THE Wizard Walk of York has won third place in the Best Family Experience in the World category of the TripAdvisor Best of the Best Awards, pipped only by Californian dolphins and Scottish chocolate.
“Apparently less than one per cent of the eight million attractions receive this international award,” says the Wizard of York, alias wandering wizard and magical mirth maker Dan Wood.
“The overall winner is swimming with dolphins in South Carolina, then The Chocolatorium in Edinburgh, my tour at number three, then the Roman Gladiator fighting school in Italy!”
The award is based on an analysis of 12 months of reviews, comments and ratings on the TripAdvisor website and app and recognises traveller experiences that appeal to children as well as their parents. As many as 111 York tours feature on the site!
Despite only launching in February 2022, Dan’s tour already has won Best Tour of York (Little Vikings Awards), Silver Winner, Best Small Attraction (YorkMix Choice Awards) and Highly Commended, Experience of the Year (Visit York Awards).
TripAdvisor, however, is the first international award for York’s wandering wizard and Central School of Speech and Drama-trained entertainer, who first made his mark as magician The Magic Hatter for more than a decade at events and parties and on stage.
“I’m absolutely spellbound and delighted be recognised for bringing wizard fun and comedy to the streets of York,” says Dan, whose tour involves searching for magical creatures, from gargoyles to carved cats, in York’s alleys and snickleways. “There are 15 ghost walks in the city, but my goal was to create a truly unique family-friendly experience, with the emphasis on making magical memories.”
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Dan’s tour was born from the chaos of the pandemic, prompting him to hang up The Magic Hatter’s big green hat to focus on the Wizard Walks and his charity work in hospitals as a trained Giggle Doctor.
Attired in cloak, frock coat, waistcoat and hat, Dan leads his walks with the promise of mystery, history, magic, spells, comedy and “more wizard puns than you can shake a wand at”.
“With it’s cobbled streets and winding alleys, York looks like something from the pages of a magical wizarding novel,” he says. “There’s magic around every corner, and lots of opportunities for young wizard fans to join in with their own optional Wizard Wand Kit.”
Tours for children aged five to ten and their parents – plus “bigger kids with a silly sense of humour” – can be booked at www.wizardwalkofyork.com. They run regularly from Shambles (St Crux churchyard to be precise), taking in Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, Mad Alice Lane, York Minster, St William’s College and Bedern.
“I’ve been working on my ‘sunny spells’ and have many extra walks scheduled through the summer holidays,” says Dan. “Exclusive private tours are available for birthdays, school groups, kids’ clubs, Rainbows, Beavers and more.”