If you’ve ever seen ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’, you’ll know how much fun it was to follow the Griswold family on their disastrous vacation to visit Ellen’s cousin Catherine, where they eventually reach the Walley World theme park. With Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold and tons of other colorful characters, like the infamous Marty Moose (the mascot of Walley World), it’s a movie you won’t soon forget.
Still, when you saw the movie for the first time (out of many, many viewings), you may have found yourself wondering ‘Is there really a Wally World?’. After all, the film makes it seem like so much fun. Well, now’s the time to find out. I’ve done all the digging on Walley World and whether this magical place is real or just another Hollywood set…
- Walley World is a fictional theme park featured in the National Lampoon’s Vacation movie.
- The filming location for the original film was Six Flags Magic Mountain.
- The filming location for the sequel ‘Vacation’ film was Six Flags Over Georgia.
- Walley World is fashioned after the world-famous Walt Disney World theme parks and uses Marty Moose as the mascot (as opposed to Mickey Mouse).
Is Walley World a Real Place?
I don’t remember the first time I ever saw the ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ movie. But what I do remember is how enamored I was with the thought of ‘America’s favorite family fun park’ (besides the iconic Wagon Queen Family Truckster being crushed in an unfortunate twist of fate). I mean, that’s literally how the movie described the Walley World amusement park.
If you’ve also found yourself scouring the internet to book yourself a holiday to Walley World, you’ve probably realized that you’re out of luck. The unfortunate answer to everyone’s burning question ‘Is Walley World real?’ is no, the Walley World amusement park isn’t a real place. Or, at least, the theme park that is featured in the movie isn’t real.
The Walley World park in the film is fashioned after Walt Disney World and is purely fictitious. However, there was a real theme park that went by the name ‘Wally World’ (without the ‘e’) in Ontario, Canada. It was part of a larger park known as London Park, but despite the name and similarity to the film’s amusement park, it doesn’t have any connection to the ‘Vacation’ movies.
Sadly, even this beloved water park has closed its doors, leaving everyone who ever had the dream of visiting Walley World absolutely crushed. Still, there is a way that you can live out your fantasy by visiting the amusement park where the movie was filmed.
How to Get There and Tips For Visiting
If you search ‘Walley World California’ or ‘Where is Walley World theme park?’, chances are you won’t find a physical location to visit. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though, considering this amusement park sadly doesn’t exist in the real world. Instead, it will only ever be immortalized in ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’.
Still, you can take a little trip to Walley World by re-watching the iconic box office hit, which stars Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, and Beverly D’Angelo.
And if that doesn’t sound too exciting, don’t fret. There is still a reason to get excited. You can always visit the roller coasters and other locations where the movie was filmed and try to recreate the adventure that the Griswold family had for yourself.
Getting to Six Flags Magic Mountain
You’ll find the original Walley World at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which is in California. There are several different ways to get there, depending on where you’re coming from. The most common routes include:
- From Anaheim or San Diego: Take the Interstate 5 Freeway North, then exit at Magic Mountain Parkway. Make sure to turn left at the first traffic signal under the freeway overpass and at the bottom of the exit ramp. Proceed all the way up Parkway to the parking lot and tolls at the entrance of the park.
- From Universal City: From Universal City or Hollywood, you’ll want to take the 101 Freeway North to the 170 Freeway North. Once again, you’ll want to take the exit at Magic Mountain Parkway before turning left at the first traffic signal at the bottom of the exit ramp. Then, keep going up Parkway until you reach the park.
- From the Interstate 15 Freeway: When you’re on the Interstate 15 Freeway North, take it to the 210 Freeway West until you reach the Interstate 5 Freeway North. From there, follow the same directions as above.
- From LAX: As you leave LAX, you’re going to want to take Century Boulevard to the 405 Freeway North. Take this to the junction with Interstate 5 North and follow the steps above.
- From Burbank Airport: From Burbank Airport, you can take the same route as visitors coming from Anaheim or San Diego.
Behind the Scenes: Filming Walley World
If you’re interested in how Hollywood tricked us all into believing in a fake amusement park, then let’s take a peek behind the silver screen. Where was the movie actually filmed, and how did they create the illusion of a real theme park? Let’s get into it…
Where was Walley World filmed?
While the 1983 film used Six Flags Magic Mountain as a filming location for Walley World in California, the 2015 version of the movie chose Six Flags Over Georgia, which is located near Atlanta, Georgia. These two parks have really similar aesthetics, which is what helped to maintain the illusion of continuity between the original story and the reboot.
Through a lot of careful filming, clever angles, and professional framing and editing, the crews were able to create the perfect backdrop for Walley World. And, since the cast was actually on many of the rides, it made the scenes even more believable and immersive.
Differences between the Vacation films
Besides the filming locations, there were some slight differences between the ‘Walley World’ park in the two movies.
In the 1983 movie, the Griswold family rides rollercoasters known as the ‘Screaming Mini’ and ‘Revolution’. These are actually stand-ins for the Colossus and Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Interestingly, the Revolution coaster is still standing at the park and is known as the first modern steel coaster to feature a full loop.
The family is also filmed enjoying the thrilling ‘Velociraptor’ ride. However, this is actually the Blue Hawk coaster that you can find at Six Flags Over Georgia.
The stories and context
Another difference between the two Walley World parks in the films is the context in which they appear. In the 1983 movie, the Griswold family embarks on a cross-country road trip to visit the park as a way to bring the family closer together. The 2015 film follows Griswolds’ second visit to the theme park. However, this time, the family is trying to enjoy the park before it closes forever.
Walt Disney World VS Walley World
When you’re watching the movie, you can get the sense that Walley World is based on a real park. Or, at least, that’s how it seems. Although it has never been confirmed, plenty of fans of the ‘Vacation’ movies believe that Walley World bears a striking resemblance to Walt Disney World. The original movie concept was based on a short story written by John Hughes, which was published in the National Lampoon Magazine.
In the original short story, John Hughes specifically mentions Disneyland as the family’s destination. It can only be assumed that the film wasn’t able to use any of the trademarked names (like Disney or Mickey Mouse).
However, the parallels between the very real and the fictitious park are pretty obvious. I mean, even the mascot’s names are similar! Mickey Mouse became Marty Moose – both double M’s. So, in the movie’s own unique way, they paid homage to the original storyline of the short story.
Frequently Asked Questions
Instead of asking what Wally World means, the real question is what is Wally World? The term ‘Wally World’ is used to refer to a fictional theme park that is prominently featured in the 1983 classic ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’. Although this spelling of the Wally World park is widely used and well-known, the spelling that was used in the movie was actually ‘Walley World’.
Inspired by the ‘Vacation’ movies, some people have taken to calling Walmart ‘Wally World’. This is just a fun nickname that people have given to the giant department store and has been popular slang to refer to Walmart for several years.
While Walley World may be a fictional theme park that was created for the ‘Vacation’ films, the impact that it had on many of the fans was very real. Although you may not be able to visit the iconic park from the movies, you can always visit one of the movie’s filming locations or the inspiration for the whole park – Disneyland!