Santa Clarita is the Destination for “Vacation Films”

by | May 23, 2017 | SCV Reel Talk

Summertime means vacation time and many of us have been meticulously planning for months for that perfect annual getaway, not unlike the character Clark W. Griswold in the famed Vacation film series. In fact, the fictional Griswold family actually visited Santa Clarita in the very first National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983, when Six Flags Magic Mountain doubled as Walley World, “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park.” Chevy Chase’s character, Clark, took some desperate measures to ensure his family was not denied rides on Revolution, now known as the New Revolution, and the “Screaming Mimi,” which was actually the wooden roller coaster Colossus, now Twisted Colossus. Actual Six Flags employees were used in parts of the ride scenes.
But the Griswolds weren’t the only film family to find their way to Santa Clarita.
Nate Johnson (Cedric the Entertainer) and family found their way to Santa Clarita for their annual family reunion in Johnson Family Vacation. Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch was the backdrop for scenes in the 2004 comedy.
One of Santa Clarita’s vacation hot spots, for visitors and residents alike, is the ever popular Mountasia Family Fun Center. Two of film’s most noted “dudes,” Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, were there in 2000 for the filming of Dude, Where’s My Car? The climax of the movie takes place at Mountasia with the scene commonly referred to as the “Super Hot Giant Alien” scene.
Two other very famous “dudes” were kidnapped and taken to Santa Clarita during their “bogus journey.” In the sequel to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, evil robots Bill and Ted kidnap the hapless heroes and take them to Vasquez Rocks and promptly kill them, setting up a meeting with the Grim Reaper. In Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, the oft filmed Vasquez Rocks serve as the backdrop as the protagonists put their limited collective wits together to trick the Grim Reaper so they “can get back to the babes.”
In the 2006 road film Little Miss Sunshine the Hoover family comprised of Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin and Steve Carell take a road trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Redondo Beach to get Olive (Abigail Breslin) to the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant. Along the way, they pass Vasquez Rocks on the 14 Freeway and stay at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, which doubles for Scottsdale, Arizona. The Chevron station on Lyons Avenue near I-5 was also used for a fun scene where the family rolls into the parking lot in their classic Volkswagen Type Two bus (Kombi) and swoop up young Olive without stopping. The 76 gas station and Wendy’s are prominently shown in the background.
These are just a few examples of “vacation films” shot in town. So, even though you might not think of Santa Clarita as a vacation destination because you live here, know that Hollywood does.
The City of Santa Clarita’s Film Office was started in 2002 and today processes over 500 permits per year, leading to over 1,300 film days! Filming is a great benefit to the community, adding over $30 million of positive economic impact per year to the local economy.
For a list of what has filmed in Santa Clarita, go to and follow the City’s film office at