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"Arthur's Family Vacation"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 15A
Original Airdate: United States October 25, 1996[1]
Canada January 24, 1997[2]
Germany January 2, 2002[3]
Written by: Marc Brown (original)
Thomas LaPierre (adapted)
Storyboard by: François Brisson
"Arthur and the True Francine"
"Grandpa Dave's Old Country Farm"
Read transcript

"Arthur's Family Vacation" is the first half of the fifteenth episode in the first season of Arthur. It is based on the book Arthur's Family Vacation.


Instead of going with Buster to Camp Meadowcroak this year, Arthur has to go on a road trip with his family. After a series of misfortunes, the vacation may turn out better than he expected.


The introduction begins with a fantasy, showing Arthur and Buster riding in a canoe and being stepped on by a giant D.W.. In real life, D.W. is jumping up and down on top of a Camp Meadowcroak brochure on Arthur's bed. D.W. tells Arthur that he can't go to camp this year, because the whole family is going on vacation to the beach.

Arthur's Family Vacation

As Buster is packing for camp, he suggests that Arthur could be able to go to camp if he tells his parents that they need a vacation without the kids to relax.

Arthur tries, but his dad asks what Arthur would do with D.W. and Kate. Arthur suggests the three of them could go to camp, but then has a fantasy of his younger sisters having a tea party in his canoe. Arthur than suggests that D.W. and Kate go with David and Jane, while he goes to camp. Arthur tries arguing that he is old enough to choose his own vacation, and that the beach is dangerous, but to no avail. However, after David mentions that he wants to take them all out for lobster dinner, Arthur eventually decides that maybe the beach will be fun after all.

The next morning, the family leaves in their car, with D.W.’s huge inflatable shark “Sharky” tied to the roof. They ask if anybody needs to go to the bathroom, with everybody saying they are fine. As they are driving, they see Buster in the bus bound for camp.

The family makes a bathroom stop before returning to their trip.

D.W. mentions that Sharky wants to ride in the car next to her; Jane explains that there isn’t enough room. D.W. then suggests that Arthur ride on the roof, to which Arthur enthusiastically agrees (implying that he likes the idea). David tells D.W. that she’ll be able to play with Sharky when they get to the beach before she knows it.

The Reads suddenly get caught in traffic which is backed up on the highway ramp. David assures everyone that it’s only a minor setback. D.W. sniffs the air and notices a really bad smell. She then holds her nose in protest of the stink, and questions if the family ran over a skunk; it turns out that the smell is coming from Kate’s dirty diaper. D.W. calls it a gas chamber and proceeds to hyperventilate.

The family eventually makes it to another rest stop, and Jane changes Kate’s diaper while D.W. looks on in disgust.

David continues to talk about lobster, but Arthur and D.W. both want a "Jiffy Burger". The family ends up having lunch at a diner. Since the diner sold the last burgers to a group of bikers, the Reads get the “Chef’s Surprise”, which looks burned and disgusting. D.W. starts a conversation with one of the bikers. When the family drives on, D.W. has a burger, while everyone else is munching sadly on chocolate bars.

David sees an inflatable shark on a cattle truck, and realizes that he hadn't tied up Sharky properly. When D.W. finds this out, she throws a tantrum and screams. Several hours later, David chases the truck to a gas station, where he gets Sharky back.

The parents tell the kids about the hotel pool and the lobster dinner, and everyone has beautiful fantasies.

The family finally arrives at the Ocean View Hotel. However, they learn that they have lost their hotel reservation, and their room has been given to another family, because the journey took so long. They get a shabby small room instead, where the ocean is hidden behind buildings, Arthur and D.W. have to share a bed, and the pool is the size of a bathtub.

They go out for lobster dinner, but D.W. gets freaked out by the lobster, which she thinks looks like a “giant bug.” Arthur and D.W. are disgusted by the lobster. D.W. proceeds to defiantly demand a hot dog (with no claws). Jane tells D.W. to sit down, and that she can have a hot dog tomorrow when they are at the beach in a harsh voice of explanation.

