About Us

As the original mystery travel provider, we’ve been planning mystery vacations since 2009 and have been featured in numerous local and national media outlets, including O, the Oprah Magazine; The Wall Street Journal; The Washington Post; Vogue; The New York Times; Good Housekeeping; Travel + Leisure; and AFAR.

Magical Mystery Tours was officially born in 2009 when founders Denise Chaykun and Stephanie Whitesel booked a surprise vacation for a busy friend who needed a break, but didn’t have time to research and plan a trip.

The conditions: He would provide travel dates, a budget, some basic parameters, and his credit card information…and his destination would be a secret until he arrived at the airport.

The trip was a hit, and with that, Magical Mystery Tours was born as the first mystery travel company! Ever since then, our goal has been to provide customers with enjoyable, individually customized, and care-free vacation experiences.

Meet the Team


Owner and Lead Travel Consultant
Although Magical Mystery Tours has been in the business of surprise vacations for more than a decade, the story starts even earlier for Katie. In 1997, her dad planned a Christmas getaway for the family and kept the destination and all activities a surprise. Weeks in advance, mysterious red envelopes began arriving in the mail with clues about the destination, the weather, what should be on the packing list, and what activities were in store. And then, early in the morning on departure day, the family piled in the car and set off for an unknown locale, keeping an eye on road signs throughout the journey. By that evening, they had arrived…in Nashville! The trip was such a success that it became an annual tradition, leading to many of Katie’s favorite family memories. Now, Katie uses her background in mystery travel and her own travel experience to plan surprise getaways for customers and help them create unique and treasured vacation memories of their own.


Travel Consultant
Stephanie got bit by the travel bug after her semester abroad during college. As a result, her journeys have brought her to five continents and every time zone in the world. Preoccupied with saving money on her travels, her e-mail got clogged with discount travel alerts and she joined Twitter for its exclusive travel deals. Stephanie grew up in Massachusetts, yet has no trace of a Boston accent. She has degrees in Psychology and Child Development from Bucknell and Tufts. Her other interests include cheering on the Red Sox, cooking, encouraging her husband to consider vacations other than Disneyworld, and mentoring teenagers. Currently, her dream trips include Australia, the Azores, and a Mediterranean cruise.