‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ Wasn’t Filmed in Chicago or in the Winter
It’s that time of year again when many families carry on the tradition of watching and streaming some beloved Christmas classics. One holiday movie that makes watchlists in homes year after year is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Even if you’re pretty familiar with the 1989 comedy, there are a few facts about the movie you might not have known including that it wasn’t filmed anywhere near Chicago and it wasn’t shot during the winter either. Here’s more on that as well as some other interesting facts about Christmas Vacation.
‘Christmas Vacation’ was not shot in Chicago
Unlike in the two previous Vacation movies, the Griswold family decides not to travel in this film. Instead, they spend Christmas at their home in Chicago. While the flick — like many John Hughes’ movies — is set in the Midwestern city, it wasn’t filmed anywhere near the Windy City.
It may not come as a surprise that parts of it were shot in California but you may not be aware that some was filmed in Colorado as well. The majority of those snowy “Chicago” scenes were shot in the Colorado towns of Silverthorne, Breckenridge, and Frisco.
According to the GoBreck’s blog, the sledding scene was done at the Breckenridge Ski Resort vehicle maintenance area on Peak 8. By filming at night, the production didn’t interfere with any of the ski area operations during the day. And the Toys For Tots bin where Clark ends up after sledding in the saucer down the hill is the front of a Wal-Mart in Frisco. The same Wal-Mart Clark and Cousin Eddie went shopping at.
It wasn’t filmed in the winter either
The movie also takes place during Christmas of course but it wasn’t really shot during the festive season. That’s right filming the beloved holiday classic wasn’t done in the winter, it actually went down in the spring and summer. IMDb noted that the filming took place between March 27, 1989, and June 30, 1989.
GoBreck’s blog noted that Breckenridge locals were hired to work on the shoot which gave the town a major economic boost just before the ski area closed for the season.
Some other little known facts about ‘Christmas Vacation’
When shooting in California there is a potential threat for earthquakes, and it just happened that a minor one did occur during filming. Eagle-eyed fans pointed out that there is some slight camera shaking when Uncle Lewis and Aunt Bethany arrive at the Griswold home. The scene was left in the movie so see if you can spot the camera movement the next time you watch it.
In 2014, the cast sat down with Rolling Stone and shared some more behind-the-scenes secrets.
Johnny Galecki, who played Rusty, admitted during the interview that he had a crush on his co-star Juliette Lewis, who played his sister Aubrey.
“Juliette was older than me by a year but she might as well been on another planet,” he said. “I worshipped her. She was rock and roll even at 15 years old. She had different stories about what she had done the night before and with whom. At that time I was, and still am, in awe of her.”
As for others on the set, the film’s director, Jeremiah Chechik, said that he and Chevy Chase got along well but he “really fought like hell” with Beverly D’Angelo.
Their relationship did change for the better though. “When we did the DVD commentary several years ago, we had the greatest time together ever,” Chechik recalled.