Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure | 1989
Irresistibly dorky fun with the California airhead dudes zizzing about in time to achieve an unlikely A in a school history project. Over the years, the suburbs of Los Angeles have stood in for just about every state in the US, but for once there’s a turnabout and, this time, Arizona stands in for California.
San Dimas is real enough (it’s east of LA), but the film was made around the Phoenix area.
The house where Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves) lives with his overbearing cop dad has changed a little, but is still recognizable at 1841 East Berridge Lane, between North 18th and North 20th Streets. It’s just west of the water treatment plant that stood in for the jail in Raising Arizona.
‘San Dimas High’ has undergone a more radical revamp. The exterior is Coronado High School, 2501 North 74th Street at East Virginia Avenue in Scottsdale; while interiors were filmed at East High School, which stood on North 48th Street at East Roosevelt Street, but was demolished in 2002
Puzzling over the date when Mongols ruled China, Ted and Bill (Alex Winter) naturally consult shoppers at the local grocery store. Still in business, this is the Circle K Supermarket, 1010 West Southern Avenue at South Hardy Drive. It’s here they get a whole lot of unexpected help from Rufus (George Carlin) and his time-travelling phone box. They’ll still have phone boxes in 2688?
After a quick detour to 19th Century ‘Austria’, courtesy of a clip borrowed from the 1956 film of War And Peace, where Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) is whisked along for the ride, the pair arrive in the old West.
The ‘New Mexico’ town, Billy the Kid (Dan Shor) gets added to their roster of past legends, was the Western Street at the old Carefree Studios. Built in 1968 as the Southwestern Studios, the 47-acre site, which stood on Scottsdale Road, was demolished in July 1999.
Surprisingly, there’s a budget-busting trip to Italy for the next couple of locations.
The ‘Athens’ of 410BC, where Bill and Ted realise that the philosophy of Socrates (Tony Steedman) is not a million miles away from that of Kansas and their Point Of Know Return album – “All we are is dust in the wind” – is part of the overblown white marble Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Il Vittoriano), on Piazza Venetia in central Rome.
Far from being ancient, it was designed in 1885 and not completed until the 20th century. Brian Dennehy works here in Peter Greenaway’s The Belly of An Architect, and in 2003 disaster movie The Core, it gets totally destroyed.
About 20 miles northwest of Rome, you can find the ‘English’ castle of King Henry, where Bill and Ted encounter the princesses and are rescued from beheading. It’s the 15th century Odescalchi Castle, on the southwestern shore of Lake Bracciano. If you’re looking for an upscale wedding venue in Europe, this is where Tom Cruise tied the knot with Katie Holmes.
Meanwhile, back in ‘San Dimas’, Ted’s younger bro Deacon is introducing Napoleon to the delights of ice cream at ‘Zyggie’s’. The ice cream parlor, where the French emperor proudly receives his ‘I Was A Zyggie Piggy’ badge, is the home of pizzas’n’fun for kids, Chuck E Cheese, 8039 North 35th Avenue, in Phoenix.
He’s not so lucky at the bowling alley, getting thrown out. Also still thriving, it’s Tempe Village Lanes, 4407 South Rural Road, in Tempe.
‘San Dimas Mall’, in which the historical characters have a wild old time before getting arrested, is the MetroCenter, Peoria Avenue and I-17 Freeway, Phoenix. It’s still there though, predictably, it’s had a bit of a makeover since 1989.
‘Waterloo’, the water park where Bill and Ted finally catch up with the missing Napoleon is Golfland/Sunsplash, 155 West Hampton Avenue, in Mesa.