Magic Walking Tours, a creation by Richard Rochester are historical tours with a bit of mysterious theater, plus a ghost ... More
Magic Walking Tours
Magic Walking Tours, a creation by Richard Rochester are historical tours with a bit of mysterious theater, plus a ghost story or two thrown in. There are several tours daily: Saint Louis Cemetery Number One, the French Quarter, the Garden District, the Voodoo Tour, and the Vampire and Ghost Hunt Walking Tour. Reservations are not necessary, but do call ahead for a schedule as they are subject to change. Meeting places vary.
My husband and I went to New Orleans for our Anniversary and wanted to learn a bit about the area. We were recommended by a Tourist Info women to take the Ghosts, Voodoo and Haunts Tour and our Guide was Walter. I have been reading other reviews and I disagree with how rude they say he was. He was definitely informative, which is what I like and he certainly told corny jokes. He did ask everyone not to put their feet up on the building and poles but in an area with such old and treasured architecture I don't see anything wrong with that. I felt that the tour was informative and interesting and I'd recommend this tour (and tour guide) to anyone who is interested in the getting the real fact about New Orleans and the French Quarter. If anything I might ask for a little more on the ghosts/hauntings but it wasn't specifically a ghost tour so can't complain.
I did the "Ghost, Voodoo, and Vampires" walking tour. Our guide, Walter, was horrible. He spent the first 15 minutes lecturing the rules. He was very rude about asking people not to put their feet on the wall; throughout the tour he treated people who did this very unprofessionally. I work in the service industry and there are better ways to handle this. The tour had intriguing stories of new orleans colorful past, but these stories were marred by the guide and his presentation. He had bad jokes that he attempted to repeat continuously - one of which consisted holding one of his patrons out in the street to try to get them hit by a car. The breaks were at two bars that had no talking points or history, just bars. In a city know for its contributions to cocktail, It would have been great to stop in bar that contributed to that history or perhaps had a dark past. The worst thing about the tour guide was his lack of concern when he lost a party of four (out of 20 - that is 20%) after 30 minutes into the tour because they did not want to deal with his rudeness. We had only stopped at one place. I have done other walking tours (one in New Orleans with another company) and had enjoyable times. I would not go on this tour or use this tour company again.
In the morning we took a tour around the French Quarter with Randy (who is mentioned several times in other reviews as being a guide with Magic Tours, but actually he currently works for Historic New Orleans Tours!). He was delightful, funny, wonderfully flamboyant, and had a lifelong historian's eye for detail. He told us that he did not recount anything as fact unless he had seen the original documents, and he pointed out -- in a humorous rather than mean-spirited way -- the mistakes commonly repeated by other local tour guides and carriage drivers. Admittedly, he set the bar high for quality. In hindsight, we should have right then booked a haunted tour with Historic N.O. Tours then (and asked for Randy if possible), but we had already taken the advice of a couple at the hotel who had taken the tour a night before with Magic Tours. They said they had had a great tour guide around the Garden District, so we had already called and made reservations with Magic too. Perhaps we had a different guide than that couple (?). I hate to diss our Magic tour guide, Sam, but I do have to say that his heart just didn't seem to be in it at all. He said he was a N.O. city ranger by day -- which could have meant that he really knew and cared a lot about the city. This didn't seem to be the case. He didn't have a comprehensive knowledge of the city (the kind of three-dimensionality that Randy brought to our tour) -- or if he did, he sure didn't show it. We spent at least 5 minutes discussing the rules -- leaving enough room on the side walks, stopping the tour promptly at 10 PM, etc. We also spent about 10 minutes wordlessly walking to the first site. In the middle of our tour he stopped us for 15 minutes at a bar so he could have a cigarette break and we could enjoy libations -- honestly, it was around 45 degrees out that night and no one wanted a Hurricane, but it seemed apparent that he got some kickback from the bar for bringing a captive audience there. He also stopped the tour a few minutes before 10 -- so this tour was easily half an hour less than advertised. Sam seemed so rehearsed and studied, turning on the dramatic hand flourishes and a booming voice at specific moments in the tour -- I know that there must be a good amount of repetition that comes with being a tour guide and that of course it's natural to reuse the schtick that works, but Sam was just wooden. His appeals for tips at the end was also pretty pushy -- I can forgive that if the tour is pretty good, but not when he was so mediocre. I guess Historic New Orleans Tours, on the other hand, must just have a great thing going with the guides they employ. After getting burned by Sam with Magic Tours, a couple days later we went back to Historic New Orleans Tours for the Garden District/Cemetery Tour. Randy wasn't available, but we had Jane instead -- and she was amazing. Once again, her knowledge of the area -- and of the people who had lived there in the 18th and 19th centuries and their culture -- was so deep and nuanced. Both she and Randy also gave great insights into the city today. Between Randy's tour of the French Quarter and Jane's tour of the Garden (American) District, I felt like I was left with a deeper and richer understanding of the city as a whole. I guess two out of three ain't bad -- but next time I will definitely look up Historic N.O. Tours and go with Randy and Jane! By the way, neither Jane nor Randy asked for customers to sing their praises as I have just done -- while in contrast Sam said, "If I did I good job, call my boss and tell him you liked Sam. But if I didn't do a good job, call everyone and say you didn't like . . . Bob." No, it wasn't funny, but it did underscore the difference in quality between these companies.
