Fun, cheap or free date night ideas…plus, the best kept movie theater secret in Utah

My husband and I love going to the movies. But…with 3 kids in the picture, a “movie date night” has gone by the wayside. At $10+ per ticket, plus treats, plus dinner beforehand, plus babysitting, it's too expensive for our blood (especially if you're disappointed by the movie!).

We discovered the most AMAZING movie theater on a recent date night. If you aren't from Utah, I'm so sorry, this post will probably make you jealous. The theaters are expanding so maybe someday they'll get to your area. In the meantime, just grab a cookie and don't hate us Utahns too much. BUT…for those outside of Utah, think outside the box! Read my post below (or at least read the very end) and find a similar company to support!

For you Utahn's, check out my next post…spoiler alert…they are giving us the entire theater so we can all have a FREE MOVIE DAY together!

Until then…
Here's how our date-night went:

  • We saved on babysitting by trading with a friend. Woo hoo! We brought Beck with us for the first part, so she could space out having to put our kids down for bed at her house. Plus, he's just adorable so how could we not want to bring him?
  • We ate for cheap. I searched through my coupon binder (which is now a coupon folder…update coming soon!) and found a great deal at a nearby Thai restaurant. We tried it out, and loved it!
Even Beck loved it.
Hooray for cheap Thai food!
  • After dinner we took a walk down memory lane by attending our new city's high school's Homecoming FB game. Go chargers!
Let me tell you…what a super fun (and inexpensive) date-night idea! During the game we reminisced about where we went to high school, telling stories about what our high school experience was like, thinking about our own kids in HS someday (no! never grow up!), and generally enjoying feeling like a teenager again.

Around 9 we were freezing, had been at the game for plenty long enough, and wanted to do something else…but didn't want to pay a lot. We looked online, found a movie we wanted to see, and headed to try out a new theater…that we fell in love with…Water Gardens Theaters.

Here's why I love them:

  • They buy old theaters that have gone out of business, helping the economy in small cities. They are actually having a grand opening at their new location in Holladay, UT on Oct 17, 18, 19. They will have bounce houses, free popcorn, giveaways, etc. Sounds like a ton of fun!
  • Their prices are crazy-good. To see a movie they sell…wait for it…$3.50 tickets. Each. Even if you're an adult. And kids 2 and under are FREE. I know, right?? The movies aren't the brand new ones, but it's the interim just after the new releases leave the mainstream theaters and before they hit the dollar theaters/movie rental joints.
  • Their refreshments. No, you don't need to get your eyes checked…those prices on the screen above are for realizes. All their treats are only $1, $2, or $3…even for the ginormous extra large tubs of popcorn! Bubba and I bought a $2 medium and didn't even get through half of it.
I actually asked the guy, “do you guys even make money from your concessions?” He gave an enthusiastic nod. He explained, “We did market research. 90% of the people that use mainstream theaters don't by concessions, and most of them sneak in their own” (what? why are you looking at me? I would neeeeeeeever do that….he'em…caugh…). By keeping the pricing low, almost 100% of the people who come in buy at least one item. It keeps people me honest, and I'm happy to support them all day long with such affordable treats!
  • They act like a fancy theater. You can buy your tickets online, and can even reserve your seats in advance so you're not stuck with the “bad” seats.
  • You can do it all from your cell phone. When you visit their site on your cell phone they show you how to install a bookmark to your home screen. It makes finding their movie times and reserving seats a breeze.
  • And most importantly in my book, they are wholesome and family-friendly. They don't show R-Rated movies or horror films, they are closed on Sundays (the best family day around), kids are welcome (and encouraged), and they even have booster seats you can borrow so your kids can see the screens better. They also have $1 summer kid movies:
We were so blown away by it all that we took our kids back the next day to watch Turbo, a movie we had been wanting to see for a long time but didn't want to pay $40 (literally!) to take our family. For the first time EVER we actually let them pick out a treat to buy. At a buck, how could we not? And look how excited they were?

We had a great time.
I can't tell you enough how important for me it is to support businesses like this. They are offering the SAME PRODUCT to consumers, but for an HONEST, REASONABLE price! They are like the Southwest.com's of movie theaters; offer a steady, reasonable rate. They might not make as much straight out of the gate, but in time, they will be the only ones that can sustain consistent business.
Frugal always wins, folks.
Moral of the story? They encompass everything I'm about: having it all, but doing it wise and well. Good on ya, Water Gardens!
SO…
The end of my shpeel? I obviously love these guys so much I've been in touch with one of their head honchos. The good news???
They are giving us the entire theater for FREE to have a family movie day!! 
AHH! See my next post for all the details. Can't wait!

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