Pack up the family truckster and head out for some family fun with the Griswolds! Here are a few facts we learned about their European Vacation.
1. It’s Solely a Griswold Family Affair
European Vacation is the only movie in the Vacation series that doesn’t feature Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie character and his family.
2. Walley World Makes an Appearance
The t-shirt and sweatshirt that Clark wears throughout the movie are from Walley World, the fictional, Disney-like amusement park the family drives to in the original Vacation movie.
3. Rusty Was Almost the Same Actor as the First Movie
In the Vacation series, the Griswold children famously change actors with each movie—but Anthony Michael Hall, who played Rusty in the original Vacation, was set to reprise his role in European Vacation. Before shooting started, however, Hall dropped out to star in the movie Weird Science (he was replaced by Jason Lively). Weird Science happens to be written and directed by John Hughes, who wrote the original short story that inspired the series and the screenplays for Vacation, European Vacation, and Christmas Vacation.
4. A Member of Monty Python Kept Popping Up
The bike rider whom Clark hits with his car in London, and who pops up again in Rome, is none other than Eric Idle, a founding member of the great Monty Python comedy troupe. His line about his injuries only being a “flesh wound” is a nod to the famous Black Knight scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
5. Eric Idle and Chevy Chase Came Up with an Idea for the Third Vacation Movie… and Then Scrapped It
Following European Vacation, the two created initial drafts of a third Vacation movie called Australian Vacation, but the movie was scrapped as they moved on to other projects. Chase also allegedly wrote a script for a new movie called Swiss Family Griwold about the family going on a cruise.
6. Griswold or Griswald?
European Vacation is the movie in which Griswold is spelled “Griswald.”
7. We Finally Find Out What the “W” Is in Clark W. Griswold
A passport seen in the opening credits reveals the W stands for “Wilhelm.”
8. Chevy Chase Brought a Lot of His Own Stuff with Him
Chase provided most of his own wardrobe, including Clark’s camcorder.
9. Clark’s Hat Was Inspired by a Classic Character
Clark’s bucket hat was meant to resemble a similar hat worn by M. Hulot, the legendary comedic character played by actor/director Jacques Tati. Chase has said that the master of physical comedy was one of his influences for his performance as Clark Griswold.
10. Mr. Froeger Is a Cult Icon
The head of the brainy family that challenges the Griswold’s on the Pig in a Poke game show is played by Paul Bartel, the writer, actor, and director behind such cult films as Eating Raoul and Death Race 2000. He also appeared in more than 90 films, including Tim Burton’s 1984 film, Frankenweenie, the Ramones movie Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, John Carpenter’s Escape from LA, and Caddyshack II.
And you probably recognize Pig in a Poke’s touchy-feely host, too: Kent was played by John Astin, the original Gomez Addams in the Addams Family TV show.
11. The Hills Were Alive with the Sound of Griswold
The dream sequence where Clark sings his spoof of The Sound of Music were shot at the same alpine locations as Julie Andrews did in the 1959 musical.
12. Stonehenge Was Fake
The production wasn’t allowed to shoot at the real Stonehenge, so they created a two-thirds scale model of the original nearby in order to shoot the scene where the Griswolds knock the stones over. Each slab was outfitted with a timed hydraulic mechanism to create the practical effect of them tipping over.
13. Chevy Chase Is Sparky
Sparky, Ellen’s pet name for Clark, was Chase’s nickname in real life.
14. Germany Was Actually Italy
A German-speaking Italian town was used to shoot the Germany-set scenes.
15. Rusty’s California Girl Is Rock Royalty
The American girl that Rusty meets in Rome is played by Moon Unit Zappa, daughter of legendary rock musician Frank Zappa. Aubrey’s boyfriend Jack, meanwhile, was played by William Zabka, better known as Johnny the antagonist at the Cobra Kai dojo in The Karate Kid.