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My Top 6 Fantasy Filled Vacations: Geeky Getaways & Princess Pilgrimages

Published December 19, 2012 by sefra mack

There are so many great locations that have been used as backdrops for the most beloved blockbusters & cult classics worshiped by the nerd herd (pinched from P.C. Cast, one of my affectionate nicknames for the blessed & obsessed, such as myself).

hogwarts luggage

All aboard for Fantasy Adventures!!

The memories of the scenic vistas & epic landscapes are so dreamy, they always stay with you. Now, add to that the tantalizing Facebook pages like Fascinating Places & I Want to go there, plus the glory that is the internet, & you can dream up a vacation that will make you feel like you’re taking a magic carpet ride to Narnia, with a golden compass in your pocket:)

So, Just for fun (& personal planning purposes, cuz I’m totally going :P), I’ve listed my Top 6 Fantasy Vacations. Why 6, you ask? I like multiples of three, & its my blog, so :P. Lol..here we go…coming in at…

#6. ~ The Headland Hotel ~

the setting for the classic children’s movie, The Witches (book by Roald Dahl)

headland summer

The hotel in the summer with its beautiful cliffs & crags (I can still see Luke chasing that baby carriage!)…

headland autumn

And the autumn (so dramatic & awesome! thats my pick!) Click to see bigger pics & explore the site!

There are very few movies from my childhood that completely stand the test of time.

Although you always love them, a bit of the magic dies as you grow older; The Witches is certainly not one of those movies.

With the magic of Jim Henson’s puppets added in, the gloriousness that is Angelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, the beautiful setting of Cornwall, England & the majesty of the Headland Hotel, this movie almost makes you want to change into a mouse for a little while 🙂

The Hotel is so incredible that 90% of the movie is filmed there, & you never see the whole thing!

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that after a health scare, Luke, the main character, & his grandma visit the hotel, on orders from the doctor (seriously? “a good holiday by the seaside & you’ll be right as rain”; friggin American doctors never say crap like that! lol).

Once you see the hotel, you can understand why ANYONE would want to rest & relax there (even though the poor woman got attacked, nearly lost her grandson, & had to battle a platoon of witches. Not very restful! lol)

Although the hotel has changed (it was renamed the Excelsior for the movie, & has since changed hands to new owners, & undergone a lot of renovations), & times have certainly changed as well, the spirit & the grandeur of this hotel seem to live on, & British elegance is most definitely alive & well.

headland tea

as Luke’s grandma said “I love English hotel teas!”..At least i’m pretty darn sure I will! I’d go all the way to Cornwall just for this!

There are packages, & awesomeness like surfing lessons. The gorgeous English seaside is your temporary home, where you can indulge in British High Teas, decadent Spa Treatments (another update I’m not upset about 😛 ), top notch alfresco dining, with the most stunning views of the Atlantic, roaring fires, cozy comfort (doggies are even allowed!), & English hospitality.

inside the hotel 1

a tiny glimpse down the hallway at the way I remember the hotel from the film…glad some touches remain!

I have always longed to vacation on the English seaside or countryside like a high society lady, & I’ve discovered that it can come at a price I could actually afford! The BEST rooms & suites start at £249 (which translates to just over $400/night). I have yet to find 5 star seaside suites in America at that price. And certainly none that would give me the option of saying I got to stay at a place where some of my dreams were made 😀

headland best suite

One of the best suites! & They’d even let my puppy stay! I haveta say, I’d pay way more than they’re asking! Sweetness!!

headland cuisine

Looks sooo delicious! I have not had nearly enough 4 star cuisine, & I’m feeling deprived! Add that to the views outside this place?? I may never leave!

Now, although I dream of going, for sure, the fact that the old-fashioned touches from the movie, & the fact that the fantasy aspect of the hotel’s history doesn’t seem to be embraced by the owners is a bit of a bummer. My next stop of my fantasy tour definitely makes up for that!

OH! I’d like to take a sec for a little bonus side trip, plus my favored way of getting from Vacation spot #6 to Vacation Spot #5…

A Coastal train ride!

The drive from Cornwall to London is about 5 hours…OR you could take a sleeper train ride!

Its a bit cramped, & a bit crazy, but I’ve always wanted to take a long train ride, & I can’t think of a better place to do it than in England. You get breakfast in your own car, no traffic, & gorgeous views of water & countryside until you arrive at Paddington station! Yet another iconic spot!

Cornwall-sleeper-paddington

The coolness of riding the rail in Europe…yup, i can get into that!

Cornwall train view

An ocean view from the train to london

Traveling by train seems more than appropriate when you consider  what our next stop is 😀 If only we could arrive on the Hogwarts Express!

