DIY Outdoor Movie Theater Tutorial

It's summer time! The stars are beautiful, the breezes still cool, and the kids anxious to get outside! With our 3-bedroom, 1300 square foot home feeling more cramped than normal for our family of eight, we were given the opportunity to put together a DIY outdoor movie theater for the kids with help from Disney!

As part of the Disney Under the Stars campaign, we will be sharing some pretty cool new summer movie releases and fun ideas for celebrating more family moments. Today, I'm going to show you how we experienced Bambi the Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray (out tomorrow) with the kids on the big screen on the homestead at our Nebraska farm.

First, we created our outdoor theater. We used the following materials to make our screen:

While we were tempted to use sheets, blackout curtains are perfect for this. They reflect light on the white side and prevent it from bleeding through. Your neighbors will not get light shining over into their yard with this set up!

The concept of this screen is to wrap each end around your PVC pipe "frame." Your curtain will sit horizontally, so you'll be working with the short ends of your fabric to affix Velcro that will wrap around the ends of your frame (like a scroll.)

Start by cutting the Velcro into strips. I was able to get 8 strips of both sides of the Velcro in my pack.

Now, you'll need to put a piece of the PVC inside the edge of the fabric (remember these are the short ends of the curtain) to see how far the ends of the fabric will wrap around snugly. This is where you'll put your Velcro strips. I have a picture below of where it came on my fabric:

Mark these areas. Put a little Gorilla glue on each spot, then the Velcro. Make sure you wait at least 15 minutes before moving the fabric while the glue sets. (It took almost 30 here. It is very humid and hot!)

After the one side has dried. Wait to do the second side. You can start assembling your frame in the meantime.

You'll need the following 3/4" PVC piping pieces for the frame:

  • (1) 6-foot length
  • (2) 5 feet lengths
  • (4) 3 feet lengths
You'll also need:
  • (2) 3/4" PVC Sch. 40 90° Elbow (for the top)
  • (2) 1/2" x 3/4" PVC SCH 40 Male x Socket Adapter
  • (2) 3/4"x3/4"x1/2" Side Outlet Elbow PVC Schedule 40


Tap two 90° Elbows onto the ends of the 6-foot top (piece A). This creates the top.

Each elbow will also meet up with each of the 5-foot pieces (pieces B).

At the bottom of each 5-foot side, attach the following in this order:

1/2" x 3/4" PVC SCH 40 Male x Socket Adapter


3/4"x3/4"x1/2" Side Outlet Elbow PVC Schedule 40

Then, put one of each of the 3 feet lengths out from the two openings in this last piece. You will use two of the 3 feet lengths on each side to create legs.

When set up, the screen frame should look like this:

And here is where the sides fit into the base.

Another shot of the bottom.

Now, you can attach the finished, Velcro side of your screen to one side of your frame by wrapping the edge around the piping and securing. Stretch the fabric across to see exactly where the Velcro needs to go on the other side. I would say to measure everything and the both Velcro sides at once, but mistakes happen. We had to move our Velcro after a mismeasurement. This is the best way.

Repeat the Velcro attachment on the other "short" side of your curtain. Wait until it is fully dried before attaching to the frame.

(Note: If you measure right, the screen sets very flat. Unfortunately, the day we built this had winds of 30 MPH or more. The frame handled it well, but it did cause rippling in the material -- like a ship's sail. Be sure that you are not setting up your frame in high winds. Ours always dies down in the evenings, but if I waited until then, it would be too dark to take pictures to show you what we did.)

This screen is very easy to set up. Just make sure you position your screen so that it is not against the wind. While the base does well to stand up sturdily, wind is just a hard thing to contend with (especially out on the farm.)

Our kids LOVED their movie theater screen! We watched Bambi and they were so delighted!

Stay tuned tomorrow for coverage of the Anniversary Edition of Bambi, clips, activities, and goodies from the movie! You can pre-order it NOW or buy the digital copy today here.

*Movie and theater supplies provided by Disney. Opinions are my own.

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