'We're from Out of Town:' 11 Things You Didn't Know About National Lampoon's 'Vacation'

Just in case you ever wanted to know what the "W" in "Clark W. Griswold" stood for

Photo: Moviestore/Rex

The Ed Helms-helmed (been waiting years for that one) Vacation hits theaters this week, so what better occasion could we use to dig up all the fun trivia bits you never knew about everyone’s favorite tale of family vacation gone wrong?

There’s a reason the film’s poster looks familiar.

source: imgur.com

Boris Vallejo’s hyper-realistic oil rendering of a musclebound Chevy Chase is a great parody of similar posters then seen plastered across theaters, advertising the likes of Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. Vallejo’s work looks familiar for one other reason, though: He also painted the iconic poster for the 1977 reissue of Barbarella.

There were five versions of the film’s iconic car …

The Wagon Queen Family Truckster – with its eight headlights and extensive wood paneling – was itself a parody of automotive trends prevalent in the U.S. at the time. Production used five different 1979 Ford LTD Country Squires to portray the different levels of wear and tear the car went through during filming.

… Make that six.

Steve Griswold (yes, that’s his actual name) and his family lovingly restored and modified a 1984 Country Squire into a picture-perfect replica of the car from the film.

Harold Ramis had some regrets over the film’s content.

In particular, Ramis had the film’s scene in St. Louis in mind, which he referred to in the DVD commentary as “the most politically incorrect sequence I’ve ever shot,” adding that it “dehumanizes everyone involved.”

The film marks the first time John Hughes and Anthony Michael Hall worked together.

Vacation was based on a short story Hughes wrote for National Lampoon in 1979, called “Vacation ’58.” He and Hall would go on to make Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science together.

It was Christie Brinkley’s first film, and a great trip for her.

Though Brinkley’s role in the film only required her to be around for a fraction of the film’s shoot, she traveled with the crew throughout the four-state, 15-location shoot, using her off time to go whitewater rafting and horseback riding.

Six Flags stands in for Walley World.

Though the far-off views of Walley World were created with matte paintings, the roller coaster scene was shot at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. Repeated takes caused most of the actors to show genuine nausea and terror: Dana Barron says she took motion sickness pills and passed out on the park’s benches between takes.

Rusty and Clark’s race was grueling.

It’s appropriate that the race was set to the score from Chariots of Fire. Ramis claimed that the temperature in California that day was 105 degrees, and the pavement at the Santa Anita Racetrack (where they filmed the parking lot scene) was a scorching 130 degrees.

Hall is two different heights throughout the film.

Watch at the beginning of the film: Hall is roughly the same height as Beverly D’Angelo. Towards the end, he’s noticeably taller. The film’s ending was re-shot four months later – the original didn’t do well with test audiences – and Hall went through puberty in the interim, growing three inches.

‘Holiday Road’ is by Lindsey Buckingham and only Lindsey Buckingham.

Buckingham’s jaunty single wasn’t produced with any of his Fleetwood Mac cohorts. He plays all the guitars, keyboards and drum machines on the song, and he also performed all the backing vocals.

Clark Griswold’s middle name is
“Wilhelm.” Though it’s actually not revealed in the first film – it appears on his passport during the closing credits of European Vacation.

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