Accio Vacation: 6 Magical Harry Potter Experiences You Can Only Have in Europe

Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

Accio Vacation: 6 Magical Harry Potter Experiences You Can Only Have in Europe

Are you still waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter to arrive in the mail? Owl delivery service can be slow, take your magical future into your own hands with a trip to the fabulous world of Harry Potter in Europe.

Warner Bros Tour

A place where your favorite moments come to life, Warner Bros Studio in London is where scenes featuring the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and Platform 9 ¾ were filmed. Today the studio is jam-packed with priceless Hogwarts memorabilia, authentic props and original costumes. While on the studio tour you’ll learn about Dolores Umbridge’s enchanted kitten decor, say “hello” to Aragog and have the chance to take your best stab at parseltongue in an attempt to unlock the Chamber of Secrets.

City Sight-Seeing

After exploring the movie magic at Warner Bros, head to the streets of London for an inside look at even more famous filming locations. HP-themed sight-seeing tours are popular in the city and can be taken via foot or by bus. Once the muggles are adjourned and the tour begins, you’ll visit popular wizard hangouts like the Leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley, the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic and Knockturn Alley. In addition, tour groups convene near the bridges which members of the Order of the Phoenix flew en route to Grimmauld Place and stop at several locations where the Death Eaters wreaked havoc on the wizarding world.

One thing worth noting is that you may need a tube card depending on which tour you choose so be sure to do some research ahead of time.

Hogwarts IRL

While the iconic School of Witchcraft and Wizardry may be fantasy, many scenes were filmed in real places. External shots of Hogwarts in the first film were recorded at England’s Alnwick Castle including the scene where Harry learns to ride a broom. Fast-forward to year two where transfiguration class was taught at England’s Durham Cathedral. Those wild moving staircases featured throughout the series are none other than those of Oxford’s Christ Church College. Remember when Mad-Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret in Goblet of Fire? You can visit Oxford’s New College on Holywell Street and recreate the scene for yourself. After such an extreme transformation, a trip to Hogwarts’ Hospital Wing might be in order found at the Divinity School of Oxford University.

The sites listed above are just a few of many magical filming locations throughout Europe.

Hit the Big Stage

Have you ever wondered about Harry’s life as an adult? What about his son, Albus? The eighth installment in the Harry Potter series, The Cursed Child, aims to answer these questions and is the first of the stories to be presented on stage. If you’re looking to score some tickets for the show during your time in London, visit the Palace Theatre or harrypottertheplay.com.

Spend the Night

Are you a next-level witch or wizard? Consider staying overnight at a Harry-Potter-themed hotel. London’s Georgian House offers rooms in what they refer to as the “Wizarding Chambers” where guests can fully immerse themselves in a room decorated to rival the Gryffindor common room. The hotel’s Wizarding Chambers even have their own secret entrance, if that isn’t mystical enough for you, I don’t know what is.

The American Horror Story Guide to New Orleans

New Orleans‘ rich history made for the perfect setting for season three of American Horror Story, Coven. From Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau to deranged mass murderer Delphine LaLaurie, these figures weren’t just characters in a TV show – they were real people who lived out their days in The Big Easy and left their mark on the city forever.

Now, AHS did take a few artistic liberties. For example, Laveau and LaLaurie weren’t sworn enemies; in fact, they weren’t even alive during the same time period. But AHS also got some things right, in addition to crafting Gris-Gris bags for healing and good luck, Marie Laveau really was a hairdresser and Delphine LaLaurie was indeed as dark and sinister as portrayed.

If you find yourself in NOLA and want to do some Coven-inspired sight-seeing, here are a few stops you won’t want to miss.

Marie Laveau’s Tomb

Nestled in the famed St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, you’ll need to join a tour group to experience this piece of living history as it’s closely monitored by the archdioceses of New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries. Now you might be wondering, what is the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans doing buried in a Catholic cemetery? A great question and you might be surprised to find that Marie Laveau was a devout Catholic all her life who did not find it unusual to incorporate traditional voodoo rituals into her spiritual practice. Laveau became an important religious leader in the area as she led weekly ceremonial meetings and worked closely with individual clients in addition to performing acts of community service.

LaLaurie Mansion

Referred to by many as the “Cruel Mistress of the Haunted House,” Delphine LaLaurie and her home on Royal Street will forever go down in history as of one of New Orleans’ most disturbing discoveries. Part of a wealthy and politically powerful family, Delphine was married three times and had always owned slaves. It wasn’t until she and her husband Louis LaLaurie began having martial disputes that she was rumored to have gone mad, and then came the fire of 1834.

