gold Coast. I remember watching a double feature – Speed with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and The Good Son with Macualay Culkin and Elijah Wood – and we were crammed in a little car watching through the foggy windows.

This time around, we backed up our cars and watched the upbeat musical comedy, Trolls from the comfort of the boot. It was such a fun night out and the ultimate way to relax after the excitement of Christmas that I think we’ve found a new Boxing night tradition! We had such a great time that I’m already checking out the showtimes to see what else we can watch.

8 Drive-in movie tips for families

1. Get comfy! – Park the car backwards and set up the boots space into your own little mini gold class cinema experience. Bring along some blankets, pillows, soft toys for the kids, fold out chairs, whatever makes you feel most comfy when watching a movie

2. Arrive early – We came half an hour early to our 8:30pm session and were actually a little too early! Being drive-in newbies I didn’t take into account that the sun was still up at this time and so the movie didn’t actually start until around 9.15pm. So we were waiting for a while. But it’s still a good idea to arrive early to give you time to; find a spot (we were directed by helpful parking attendants), park the car and get set up without having to rush. Check out the little food stall with snacks and refreshments and familiarise yourself with where the toilets are in case the little ones need to go in a hurry.

3. Enjoy the view – With 360 degree views of Melbourne and Docklands, watching a movie is almost a backdrop to Melbourne’s gorgeous buildings and the mesmerising lights of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. While waiting for your movie to start, sit back and take it all in. Nothing prettier than spending a night under the stars

4. Bring snacks – Unlike the traditional movies, you can bring any snacks you like into a drive-in and even if we’ve just eaten a meal at home, by the time we get out of the house, everyone in my family, including me, always seems to get hungry again! It’s either that or we just want to buy food to taste! There’s a little food stall that sells popcorn, coffee, drinks etc however we hadn’t had dinner yet so we picked up three large pizzas on the way to the drive-ins and these were a hit! No fuss, easy, and always delicious. You can’t go wrong with pepperoni, Aussie with mushrooms and BBQ chicken pizzas. Pack some fruit and dips for a healthier option or if it’s a romantic date night, set up a pretty little antipasto platter with some wine. I read on their website that they’ll have foodtrucks on some nights too so that would be another cool option.

5. Bring cash – just in case you want to buy something and on the odd occassion that the EFTPOS isn’t working.

6. Bring a flashlight…or glow bracelets – In case you need to go to the loo in the middle of the movie or make your way to get a popcorn or coffee, bring a flashlight to help light the way. Glow sticks or bracelets would add to the fun!

7. Did I mention get comfy? -Bring a jacket and beanie in case it’s a cool night or even just wear your pyjamas! I think we’ll totally do that next time – have a pyjama themed family movie night. The kids would love it! Bringing along some insect repellent might also come in handy!

8. Relax and have fun! – One of the reasons why we haven’t been to a movie in a while is because we’ve got an active four year old and a curious one year old. Being at a drive-in gives you space if the kids need to stretch their legs and explore a little without having to feel bad that you’re getting up out of your seat and blocking the screen.

Pizza time! 
Melbourne foodtrucks backlot rooftop drive in Docklands kid friendlyAll the staff were so friendly, it was like everyone was on an opening night high.

A new generation of Melbournians experiencing the magic of the drive-ins

Melbourne city skyline best view Drive in movies Docklands
Seriously, can Melbourne get any prettier? The purple pink haze was just beautiful

signage Melbourne to do kid friendly family drive ins Backlot rooftop Docklands The Urban MA
Clear signage is everywhere as soon as you enter the carpark so it’s really easy to find. The car park fee is included in the entry price.Backlot rooftop drive in movies MelbourneWe watched Trolls and the other big screen was showing Red Dog. In between the two screens was the food truck.
Backlot Rofftop Melbourne drive-ins Docklands
Even my parents got in on the drive-in experience all snuggled up under a blanket!

Have you got any more drive-in tips for us? It was our first time going to a drive-in in Melbourne, the first of many. We’re totally coming back for more.