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February 5, 2013

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Reports 2012 Results

2012 Highlights
  • Donor support grows by 59 percent
  • Endowment tops $730 million
  • 37,000 guests play RevQuest: Save the Revolution
  • More than 1.5 million “turnstile” admissions
  • Paid admissions decrease three percent

    In a report issued today, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation described 2012 as a year in which extraordinary donor support underscored the importance of the Foundation’s mission and its relevance as a center for history and citizenship. Overall, 2012 gift commitments totaled $63.7 million, a 59 percent increase over 2011. More than 109,000 donors representing all 50 states contributed, with Virginians comprising 16 percent of all Colonial Williamsburg donors. Of these commitments, the Colonial Williamsburg Fund received $14.75 million in 2012, a two percent increase over 2011. More than 18,400 new donors chose to support Colonial Williamsburg for the first time in 2012.

    “Although the uncertain economic and political environment continues to present challenges, our supporters remain passionate about Colonial Williamsburg and our mission,” said Colin Campbell, Colonial Williamsburg’s president and CEO. “With enhancements to the Revolutionary City, a new RevQuest game, new positioning as a center for history and citizenship, new art exhibitions, guest speakers and music programs, Colonial Williamsburg remains relevant in a time when the lessons of history matter more than ever.”


    Colonial Williamsburg’s Regional Visitor Center welcomed 840,000 guests in 2012, with the admissions turnstile estimate calculated to be in excess of 1.5 million people. The turnstile number is based on the variety of ticket products sold: single-day, multi-day, annual pass holders’ return visit frequency and sales of special experience tickets. Ridership on Colonial Williamsburg’s buses was consistent with last year’s 1.6 million, benefiting the region with shuttle service to the other Historic Triangle sites of Historic Jamestowne, Busch Gardens, Jamestown and Yorktown.

    More than 200,000 people visited the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, making it one of the most visited in Virginia. More than 120,000 guests purchased evening program tickets – for 20 percent of these guests, evening programs were their sole purchase of a Colonial Williamsburg program experience. In its first full year, 37,000 guests played the new alternate reality game – RevQuest: Save the Revolution – and more than 7,000 people purchased tickets for concerts, lectures and special programs at venues ranging from the Kimball Theatre to the Virginia Room at the Williamsburg Lodge. More than 15,000 guests enjoyed “Salute to the Nation” on Palace Green on Friday evenings during July and August, and attendance during Grand Illumination exceeded 50,000 people, as calculated by Google mapping software.

    Colonial Williamsburg’s paid admissions declined three percent year to year, attributed to softness in summer visitation and exacerbated by severe weather in the fall that affected key tourist markets. The number of Good Neighbor passes increased by six percent, while school and youth group ticket sales remained flat compared with 2011. Non-paid visitation is estimated to be a minimum of 10 percent of total paid attendance, or nearly 65,000 guests. The board and management of the Foundation are intensely focused on the site’s challenges and opportunities and on the strategic positioning of Colonial Williamsburg as a center for history and citizenship as the institution and the destination look to grow in the 21st century.


    Colonial Williamsburg’s endowment ended the year with a value of $730 million and produced a total investment return of 13.1 percent for the year.

    The Guest Experience

    2012 was the first full year of the alternate reality series of games – RevQuest: Save the Revolution – enabling families to engage with each other, history and the Revolutionary City using historical riddles and text clues. “RevQuest: Sign of the Rhinoceros” was available for play during the spring season and attracted more than 8,300 participants trying to save the Revolution by solving a mystery and averting a crisis that could change the course of the war. The second game, “RevQuest: The Lion and The Unicorn” enthralled and challenged more than 28,000 summer guests as they strove to protect a patriot spy. The experience engaged participants online even before they arrived at the Regional Visitor Center to retrieve their game packet and meet “Agent 368.”

    Archaeological discoveries at the James Anderson Blacksmith and Public Armoury site confirmed the location of Anderson’s tinsmithing operation at the complex. Those discoveries inspired trustee Forrest Mars Jr. to provide support for reconstruction and endowment of the Revolutionary War-era tinsmith shop, adding to his underwriting of R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse and the Armoury. When complete, Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury will tell the story of the complexity and urgency of mounting a war effort against the world’s most powerful 18th-century empire.

    In 2012, the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg presented a new exhibition featuring the Foundation’s original 18th-century fire engine, including an event with the Williamsburg Fire Department. Other exhibitions featured tall case clocks; quilts from Baltimore and surrounding areas; American folk art portraits; “tramp art” or notched carved wooden objects; historical keyboard instruments and a new “Christmas in the Carolina Room” exhibition. The holiday season also brought Bassett Hall back to its 1940s seasonal best with a new portrayal of the Rockefellers’ Williamsburg home at Christmastime. During the year, Colonial Williamsburg added 300 new objects to the collections.