On April 10, 1834, a large fire consumed the LaLaurie Mansion in the midst of a lavish dinner party, revealing seven slaves who were tortured, chained and starved on the third floor of the building. The slaves had suffered inhumane graphic experiments; most of which are not fit for print. Appalled by the horrors within the LaLaurie Mansion, townspeople gathered and rioted in a rage, destroying and looting the home until it was nearly demolished. And what of Delphine? Amidst the chaos, Delphine LaLaurie managed to escape and is rumored to have lived out the rest of her days in Europe, never paying for her sins.

Hermann-Grima House

Considering that the LaLaurie Mansion is thought to be cursed, it was probably in everyone’s best interest that the scenes depicting the home were filmed off-site at the Hermann-Grima House. A well-preserved and restored 19th-century home, the Hermann-Girma House was home to many generations of families before becoming the popular St. Louis Street tourist spot that it is today.

Buckner Mansion

Also known as Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, the Buckner Mansion acted as the beloved Coven house of season three. This must-see residence is located in New Orleans’ stunning garden district among lush greenery and historic homes.

Built in 1856, the Buckner Mansion was once owned by Henry Sullivan Buckner, a cotton boss of the Mississippi. The home features a unique cast-iron fence, 48 fluted columns and three ballrooms. Since this is spooky New Orleans, it’s also worth mentioning that the mansion is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Miss Josephine, a slave from Civil War times. Miss Josephine is a friendly ghost and people have reported sounds of her sweeping the stairs followed by the scent of fresh lemon in the foyer.

Transfer your vacation and get a FREE Disney Gift Card!

Do you want up to get up to $100 in a FREE Disney Gift Cards to spend on your upcoming Disney Vacation?  If you booked a Disney World package (by phone or online directly with Disney World), you can add our agency to your reservation to help plan the rest of your visit with Mickey Mouse.  It is a simple process to get a FREE Disney Gift Card and a lot of free perks with our company.

  • Our Services are FREE (Disney pays us to help you plan your visit)
  • We are a local travel agency (right down the road from Disney World) with agents at Disney World 365 days a year!
  • Free MousePerks (valued over $199)
  • Free Dining Suggestions & Reservations (valued at $69.99)
  • Free Itinerary Planning (valued at $99.99)

FREE Disney Gift Card Amount:

The Disney Gift Card amount varies based on your package total.

Package Total – Disney Gift Card Amount

  • $2500 – $2999 / Free $40 Disney Gift Card
  • $3000 – $3500 / Free $50 Disney Gift Card
  • $3501 – $3999 / Free $60 Disney Gift Card
  • $4000 – $4500 / Free $75 Disney Gift Card
  • $4501 – $4999 / Free $90 Disney Gift Card
  • $5000 and up / Free $100 Disney Gift Card

*To qualify for the transfer the package must be booked within the last 30 days and not paid in full.  The package must be booked directly with Disney Travel (online at disneyworld.com or by phone).  The gift card will be mailed with your final documents 10 – 15 days before check in. 

Call me at 731-694-8890 or email me at Carolann.snider@wishesanswandstravel.com to transfer your Disney Package today!

Free Disney Dining Plans – A Delicious Offer for Disney® Visa® Cardmembers

Free Disney Dining Plans with Booking for Disney® Visa® Cardmembers

Savor the magic this summer during a fun-filled vacation at Walt Disney World® Resort! As a Disney Visa Cardmember, you can enjoy a FREE dining plan when they purchase a non-discounted 4-night/5-day Walt Disney Travel Company package that includes a room for 4 nights at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotel and 5-day theme park tickets with Park Hopper® Option.Book through June 16, 2019 for arrivals most nights Aug. 1-21, 2019. Note: packages for other lengths of stay may be available.

Select Disney Value Resort Hotels – FREE Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan

  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites Only
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Select Disney Moderate Resort Hotels – FREE Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan

  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

Select Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels – FREE Disney Dining Plan

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resort Hotels – FREE Disney Dining Plan

  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Booking Window: Now-June 16, 2019

Arrival Window: For arrivals most nights Aug. 1-21, 2019

You can book now through June 16, 2019 with your Disney Visa Credit Card.

Package Includes:

  • Room
  • Theme park ticket(s) with a Park Hopper Option
  • Dining Plan
    • Disney Quick Service Dining Plan with Value and Moderate Resort hotel packages includes 2 quick-service meals and 2 snacks per person, per night of stay. Several beverage options are available – including non-alcoholic specialty beverages and, for Guests 21 and older, beer, wine and cocktails.
    • Disney Dining Plan with Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resort hotel packages includes one quick-service meal, one table-service meal and 2 snacks per person, per night of stay. Table-service meals can be redeemed for Character Dining and other magical dining experiences. Several beverage options are available – including non-alcoholic specialty beverages and, for Guests 21 and older, beer, wine and cocktails.

