June 1, 2004
Enhanced, interactive CW website enables potential guests, armchair historians to plan their vacations and sample onsite experiences without leaving home
Tour the Town, an animated, interactive map created for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's resource-rich and recently enhanced website, brings the restored 18th-century city's Historic Area to life online with the sights and sounds of America of the eve of the Revolution.
For the first time, web users now can take a virtual tour of the Governor’s Palace, learn about historic trades shops and listen to Patrick Henry protest against the Stamp Act at Virginia's reconstructed 1700s Capitol. Robyn Eoff, the foundation's director of the Internet, said these new features convey the excitement and intensity of the colonies as independence approached. “We deliver 18th-century history using a 21st-century medium and the recent enhancements to the website provide an exciting and engaging element to visiting Colonial Williamsburg online,” she said. “The challenge is to stay true to the colonial content as it is presented to a modern, worldwide audience.”
The Tour the Town map at www.ColonialWilliamsburg.org/visit/tourthetown appeals to the broadest spectrum of virtual visitors, from teachers looking for the engaging instructional resources to individuals planning a Colonial Williamsburg vacation.
As users make their way down a digitized version of Duke of Gloucester Street, they encounter one of the towns where America began. With the click of a mouse, cannons fire at the Magazine. Guests can roll their cursor over one of the Leicester Longwool sheep on the map and hear what the animal sounds like. By clicking on the Courthouse photo, guests will hear the call to order. Signature buildings in the Historic Area include an audio clip that discusses the timeline of events in America involving the exhibition building.
After taking the animated Historic Area tour, Eoff said potential guests can save information about sites they would like to see when they visit. “The ‘My Visit’ itinerary prepares guests for visits, giving them descriptions of events and programs and a calendar of dates and times,” she said. Working hand-in-hand with the itinerary system is a link to the Weather Channel’s website. Guests can check online the daily local weather forecast or the 10-day weather forecast before they travel to Colonial Williamsburg.
Guests also can send an electronic “wish you were here” message to friends through the new electronic postcard function. They can select an image from Historic Buildings, Holidays, Outdoor Scenes, Street Scenes and Rare Breeds and e-mail it to friends anywhere. “It’s a popular feature,” Eoff said. “In the first three weeks we sent out 400-500 postcards.”
The enhanced website provides other useful resources for guests, including: