New Griswold Vacation Movie Car 2015

Steve, Lisa, Amber and Brooke Griswold – The Griswold Vacation 2015 car is the “Prancer”


Vacation Movie Behind the Scenes

This behind the scenes look at the Vacation movie has some spoilers, so be sure to see the Vacation movie in theaters before reading about our wonderful time on set.

It’s been 33 years since the original National Lampoons Vacation movie and still people comment when they hear our last name is “Griswold”. Our last name is Griswold, yes, Griswold, and just about a year and a half ago we decided to build that Wagon Queen Family Truckster. If you don’t remember, that is the green station wagon in the first Vacation Movie with Chevy Chase.

Griswold Vacation Grand Canyon

The Real Griswolds at the El-Tovar / Grand Canyon

We just returned from our ten day route 66 road trip across America from Six Flags over GA to Six Flags Magic Mountain (Walley World in the Vacation movie) when we heard that a new Vacation movie (Reboot) was in the works. It was a real surprise when we got a tweet from someone who had followed our real Griswold Road Trip on Instagram and Twitter that wanted to talk with us about renting our Griswold Family Truckster. Come to find out the gentleman was the Art Director for the new Vacation movie. Even more amazing the film was going to be shot mostly in Atlanta GA, just minutes from our house.

We received an email from the transportation director from the Vacation film asking us if we could come to lunch to meet the producers and directors of the film and bring the Truckster so they could take a look. Lunch with the producers and directors, no way!


Ed Helm’s “Rusty” trailer on the Vacation Movie set

We drove the truckster down too a temporary studio in Atlanta and meet up with Rob Foster, the transportation director for the Vacation movie and Rob was awesome. He took us around the set and we got to see the new Truckster for the Vacation Reboot. It’s called the Prancer and it’s awesomely awful. The mini van is a bright blue with a front end on the back and front of the van, suicide doors have also been added and the van interior has been tricked out with a bubble collage of gauges on the dash and a brushed metal control panel with countless selections between the two front seats.

There are five Pancers in all and they have each been custom made from 1991 Toyota Privia Vans. Each Prancer has been modified and the one on stage the day we visited the studio was one setup for green screen work inside the studio.

New Griswold Vacation Movie Car 2015

Steve, Lisa, Amber and Brooke Griswold – The Griswold Vacation 2015 car is the “Prancer”

We meet John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (the Directors) as well as Steele Stebbins (Rusty’s son in the movie, Kevin Griswold) who was taking a skateboarding break between takes. I actually sat in the Truckster with Jonathan Goldstein and we watched the original Vacation movie on the Trucksters in dash DVD player.  Of course we watched the scene where Clark goes to pick up his new car at Lou Glutz Motors.   What an amazing day.


Taking a tour of the Vacation Movie sets in Hiram GA

A few days later we are off to Hiram GA. There is a movie studio in Hiram GA and they have two vacation movie sets under construction inside. We have our two daughters in toe, Brooke is almost 5 and Amber is 9 and it’s not every day you get to take your kids to a live movie set. After driving about 45 minutes out into the country all of a sudden there is a large studio on the side of the road. When we walked inside the first stage we see a night time set. A full size two story motel is almost complete for a shot taking place tomorrow. Everything from the grass, trees, old vending machines, a jacuzzi and pool furniture are perfectly placed. In the first Vacation movie the Griswolds stop at a motel so it’s only fitting that Ed Helms and Christina Applegate stop at a motel to spend the night on their road trip. But unlike the motel that Clark goes skinny dipping in, this motel is a hundred times worse. You can see the rust on the fence around the pool. The pool furniture is old stained plastic chairs and broken plastic tables. The brown metal vending machines look like they have not worked in decades and might still have some old TOMS candy in them. When you see the room the Griswold’s check into it’s even worse.

Griswold in the Vacation Movie Hotel Room Bathroom

Amber and Brooke Griswold in the Vacation Movie Hotel bathroom

One room in this set is complete for filming and it is the dirtiest thing you have ever seen. No detail has been left untouched, from the left over used dirty soap pieces on the corner of the brown stained bath tub to the carpet brown toilet seat cover. It’s amazing how much detail went into creating a full size motel for a night screen.  The next day we see the Griswold’s filming on the set and it comes to life with the motel lights on around the pool.
Taking Amber and Brooke to the set was really cool. I am not 100% sure they understood everything and Brooke spent a great deal of time looking for bolts and pieces of wood and other treasures on the ground. It will be amazing to see the different sets in the actual Vacation Movie.

Truckster at Wigwam Motel

Our Griswold Wagon Queen Family Truckster at the real Wigwam Motel #6 in AZ

Next door on the second stage they were building the Wigman Motel set. They just had the wood frame for one Wigwam complete when we were there. Now we did actually drive to the real Wigwam Hotel in AZ and spent the night in a Wigwam for just $65 a night. We drove across America in our Family Truckster and stayed at the locations and stopped at the tourist spots in the original Vacation Movie. You can see our Route 66 10 day road trip across America on our website. We have 5-6 short videos of our adventures too.

Read Part Two:

Read Part Two of our Vacation Movie Behind the scenes Tour.