#5. The Harry Potter UK Warner Brothers Studio & London Film Locations Taxi Tour

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one that started salivating as soon as they began construction on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. And, let me just say, if I have to crawl to Florida on my hands & knees, I WILL vacation there as well, BUT that is not my ultimate Harry Potter Vacation

The ultimate would be to see Kings Cross station, the spots used to film Gringotts, the Leaky Cauldron, & Diagon Alley up close, & personally. Actually getting to see the Studio the movies were filmed in as opposed to just seeing the recreations in Orlando (not that I won’t be physically turned on when I go there, but I’m just saying;)…it  would be one thing, & one thing only: Magical.

Not only has London always been my number one most desired destination to visit, its now chock full of Harry Potter Wonderfulness!!

Although I’m positive there are a TON of tours available to tourists in London with a Harry Potter bent, I believe I’ve found the best one:

The Harry Potter Film Locations Taxi Tour by London Walks

(here’s a little link to a short video of a Harry Potter walk)

There are fancier, more mainstream tours available, & in my opinion, that’s just one more reason this one is bound to be the best.

If I’m walking through London looking for Harry, Ron & Hermione’s haunts, I want a guide that’s down, & knows his peeps; not one that works for “the man”.

This tour has NO negative feedback! It claims to immerse the Harry Potter geeks attending, old & young alike, in Wizard World Wonder!

warner-bros-harry-potter-20142838

I have no words! I’ve been stupefied! lol

There are a couple other options, but I chose this Taxi Tour because in conjunction with the walking tour that takes you to spectacular & historic places around London that were used in the film (& the architecture! OMG!), it includes the Warner Brothers studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter (um, nuff said! click this link, & I’ll meet you there!! 😛 ), which is a must for me if I actually get to England.

Great-Hall

The great hall! Seriously!!?!

This hum-dinger of a tour is totally customizable, & can include the Warner Brother Studio Tour, & great set locations such as the Knight Bus Bridge, the Flying Car crime scene, Platform 9 3/4, & Oxford! (Also used in the Golden Compass:))

platform 9.75

the first image I found totally backed up choosing Richard Walker as a guide. Wheh I visit, its gonna be like meeting a celebrity!

Not only is the itinerary mind-blowing, the tour guide is touted to be just as incredible. Knowledgeable about the geekery at hand, & an actor himself, Richard Walker is also a licensed London cabbie! That fact, plus knowing that he is THE GUY for this tour before I even get there leaves me with complete confidence that this tour would completely live up to my fantasy vacation expectations 🙂

How could it get any better?….Oh, just you wait…

I’m not sure how I didn’t hear about this before now, but its incredible: I assume since there is so much unspoiled countryside in New Zealand (one of the reasons its popular to film there in the first place, btw), they were able to actually LEAVE UP THE SETS!! Now, recognizing the tourism benefits, & in anticipation of the newest movie in the franchise, I imagine, the powers that be have amped up the current attraction, & now, more than ever, I MUST visit…

#4. Hobbition & The Lord of the Rings New Zealand Film Locations Tour

green dragon pub

“It comes in pints??! I’m getting one!” 🙂

In addition to the new Green Dragon Pub that’s now open to visitors (yup, you can now drink a pint where Merry & Pippin did…I foresee at least a hobbit sized hangover lol), the epic sets are available for the discerning geek to visit (or wallow in, but whatever 😛 )

shire

I wonder if I could just hide in one of those little nooks, & live there…forever! wowzers

The Hobbit “Shire” is actually part of a working New Zealand farm, which is also available for visits. So, not only can you visit the stunning New Zealand countryside, & get an inside look into the film locations of one of the most cast & incredible films of our time, you get to feed baby animals & actually have a “second breakfast”, hobbit style. heehee

Bag-End-door

so glad they left it up!! if I built something so awesome, I wouldn’t have the heart to strike the set, no way

Although the hobbit tours are more than enough of a draw to get me to New Zealand, there is a TON more to see on this unique continent.

Daredevils will love the popular bungee jumping & sky diving scene in New Zealand (the cast of LOTR actually indulged in this one!!), & nature enthusiasts? Well, this is the place for them. Period.

Not only are there some of the most gorgeous vistas & some of the most breathtaking mountain climbing to be had, but you can actually go kayaking with dolphins. In New Zealand. I Cannot WAIT!

river

I want to be there! Now! Click this to dream along with me!

And then there are the native people, the Maori. Whenever there is a new culture to explore, especially an indigenous tribe with unique art, customs, folklore & their own language, I think you’d be a fool not to explore it. Learning about this majestic place from the native people sounds so good, I almost don’t need the hobbit part….almost ;P

There are few places in this world that are more unspoiled than New Zealand (seriously, they have more sheep than people…friggin paradise!), & the fact that you can get a tour of the Lord of the Rings universe, including Peter Jackson’s WETA studios, is too delicious to pass up!

weta gift shop

I’d buy everything not nailed down!