Important Details:

  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
  • Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts.
  • Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, and The Little Mermaid standard rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
  • Gratuities are not included.
  • Children ages 3 to 9 must choose from the children’s menu, if available.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Advance reservations are required. Tickets valid for admission beginning date of check-in and must be used within a limited period of time, depending on the length of stay and ticket; visit disneydestinationstickets.com/usage for more details. Some table-service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase. Must purchase a Walt Disney Travel Co. room and ticket package, and must mention the offer when calling to book. Must use a valid Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card to pay the deposit. Disney Visa Cardmember must stay in room.

Save Up to 25% on Rooms at Select Disney Resort Hotels This Summer

This summer, stay in the magic at Walt Disney World Resort with this great room offer.

Save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels, valid for stays most nights May 28 through August 28, 2019 when you book through August 28, 2019.

When you book this offer for arrivals May 28 to June 30, 2019, you’ll receive a Disney Gift Card at check-in—so you can enjoy more magic during your stay! The value of your Disney Gift Card will vary based on Resort Category and original length of stay:

  • Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts: $25 per room per night
  • Disney Deluxe Resorts: $20 per room per night
  • Disney Moderate Resorts: $15 per room per night
  • Disney Value Resorts: $10 per room per night

See Important Details below about the Discount and Disney Gift Card.

If this offer isn’t right for you, ask us about the Free Meal offer on most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019 when you book through August 28, 2019. Other offers may also be available.

Important Details About the Room Discount

  • Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts and Studios at Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts.
  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.

Important Details About the Disney Gift Card

  • One Disney Gift Card per reservation.
  • If you complete online check-in in advance, the digital Disney Gift Card will be emailed to you on the day of your arrival. Otherwise, you’ll be asked for your email address when you check in at the Front Desk of your Disney Resort hotel—and the digital Disney Gift Card will be sent to that email address. The email will contain a bar code for using the digital Disney Gift Card, and the usage locations will be listed in the disclaimer. If you don’t receive your Disney Gift Card in your inbox, please check your spam folder or stop by the Front Desk for assistance.
  • Disney Gift Card is usable only to buy goods and services at participating locations including the Disneyland Resort; Walt Disney World Resort; Disney Cruise Line; Disney store locations in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico; and shopDisney.com.
  • Not refundable or redeemable for cash unless required by law.
  • Not redeemable to purchase another gift card or towards previously purchased goods or services. Not a credit or debit card.
  • Does not expire and no fees apply.
  • Lost, stolen, or damaged gift cards cannot be replaced without required proof of purchase and complete gift card number.
  • Disney Gift Card Services, Inc. (“DGCS”) is the card issuer and sole obligor to cardholder and is not responsible for any unauthorized use of card.
  • Card is valid only if obtained at select Disney locations in the US, Canada or Puerto Rico or authorized third-party distributors.
  • Card is not valid and will not be honored if obtained from unauthorized sellers or resellers, including through Internet auction sites.
  • For balance inquiry, participating locations, and additional terms and conditions (including arbitration agreement) for this gift card, visit DisneyGiftCard.com or call (877) 650-4327.
  • DGCS reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of the gift card upon notice at DisneyGiftCard.com.
  • Purchase, use or acceptance of card constitutes acceptance of these terms.

Savor Your Summer with a Tempting Offer at WALT DISNEY WORLD

New Walt Disney World Dining Offer

This summer, enjoy a little extra flavor during a fun-filled stay that’s sure to delight little ones and grown-ups alike.

Receive a FREE meal per person (ages 3 and up), per night at a select Walt Disney World Resort quick-service dining location when you purchase a non-discounted, Walt Disney World Travel Co. Package that includes a room for 4-nights at a select Disney Moderate or Value Resort Hotel and a 5-day theme park ticket. Ask about other lengths of stay.

Offer valid for arrivals most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019.

Book through June 30, 2019.

Important Details

  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
  • Offer excludes Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort and The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
  • Children ages 3 to 9 must choose from the children’s menu, if available.
  • Most beer, wine and cocktails included. Some exceptions apply. Must present valid ID to be served alcoholic beverages. May only be redeemed with the quick-service meal.
  • Gratuities are not included.

If this offer isn’t right for you, ask us about the 25% Off Rooms Offer on most nights May 28 through August 28, 2019 when you book through August 28, 2019. Other offers may also be available.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites is Now on Sale

Prices start at just $89 a night!

We’re excited to announce Universal Orlando’s newest hotel, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites is now on sale.

Dockside Inn and Suites is set to open in May 2020, and with rates as low as $89 per night, it will bring extra affordability to your client’s vacation. 

Dockside Inn and Suites is the second hotel coming to our new hotel complex, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. It will join Surfside Inn and Suites, which is set to welcome its first guests in July 2019.  

