I’ve been meaning to write about the Ernest movie that was shot around Orlando in the late ‘80s, and this week, I discovered the whole thing is on YouTube. In fact, “Ernest Saves Christmas” has been hiding there for a couple years. It’s small and the resolution is low, but it hasn’t been pulled down yet, so enjoy … or go buy a DVD.
A lot of movies and TV shows that shoot in Orlando pretend to be someplace else, but in “Ernest Saves Christmas,” Orlando plays Orlando. The easiest locations to spot are Orlando International Airport (Remember Eastern Airlines?), the Amtrak station in what’s now SoDo, and the original Orlando Science Center at Loch Haven Park. That complex is now home to the Lowndes Shakespeare Center and the Orlando Fringe.
A few scenes were shot inside FOX 35 WOFL in Lake Mary, which is funny to me because I worked there for three years and never knew. As Ernest drives around, you also get a look at 1980’s downtown Orlando. The old bank building that would become Tanqueray’s is “FOR LEASE” and there’s still a Gabriel’s Sub Shop downtown.
Parts of the movie were also shot at Disney-MGM Studios before the theme park even opened. The exterior set for Vern’s house was part of the Studio Backlot Tour, which was eventually torn down to build the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, which was eventually torn down for the Star Wars area now under construction. You can see Herbie, the Love Bug parked in the driveway in this home movie about three-and-a-half minutes in.