Back in the '90s, it was pretty routine for sitcoms to do vacation episodes. Watching TV is already an escape for viewers, but when you add an exotic locale on top of that? Well, that's just the ultimate escape. And although many classic shows did their own versions of the vacation episode, like
Family Matters, Boy Meets World, and Step By Step, nobody did them quite like Full House. were both plentiful and memorable — Full House vacation episodes apparently the Tanners were loaded — and they definitely inspired many a '90s kid to take trips of their own. But which Full House vacation episode was the best?
First, you've got to ask yourself, "what makes a good
Full House vacation episode?" For starters, obviously, you need to put the characters in a location other than San Francisco. Next, you really should involve the entire family. Some vacation episodes only feature one or two characters going on an escapade, and while these certainly fit the criteria of a vacation episode, they're going to be inherently weaker than an installment that features the whole gang going away together. And finally, and this is the most important criterion, is Adventures with a capital "A." The more adventures squeezed into a vacation episode, the better. So with these rules in mind, here's how all of Full House's vacation episodes stack up.
"The Seven-Month Itch - Part One"
This episode starts off with an extremely strong vacation premise: The Tanners are going to Disneyland! But then it takes a strong nosedive, as fog prevents the family's plane from taking off and they never make it to the Happiest Place on Earth. They just... stay home instead. Come on guys, you could have at least
driven somewhere fun. Heck, you're in California already, Disneyland's only like a seven hour drive!
Once Jesse's new single hits number one in Japan, his record label sends him, Becky, and the twins there to promote it. But Jesse acts like an arrogant jerk the whole time he's in Japan, and the Tanners and Joey all stay in California. With less than half the episode taking place in another country, and a distinct lack of fun in the parts that do, there's not much to like here.
Joey gets a gig in Vegas, and the whole family makes the trip to watch his comedy show. However, the fun is mostly sucked out of the room after Stephanie invites Joey's estranged father, and the episode revolves mainly around their strained relationship instead of Sin City hijinks.
Another career-driven getaway, Joey's new comedy show in L.A. with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello at least gets the whole family to come visit him. There's not much in the way of adventures, but Funicello and Avalon do make for some fun guest stars.
Once Stephanie and Michelle stow away on a plane bound for New Zealand, you'd think this would lead to some grand adventures for the two. Instead, we don't get to see them explore another country at all, as they hitch a flight back to San Francisco as soon as they land. Lots of missed potential here, but the plane scenes at least have a decent vacation feel.
Rather than a family vacation, this atypical episode centers on a "guys' trip." Joey, Jesse, and Danny take a fishing trip together on a yacht without the kids. This ends up turning into a failed romance for all three, who strike out with women they meet on the boat, but the episode does get some bonus points for Joey's Captain's hat.
"Our Very First Christmas Show"
So this functions both as a holiday episode and a vacation episode, but hey, Christmas vacations are totally a thing so it counts. Encountering plane trouble once again while heading to Colorado, the entire family ends up stranded at an airport for Christmas. They make the most out of a bad situation, learning that being together is what really matters, and Santa even shows up! So overall, this ends up making for a pretty solid vacation.
There's a lot of fun stuff here as the Tanners prepare to head to a family reunion at Lake Pollock, including some great road tripping bits and talk about games they'll play at the lake. However, the episode's vacation credentials are a bit hindered by the main story involving Jesse's decision to stay home and try to write a song. By the time he joins the family, there's not enough time to really show them competing in the games at the reunion, but it still ends on a high note with the Tanners winning some kind of trophy.
This two-parter sees everyone head to Lake Tahoe for a taping of Danny and Becky's TV show. There are tons of classic vacation bits here, from Joey's casino gambling to the girls' checking out their hotel rooms to Michelle learning how to swim. The main plot revolves around the ups and downs of Jesse and Becky's relationship, as they almost get married, which takes away a bit of the fun, but overall this ranks as a very strong vacation episode.
"The House Meets The Mouse"
You could probably place this monstrous two-parter at number one and it wouldn't be a major scandal, as the whole gang heads to Walt Disney World and has a ton of adventures, with everyone getting to do their own thing. There are seriously too many adventures to list here, and the only real knock against the episode is that it is basically a giant ad for Disney World (Disney would go on to buy ABC a little over two years later).
It takes a truly special episode to beat the Tanners' trip to WDW, and that's what you get with this Hawaiian excursion. You've got everything you could possible want in a vacation episode: Romance with Joey and a local woman, magic with Stephanie's search for the mythical menehune, adventure with the family believing they're stranded on an island, culture with a hula show, humor with Danny's legendary "
clipboard of fun," and Jesse's big, Elvis-inspired musical number. This episode is the undisputed king of sitcom vacations. Full House had a lot of vacation episodes, and that's one of the things that made the show special. In a series that's all about family togetherness, sometimes it takes removing the characters from their comfort zone to really show how close they are to one another.