    As the Williamsburg Inn celebrated its 75th anniversary, U.S. News and World Report, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes Travel Guide, Virginia Living, Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, Meetings Focus South and Spa Finder recognized the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge, Colonial Houses, Golden Horseshoe Golf Club and the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg for excellence in 2012. Williamsburg Inn executive chef Travis Brust took first place in the Chef Challenge category at the inaugural World Food Championships held in November in Las Vegas. The Williamsburg Lodge is now the home of “Traditions,” serving classic Southern and Chesapeake cuisine prepared with regional ingredients and contemporary flair. Guests from throughout the world continue to include tavern dining as an integral part of their Colonial Williamsburg experience — last year the taverns served nearly 500,000 guests. The Williamsburg Lodge was the site of many historic meetings including the 2012 National Governors Association annual meeting, hosted by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

    Educational Outreach

    For the second year in a row, Colonial Williamsburg provided a Gift to the Nation with complimentary registration to 7,338 schools and families representing 1.87 million viewers for “The Will of the People.” This Emmy-award-winning electronic field trip examines the presidential election of 1800, one of the most bitter in U.S. history. For the year-long series of electronic field trips, an estimated six million viewers nationally and internationally participated. In its 23rd year, Colonial Williamsburg’s Teacher Institute and Teacher Development conferences served 1,441 teachers from American Samoa and 35 states in conferences and workshops on- and off-site. Altogether, Teacher Development programs have touched approximately 16,500 teachers since inception.


    The first phase of the new and revised website launched in 2012. Visits to the site grew by 49 percent year-over year, and the number of new visitors increased by 67 percent. The website is a critical business tool intended to increase revenue and develop Colonial Williamsburg’s e-commerce platform. In the next phase, which launches this spring, the website will include a new shopping cart that will allow hotel bookings and ticket purchases in one step — an important feature designed to enhance the on-site guest experience and increase revenue. The number of Facebook fans grew by 39 percent, while referrals to Colonial Williamsburg’s website coming directly from Facebook grew by 26 percent. Twitter followers grew by nearly 60 percent in the last 12 months. Visits to all Colonial Williamsburg websites totaled 9.02 million, up 14 percent over 2011.

    Partnerships and Special Events

    Colonial Williamsburg’s collaboration with Preservation Virginia at Historic Jamestowne continued to forge closer links between the two sites, support world-class archaeology at Jamestowne and provide opportunities for new, integrated programs. Partnerships with the Virginia Arts Festival, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Williamsburg Symphonia and An Occasion for the Arts expanded arts opportunities for guests and local residents. Colonial Williamsburg and the Virginia Symphony expanded their partnership to support new cultural events in the community, including an inaugural concert on Palace Green on the Fourth of July, with JoAnn Falleta conducting the symphony. A new partnership with the Sorenson Institute brought emerging Virginia political leaders to the Revolutionary City in August.

    The sesquicentennial of the Civil War was observed in 2012, with Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area hosting a Civil War encampment in May commemorating the Battle of Williamsburg. Civil War walking tours throughout the year allowed guests to encounter people from the period and learn about Williamsburg during the war years and the linkages between the Revolutionary and Civil War eras. In May, 3,806 runners participated in the second annual Run for the Dream in Williamsburg to benefit Achievable Dream and Wounded Warriors.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a center for history and citizenship, is a not-for-profit educational institution and cultural destination. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting the importance of an informed, active citizenry. Its mission, “that the future may learn from the past,” is realized through offering innovative, imaginative and interactive experiences – both on- and off-site – designed to educate guests about the importance of the American Revolution. From the RevQuest: Save the Revolution! series of technology-assisted alternate reality games, to the theatrical programming of Revolutionary City®, guests can become immersed in the drama of the American Revolution and discover the ongoing relevance of the past. Guests can also visit the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, enjoy the many gardens and green spaces, and visit up to 35 historic sites. To experience all that the Foundation offers, guests may stay in one of the five award-winning Colonial Williamsburg hotels and enjoy the renowned golf courses of the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, indulge in The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg and shop in 40 stores. Fine dining is offered in more than 20 locations from historic dining taverns to restaurants with contemporary fare. Colonial Williamsburg is open 365 days a year. A full schedule of programs and special events can be found by visiting

    Media Contact:
    Sally McConnell

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