Just looking at the pictures makes me wanna go on an epic quest of my own! 😀

…&, indeed, this would be an epic quest!…

#3. Castles of the World Tour ~ Featuring Neuschwanstein, The inspiration for the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle

sleeping beauty castle winter

so magical! it looks like its inside a snowglobe!

♥ The main event of this tour, Neuschwanstein, or, as its more commonly known, Sleeping Beauty Castle, is what inspired this entire post. The fact that a place like this exists, & was built without modern technology is simply baffling. The castle was built as a personal hideaway for Ludwig II of Bavaria, & he hit the nail on the head: No one could find you if you wanted to get lost inside this fortress! The fact that this castle was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle makes total sense. Not only does it look enchanted, but you could totally believe that the trees surrounding it grew over hundreds of years while a maiden just as beautiful lay frozen inside.

All the comments I’ve found mention that there is a LOT of walking to do if you want to enjoy this part of your fantasy vacation, but, by all accounts, its totally worth it.

hall of singers

The hall of singers…I don’t care what they do to me, I’m singing something in this room when I go there! 🙂

sleeping beauty castle trees

Such stunning architecture!

sleeping beauty castle bedroom

Sleeping Beauty’s bedroom: a must see for me!

As I researched this castle tour, I learned about another: They’re a bit lengthy, but the Castles of the World Tours sound too cool to pass up! The entire tour is just over a week long, and the beautiful architecture & history will surely last you a lifetime.

My Personal favorite is the Bavarian Castles Tour (which includes sleeping beauty castle). Not only do you get to see soo many beautiful buildings, but transportation, admissions, guides, & breakfast buffets & 3-course dinners are included!

Linderhof_View_240

Linderhof ~ another castle on the tour

castle tour 4

Another beautiful bavarian castle

Not only would I get to see this iconic castle & the others that make Europe grand, but I’d get to see the beauty of the European landscape from the same vantage point as a princess🙂 I can hardly wait!

Added to my sightseeing, party time vacations of fantasy & elegance, I had to add one convention. Although there are tons of Comic-Cons & LARP extravaganzas I’m DYING to attend, this is a festival that practically no one seems to know about, & just watching it on the internet made me feel like I was a fly on the wall for all of my favorite shows, so I had to include it here:

#2. Museum of Television & Radio in California ~ PaleyFest!

This is another one I didn’t know about! Every year at the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television & Radio), every cast & production staff from every TV show that you love come together & answer questions for inquiring geeks! AND you can buy tickets!!!

modern family paley

I wanna laugh WITH jay & gloria! lol

I watched a lot of Hulu last summer, & after randomly clicking a little link, I discovered this gem of a festival. The casts, writers, creators, & producers from such hits as “The League”, “Modern Family”, “American Dad” & “Family Guy”, & “Once Upon a Time” & “Lost” have roundtable type Q&A sessions on a stage. They answer internet questions & questions from the audience (me!), and it seems just like being inside the audio commentary of your favorite DVDs.

I learned that 2 of the cast members of “The League” are married in real life, & discovered what it took to get that show, & many of the others present off the ground. The writers of the notoriously intricate “Lost”, & now “Once Upon a Time” (ABC’s new fairy tale hit) even give insights into their little hidden “easter eggs“, & answer questions about potential future characters! To actually be in that audience & sit talking to the cast of Modern Family?? Just thinking of it makes me giddy! & the fact that I could get any inside information about my shows, gets my geek juices bubblin, spoilers be damned!

Now, for the grand finale…

When I stumbled upon this event, just barely too late for this year, my jaw just dropped open.

As far as Fantasy Filled Geek Vacations, this one has it all:

Fantasy, Costumes, Beautiful accomodations, opulent food & bountiful drink, music, macabre, & a celebration of a cult classic & icon of geekery known the world over ~

♥#1. Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball in California♥

♥ Thats right, you read that correctly!

For one weekend a year, one of the most stunning hotels I’ve ever seen transforms itself into a masquerade fit for the Goblin King himself!

plaza 1

SO PRETTY! I’m getting married here, I swear!

Steampunk & sexyness dominate this elegant & extravagant affair that includes high teas, concerts, & of course, the masquerade itself.

The revelers are reported to celebrate everything from the steampunk style, to venitian & Celtic traditions, & of course, goblin & faerie lore. Some of the best fantasy & sci-fi artisits attend, & like the event itself, their work is a sight to behold!

masquerade

Are you not entertained??!! lol

The members of the “royal court” dress themselves to the nines, & the exhibitions from the different performers,studios, & artists present seem simply stunning!

royal court 2

The partying sounds awesome, but the chance to dress in an amazing costume and have a “Royal Evening Tea” in the “Clockwork Ballroom” is what I’m really looking forward to! The pictures & the memories will be amazing!

So there we have it! I hope you liked reading about the places I would go! :D…

If you won the lottery tomorrow, & had to leave the counry immedeatly, or lose it all, where would you go?