Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens announce plan to team up

The Historic Triangle's two largest tourist attractions announced Friday that they are teaming up.

Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Williamsburg released a joint television ad targeted at Spring Break business as the start of what the two attractions are calling "a year-round marketing and advertising partnership."

The TV spot shows a family divided over a spring break vacation destination until a Colonial Williamsburg interpreter and a Busch Gardens ride operator appear to convince them that Williamsburg has something for the whole family.

The spot, produced by Sway Creative Labs of Norfolk, will air in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. during the Grammy Awards telecast on CBS Monday. It will also appear on, on streaming site and on the websites of national family magazines such as Family Circle and Parents.

It follows years of collaboration between the two attractions.

"Our organizations have partnered on promotional efforts for roughly a decade. Work on the new co-branded initiative, which is an extension of that positive relationship, began in mid-2015," said Skip Ferebee, Colonial Williamsburg executive director of sales and business development.

The "co-branding" efforts include designating two of Colonial Williamsburg's hotels — the Williamsburg Lodge and Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites — as the official hotels of Busch Gardens.

"The region's attractions – and Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are just a few – offer days of fun and something for every member of the family," said Florencio Ferrao, Colonial Williamsburg vice president of hospitality. "The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts, and this new partnership combines some of our top attractions and amenities – including our award winning hotels – to attract visitors and encourage an extended stay."

The operators of Williamsburg's other hotels like the plan.

"Colonial Williamsburg is a member of the Hotel-Motel Association, they are on our board and anything that Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Garden can do together to bring more people to the destination, we applaud,' said Ron Kirkland, executive director of the Hotel-Motel Association. "We don't have any problem with Busch Gardens naming an official hotel. We wish they'd name a few more official Williamsburg hotels in place of those Virginia Beach hotels they do business with."

A few years back, there was talk of Busch Gardens going to a Disney resort business model, either buying a local hotel or building one. That could still be in play, despite Friday's announcement.

"There is nothing in our agreement with Colonial Williamsburg that precludes any future development on our part," Said Dan Dipiazzo, vice president of marketing for Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

An association between Busch Gardens and the Colonial Williamsburg hotels isn't totally new.

There was once a direct bus route from Busch Gardens to the Lodge; that service will return.

"The partnership will encompass advertising efforts, the designation of two Colonial Williamsburg properties as the official hotels of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA, as well as the return of the popular shuttle service between the attractions for the 2016 season," Dipiazzo said.

In fact, according to the two attractions, the new partnership grows out of the success of a past co-operative effort — the joint Bounce Ticket that offers seven days at Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

"We have always had cooperative programs with Colonial Williamsburg, but now we are taking our partnership to a whole new level," said Dipiazzo "We are both putting an unprecedented amount of resources behind this new effort, all for the goal of bringing more tourists to the destination. This is just another layer that complements our individual marketing programs and the Williamsburg destination campaign."

Tourism professionals see the collaboration as a positive thing.

"From a destination marketing organization perspective, we are pleased to see two of our attractions partnering to offer a vacation package for our visitors," said Karen Riordan, President & CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.

Reach Vaughan at 757-345-2343.


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