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It’s the 30th Anniversary of ‘Vacation’: Real-life Griswolds Travel to Walt Disney World Resort

Gary Buchanan

by , Walt Disney World Resort

Today in 1983, the motion picture “Vacation” was released in theaters. In the film, Clark Griswold tried to create the perfect family trip. Traveling cross-country to the fictional Walley World, he and his family hit the road to see the nation in a Wagon Queen Family Truckster car. The motion picture went on to become a classic and the car became an iconic part of the film.

Fast-forward to 2013, and a real-life family of Griswolds — Steve and Lisa Griswold, and their two daughters, Amber and Brooke — hopped into a custom-made Wagon Queen Family Truckster and drove from their home in Canton, Georgia, to Walt Disney World Resort.

Visiting Walt Disney World Resort on the 30th anniversary of the famous film? That’s definitely something that would even make Marty Moose proud.

The Real-Life Griswolds and their Family Truckster in Front of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World Resort

The custom car is only about 2 weeks old and this is the first vacation the family has taken in it. What was formerly a brown station wagon was transformed by a car shop in Georgia with new wood-panel siding and a new “metallic pea” color (the exact hue described in the film) paint job. Steve then added special touches like custom-made gold crown symbols on the side of the car, the signature, silver crown hood ornament and even a (faux) fuel tank door on the hood. (Be sure to take a look at the photo gallery to see more.) He also added a few modern conveniences, including DVD players (which were loaded with the “Vacation” film when we visited) and Bluetooth wireless technology. After putting some vintage luggage that he purchased online atop the luggage rack, the Griswolds were ready to hit the “holiday road” to Walt Disney World Resort.

One of their stops? Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a natural fit since much of the new resort is dedicated to an entire town of famous “Cars.”

Steve and Lisa, who own and operate a travel agency in Georgia, are no strangers to Walt Disney World Resort. They are both former Walt Disney World College Program participants and former cast members. They visit quite often with their daughters and have sailed on all four Disney Cruise Line ships.

The Family Truckster, Lisa says, is another fun way to experience Walt Disney World Resort. “For years people have commented about our name being ‘Griswold’ and our love of Disney,” she said. “We wanted to have fun with it and experience it on a wonderful family vacation.”

As Disney Parks Blog author and Yellow Shoes Creative Group photographer Gene Duncan took these photos and our Global Content Development broadcast crew shot the video, a crowd began gathering in front of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to admire and take photos of the car. “We’ve had such a wonderful time.” Lisa says. “We valeted the car at the Grand Floridian the other night before we ate dinner there, and the cast member couldn’t believe it. He told us he’s parked about every type of car there is, but never a family truckster.”


  • Hi Steve & Lisa,
    We were at the Contemporary Resort for dinner on September 19th & while walking into the resort saw your car in the parking lot. We just LOVED it! “Vacation” is one of our family’s most favorite movies. We took sooo many pictures of your car! Inside the lobby, we asked if it was really someone’s vehicle or just a prop, & they did not know what we were talking about! We did note that your name Steve was on the parking permit inside on the windshield . At any rate, seeing your car really made our evening! Enjoy & have fun! (And it looks like you really are!!!)

  • How cool is that?! That is so like my own family! We own Hudson’s so that is why Cars was a big movie for us all (It’s unfortunate though that they don’t focus more on the Famous Hudson Hornet anymore…). We recently went to Disneyland in hopes that there would be special merchandise, but no avail. Anyways, glad that you focused on an everyday family with this unique & creative story!

  • Love it! I’m going to have ‘Holiday Road’ stuck in my head all day now, haha.

  • What a great experience. Hope you have lots of fun trips with the Truckster!

  • Brings back memories of family vacations in our station wagon! Way to go to take the famous last name and make the most of it!

  • That is awesome!! Where’s Christie Brinkley?

  • Awesome! I can picture the Griswolds rolling up to the Contemporary Resort just like Dean Jones and Michele Lee in the 10th anniversary special. (I don’t suppose Micheal Keaton would be interested in playing the bellhop anymore.)

  • Awesome!!!!

  • Proud to say I know this family & they are just too cool!! Congrats Griswold family — rode trip to Disneyland for sure!

  • Proud to say I know this family & they are just too cool!! Congrats Griswold family — rode trip to Disneyland for sure!

  • This is AWESOME! How much fun!

  • I ordered the Antarctic Blue!

  • Ha Ha! I love it! Im sure they didn’t “forget” the dog tied to the car or strap Grandma to the roof!

  • This is awesome! Clark Griswold and Disney fans all over must be getting such a kick out of this! I am sure you guys made Disney even more “funner” for those who were lucky to have caught a glimpse of the Truckster!

  • OMG what a fun story! Ride on Griswolds! You rock the World! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures as you drive cross-country to Disney World!

  • I will be singing “holiday road” the rest of the day! I can’t wait to see them come and visit Disneyland, please keep us posted when that will be. One time I visited THAT park where Wally World was shot on a fall weekday and it was CLOSED. Can’t beleive it happened to us (TOO)!?! I so know that feeling. Love that Disney is open everyday!

  • Good going, guys. Super cute.

  • Well played, Griswold family and Walt Disney World!

  • Gary – thanks for a great experience! It was so much fun spending the day with your crew. Disney is always so professional and accommodating. I love that everyone is so supportive of our crazy little project. We’ll be back to Walt Disney World with the Truckster in September, so watch for us! :)

    • Lisa, the pleasure was ours! We love that you and your family celebrated a wonderful vacation together at Walt Disney World in such fun style. The attention to detail with your car was amazing. We’ll keep an eye out on I-4 for the Truckster for your next visit!

  • I want that car so bad I can’t stand it! The rear seats are to die for. Can I win a vacation to go with the Griswold family to WDW in the TRCKSTR?

    • I agree! I think many kids who ride in similar station wagons remember those seats in the back. Those are some great childhood memories for me.

  • Love the car! Brings back old memories. Yes, take a trip to Disneyland Cars, should be added to the attraction.

    Good going Griswold’s

  • Steve and Lisa are two of the best people I’ve met in my Disney fandom… great to see them featured here.

    I’m listening to their podcast as I type this!

  • I love the part about the valet at the Grand Floridian! I would’ve loved to see his face when the car rolled up.

  • If you think you hate it now, wait til you drive it :)

  • This is awesome! Unlike Wally World, Disney World is always open :) What a great way to travel!

  • Love this! The detail is amazing! What fun!

  • Tell me I’m not the only one singing Holiday Road.

    • No, you’re not. It’s been in my head since the weekend!

  • I love it! And if you drive out to Disneyland be careful not to get caught under a semi!

  • Hi Gary,

    Another story coming to life, how exciting! Do you know if they’ll keep the The Family Truckster at the Art of Animation Resort for a while? We’ll be at Walt Disney World soon and I would love to see it.

    Thank you,
    Jacqueline (Jackie)

    • Jackie,
      The Griswolds have loaded up the Family Truckster and hit the road again. But Lightning McQueen did enjoy seeing the famous station wagon at the resort.

  • That is hilarious! And I love it!!!! I’m a Griswold fan myself, but this is fantastic!

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