More than half of the rooms across both hotels will be 2 Bedroom Suites, featuring two separate bedrooms, a kitchenette and dining area, and a bathroom with a separate shower and vanity. The 2 Bedroom Suites will sleep up to six guests, perfect for the whole family. 


Walt Disney World Annual Pass Prices to increase

With the increase of the parking fee and the new date-based ticket pricing structure that was released today for guests at WDW, prices have also increased for all Walt Disney World Annual Passes effective today.  The only exception being the Water Parks Annual Pass.

Here is a break down:

Water Parks After 2 Annual Pass (Florida Residents only)

  • Increased from $75 to $79

Epcot After 4 Annual Pass (Florida Residents only)

  • Increased from $279 to $289

Disney Weekday Select Annual Pass (Florida Residents only)

  • Increased from $289 to $319

Disney Silver Annual Pass (Florida Residents only)

  • Increased from $439 to $479

Disney Gold Annual Pass (Florida Residents and DVC Members only)

  • Increased from $589 to $609

Disney Platinum Annual Pass

  • Florida Resident increased from $729 to $749
  • All other guests increased from $849 to $894

Disney Platinum Plus Annual Pass

  • Florida Resident increased from $829 to $849
  • All other guests increased from $949 to $994

Disney Cruise Line to Sail from New Orleans, Hawaii and Beyond in Early 2020

In early 2020, Disney Cruise Line will offer families even more ways to explore the world together with the addition of a brand-new home port in New Orleans, Louisiana and a highly anticipated return to the Hawaiian Islands. Disney Cruise Line will also return to Puerto Rico for a limited time and continue guest-favorite itineraries to tropical destinations from Florida and California.

First-time Home Port in New Orleans
In 2020, the Disney Wonder will embark on a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian cruises from New Orleans – the first time Disney Cruise Line will have a home port in Louisiana. Not only will this provide families from the region with the magic of having a Disney ship in their own backyard, but it will also draw families from farther away to discover this incredible city before they set sail.

Before or after their Disney cruise, Guests can venture into the city to savor the distinct flavors of famous New Orleans cuisine, visit family-friendly museums and parks, and revel in the sweet melodies of world-renowned jazz music. Travelers will delight in the Southern charm of this new home port, and Disney fans will find magic around every corner as they experience the iconic sights and sounds that inspired the beloved animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”

The Disney Wonder will embark on six cruises during this limited-time season from New Orleans, including four-, six- and seven-night Western Caribbean sailings; a seven-night Bahamian cruise; and a 14-night Panama Canal voyage, departing February 7 through March 6.

Long-Awaited Return to Hawaii
After a five-year hiatus, the Disney Wonder will return to Hawaii in early 2020 for two special cruises: a nine-night voyage to Honolulu from Vancouver, Canada, on April 29, and a 10-night sailing back to Vancouver on May 8.

During these dream vacations, guests will discover the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, including the famous beaches of Waikiki on Oahu; the views from high atop the summit of Haleakala Crater on Maui; the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls of Kauai; and the diverse natural wonders of Hawaii Island.

Popular Itineraries from Puerto Rico and California
The Disney Wonder continues its standout season with returns to popular home ports on both coasts. First, the ship sets sail for the Southern Caribbean during two seven-night voyages departing January 19 and 26 from San Juan, Puerto Rico, followed by a five-night Bahamian cruise. Then beginning on March 20, the ship embarks on seven sailings to Baja and the Mexican Riviera, ranging in length from two to seven nights, from San Diego, California.

Unforgettable Tropical Getaways from Florida
Disney Cruise Line will have three ships sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Florida in early 2020, and every cruise includes a day of fun in the sun on Disney’s private Bahamian island reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests, Castaway Cay.
From Miami, the Disney Magic will sail three-, four- and five-night Bahamian cruises and five-night Western Caribbean cruises.
From Port Canaveral, the Disney Fantasy will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, plus two special sailings at six- and eight-nights each.
From Port Canaveral, the Disney Dream will sail three- and four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay.
With a variety of options from Florida, Guests can choose the vacation that provides something for everyone in the family, combining the adventure and relaxation of tropical destinations, the ease and indulgence of an ocean cruise, and the world-class entertainment and service of a Disney vacation.

When To Book Early 2020 Itineraries
Platinum, Gold or Silver Castaway Club members, can take advantage of the opportunity to book early 2020 itineraries before they go on sale to the general public on October 4, 2018. Book either online or by phone during the designated booking window.
October 1, 2018: Platinum Members
October 2, 2018: Platinum and Gold Members
October 3, 2018: Platinum, Gold and Silver Members
October 4, 2018: all Guests