We chose this tour because of other reviews as we weren't intersted in costumes and theatrics, but did expect it to be a little intertaining. This is a 90 min tour and after 30 min we only got as far as the river and a histry of the river in a monotone practiced speach. I told the guide "Tim" we found this boring and not what we paid for, when are we getting to the haunted part?. He told us that maybe we should take the Hounted History Tour and gave us our money back. I guess we should have asked for Randy.
John Odell Las Vegas, Nv 05/10/08
My sister and I did a walking tour of the protestant cematary in the Garden District. The guide was fantastically knowledgeable and really accommodating. We even took him to lunch afterward. It's astounding how much of the history of the place it's cemataries contain.
This tour guide company is a head above the rest. The guides care about New Orleans, and have a tremendous knowledge and respect for its varied history. They can help you reach below the glitzy surface, to begin to explore the true roots of its cultural richness. The ghost tour is a great way to get a feel for the city's history in a way that is entertaining for the whole family. The guide (Randy) was extremely helpful in making wonderful, out of the way recommendations for our whole stay. Not to be missed!
We go to Mardi Gras every year and have been on several tours. The Magic Walking Tours was a wonderful company. We go during Mardi Gras and the traffic and parades can be a challange to get places. We showed up about 15 minutes late. We asked a man outside the coffee shop if he knew where the address was to meet up for the tour. He kindly answered that we were at the right place and that his name was Randy our tour guide. Not only did he wait for us we were the only people on the tour. This was no problem for Randy he still gave a very informative tour. He is very pleasant and has great knowledge of New Orleans history. I feel we have a friend now and forever. Next time we go back to New Orleans you bet Magic Walking Tours will be on our TO DO list and Randy will of course be the only tour guide we will request.
I took the Haunted Tour and our guide was very professional and seemed knowledgeable and genuine. It was a lot of fun hearing some spooky stories while meandering through the streets of the French Quarter on a sultry evening in summer. Open to lots of questions, the guide's responses sounded educated. The French Quarter is alive and well and is one of the major anchors that will hold the greater city of New Orleans together during its recovery. I happily recommend New Orleans as a vacation destination and I recommend you take this tour with Magic Walking Tours.
My husband and daughter and I went to New Orleans to see what was left after the hurricane. Surprisingly, despite the media's grossly exaggerated reports, the French Quarter is perfectly intact with no visible change (other than fewer people out on the streets since our pre-Katrina visits). We decided to take a tour and our daughter (who is 9) wanted a ghost tour. She was a little nervous about it (as were we, as she gets easily spooked) and the woman at the hotel desk suggested Magic Walking Tours. We told her we didn't want blood and guts and gore and no costumed tour guides. (We'd taken Haunted History's tour, once, finding it entirely too hokey, too camped up and our tour guide demanded - DEMANDED - a gratuity!) She couldn't have suggested a better tour company!
Our tour guide's name was Randy and he was amazing! His knowlege of the city and its history as well as his ability to inform us in an entertaining way had us captivated from the very first. What made his tour different from most is that he took us to haunted locations that are open to the public (restaurants, museums, etc.), told us what had been reported and the stories behind the hauntings. The freakiest was the gold hallway at Muriel's restaurant. He told us about it, pointed it out to us from the street and the next day we went to see for ourselves. Even the most diehard skeptic would walk away wondering after seeing it!
We loved it so much we did a cemetery tour with Randy before we left. (If you think you know about the cemeteries in New Orleans - trust me...YOU DON'T! Randy will absolutely stun you with the way it all works!) We recommend Magic Walking Tours (ask for RANDY) and plan to tour with them each time we return to New Orleans.
The people are very nice and they have conversations with you, unlike in some of the cities that I have visited.
The food is excellent.
The historic sites are very interesting.
The cost of living is very reasonable.
Although the Hurricanes have had a great impact to the city, New Orleans is going to be allright.
I would recommend a visit to everyone.
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