April 22, 2008
CW Visitor Center debuts new guest orientation video
The Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center features a new Historic Area orientation video to help guests better plan their visit. The approximately 7-minute presentation is the centerpiece of a new guest orientation initiative that includes a more user-friendly weekly map and program guide and suggested itineraries for Historic Area guests.
“We found that guests wanted more direction in planning their visit,” said Gary Brumfield, who chaired Colonial Williamsburg’s guest orientation task force, which oversaw production of the new video. First-time visitors are often surprised by the size of the Historic Area and the vast array of programs offered each day. “The orientation presentation, the revised weekly schedule of events, and the new itineraries all streamline the orientation process, making it easier for guests to quickly and easily locate the programs that most interest them.”
A major component of the new orientation video is an animated map of the Historic Area. Prominent landmarks such as the Governor’s Palace and the Capitol are used as location markers, helping guests keep their bearings no matter where in the Historic Area they are. The approximate distance and walking time from the Palace to the Capitol is provided, as is the route from the Visitor Center to the Historic Area. An animated display of Red and Blue Line bus routes allows guests to navigate Colonial Williamsburg’s shuttle system. An overview of exhibition buildings; shopping and dining locations; and how to find restrooms, vending machines and other “discreetly located” 21st-century amenities also is included.
The video’s map mirrors the one appearing in the “Colonial Williamsburg This Week” Map and Program Guide, which guests can use along with the weekly schedule of events to plan their visit. “The orientation video can be thought of as a user’s guide to ‘Colonial Williamsburg This Week,’” said Brumfield. By creating the video to complement a guide that guests can carry with them into the Historic Area, Colonial Williamsburg hopes guests can maximize their time enjoying the sites and programs they wish to see.
Also available for guests to take with them are two themed itinerary maps. A guide for first-time visitors features eight highly recommended sites. Those interested in 18th-century work and trades can pick up a map which highlights such sites as the gunsmith, cabinetmaker and blacksmith shops. The approximate time for touring each site is provided, and like the “This Week” guide, the itinerary maps are designed to complement the one seen in the orientation video.
Not merely a geographical orientation, the video also introduces guests to the different styles of costumed interpretation they will encounter. Clips of various actors, guides and artisans in action identify interpreters who remain “in character” and those who offer a present-day perspective. Daily program highlights display times and locations of some of the more popular events, including clips of the day’s Revolutionary City® presentations.
Because the orientation video was created with Microsoft PowerPoint, this section can easily be updated to reflect the latest in new programming and schedule changes. “We’ve already updated the video twice since it debuted in March,” said Brumfield. “The ability to quickly insert new photos and information ensures the orientation video will remain current. It will be an ever-evolving project.”
Guest response to the orientation video has been extremely positive. In addition to its current home at the Visitor Center, Brumfield hopes eventually to have the video running at the Gateway Building, as well as a modified version for Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site and hotel television channel.
Colonial Williamsburg acknowledges the generous support of the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation in Richmond, Va., which helped fund the new guest orientation initiatives.
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” – a daily dramatic live street theater presentation – is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.history.org.
Michael E. Crandol