A massive thunderstorm begins immediately after she says that, and the roof leaks in their hotel room. It also rains the next day. Arthur, David, and Jane regret going on vacation while D.W. tells them that they would be stuck in the thunderstorm if they were still at home. She takes a newspaper and chases a fly. The fly lands on Arthur's head, and she misses. When Arthur grabs the newspaper, he gets an idea and looks for things to do even during a thunderstorm. The Reads visit a cow festival where they meet the driver from the truck Sharky had ended up in. Somehow, Sharky is in the back of the truck with the cows yet again. They also go on a safari, take a tour of Flo's Fudge Factory, and go to see a movie.

Eventually, the rain stops, and the family finally gets the chance to enjoy the beach. Arthur buries D.W. in sand. He agrees that what David said had been right: this ended up being a great vacation.

Back home, Arthur unloads his bag full of photographs and shells. Buster tells Arthur a very long story about how the camp was hit by a hurricane and lightning (most likely related to the storm hitting the Reads' vacation spot), and the lake was contaminated, finishing the episode.






  • At the beginning, D.W. tauntingly sings, "You can't go to camp. You can't go to camp. We're going on vacation..." in near-perfect sync with the background music. This suggests the music track may have originally been written for this episode.
  • The character model for Arthur's then-current (now former) next-door neighbor Mr. Sipple is reused for the actor in the movie that the Reads see.
  • This is the only episode to be written by Thomas LaPierre.
  • At the end, Buster mentions a hurricane (somewhat relating to the storm the Reads encountered during their vacation) devastating part of Camp Meadowcroak. A hurricane later hits Elwood City in "Shelter from the Storm."
  • This is one of a few episodes to feature an extremely rare music track. It can be heard after the traffic jams up. It is also used in "Brain's Shocking Secret" and "Mr. Alwaysright," both from Season 11.

Differences from the book

  • This story takes place shortly after the events of "Arthur Goes to Camp," which also takes place before Arthur starts third grade. In the book, the story starts out on Arthur's last day of school in third grade.
  • In the book, the Reads go to Gatorville. In the episode, they go to a diner for lunch.
  • In the book, Buster says that camp was great and that he missed Arthur, while in the episode, Buster says camp was okay until they got hit by a hurricane.
  • In the book, Kate cries when D.W. announces that the family can't go to the beach because of the rain. In the episode, Kate doesn't cry.

Episode connections

  • Arthur previously went to Camp Meadowcroak in "Arthur Goes to Camp."
  • D.W. takes too many fudge samples; Buster does this as well in "Buster's Amish Mismatch."
  • During the traffic jam, D.W. is forced to deal with the unpleasant smell of Kate's dirty diapers. This also happens in "D.W.'s Baby," when Kate smells up D.W.’s room with her stinky diapers.

Cultural references

  • The movie shown in the theater is a reference to the 1975 film Jaws.


Arthur's Family Vacation off-model.png
  • When Arthur buries D.W. in the sand, an umbrella hides his ears, although he is not standing under it.
  • While the Read family is leaving the diner, David is holding a candy bar in one hand while he's driving. In the next few seconds, the candy bar is gone and he has both of his hands on the steering wheel.
  • Sharky's fins change to different colors in different scenes.
Arthur's Family Vacation (124).jpg
  • For one second while Arthur says the word "No," his father had the same clothes as him.
  • In the closing scene where we see Arthur and Buster in the window, Buster is in his regular clothes instead of his camping outfit.
  • In a few shots, D.W.'s ears briefly turn the same color as her hair. Most notable are when she covers her eyes before the lobster dinner is revealed, and later after D.W. accidentally swats Arthur while attempting to swat the fly.
  • When Jane says "I thought you tied him on!" one of her ears disappears in a frame.

Home Video


D.W.'s ears turning the same color as her hair.


Free on-demand episode courtesy of

PBS (Kids Thirteen)


Main article: Arthur's Family Vacation (episode)/Gallery