Saving money in Williamsburg

Our expert offers advice on family deals at the colonial attraction, plus safety in Indonesia, smoke-free Vegas and hot-air balloons.

Donald D. Groff
June 17, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Our family of four is planning to visit Williamsburg, Va. -- do you know of any
special deals or passes we can take advantage of for hotel and admissions?

Colonial Williamsburg has teamed up with several
other historic and not-so-historic attractions to offer the Revolutionary
Funpass. It allows unlimited admission to Colonial Williamsburg, Busch
Gardens Williamsburg, Water Country USA, Jamestown Settlement and the
Yorktown Victory Center. A four-day pass costs $96 for adults, $71 for
children 6 to 12. A five-day pass costs $115.95 for adults, $92.95 for
children 6 to 12. Children under 6 are admitted at no charge. Parking is
included in those rates.


Colonial Williamsburg also offers a Revolutionary Fun Package that includes
admission and lodging; the typical price of a four-day/three-night vacation
for a family of four is $702, plus taxes. Go to the Colonial Williamsburg
site and click on hotels and restaurants, then under places to stay, look for "packages."

For simple admission, Colonial Williamsburg offers three types of passes:

  • Basic pass: One-day pass includes orientation walk and admission to
    historic area exhibition buildings, trade sites, the capitol, the courthouse,
    the DeWitt Wallace Gallery and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center.
    (It does not include the Governor's Palace, the wheelwright, Carter's
    Grove or Bassett Hall.) The cost is $27 for adults, $16 for children ages 6
    to 12.

  • Colonist's pass. Two-day pass costs $31 for adults, $18 for children ages
    6 to 12. It includes the
    orientation walk, all of the historic area exhibition buildings, the
    Governor's Palace, the capitol, the courthouse, and trade sites, as well as
    the DeWitt Wallace Gallery and the
    Abby Rockefeller Folk Art Center. Not included are Carter's Grove and
    Bassett Hall.

  • Patriot's pass. Good for one year, it costs $35 for adults and $20 for
    children ages 6 to 12. Besides the sites included with the other passes, it
    allows admission into all of the celebrated 18th-century homes open to the
    public, including the Peyton Randolph House, the George Wythe House and
    Carter's Grove. And you can wander into any of the colonial trade sites. The
    Patriot's Pass also provides a 20 percent discount off ticketed evening
    programs such as concerts, special candlelight tours, plays and reenactments.

    There also are seasonal packages, which can be found on the Web site or by
    calling Colonial Williamsburg at (800) 541-2225.

    Besides Colonial Williamsburg, there's a Williamsburg site that includes a lodging guide and descriptions of
    all there is to see and do in the area.

    I'm planning a trip to Indonesia. I understand that Bali is always safe,
    but what about other parts -- Sulawesi and Lombok in particular?

    Lombok and Sulawesi have not made the U.S. State Department notices that call
    attention to demonstrations or violence, but would-be visitors should
    continue to monitor the advisories because the Indonesian political situation
    remains unsteady.

    A June 11 State Department announcement says: "On June 7, 1999, Indonesia held peaceful parliamentary elections in most parts of the country. However, the political and
    economic situation remains unsettled and will likely continue to be so as the election results become known, political
    coalitions are formed, and a new president is selected before the end of 1999. Demonstrations and unrest are possible
    throughout Indonesia in coming months. American citizens should consider carefully whether to travel to Indonesia during
    this period. Those who do should exercise prudence and common sense, and avoid demonstrations and other situations
    that could turn violent."

    Adventurers and many independent travelers will regard that advice as
    overcautious; others will consider it reason enough to go to Thailand instead.

    As for Bali, I've noticed a slippage in assurances that there is no risk
    there. The June 11 notice now says "although demonstrations in Bali have not affected tourists, serious unrest has occurred in isolated areas and is possible
    elsewhere on the island."

    For a different perspective, check the travel reports posted by the British
    Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Regarding Bali, it says simply: "There have been a few minor incidents in
    Bali, but tourism has not been affected."

    The British Indonesia advisory includes: "British nationals are advised not to travel to Ambon and Maluku Province or
    to West Kalimantan (West Borneo) which has been subject to serious rioting
    and violence recently. Non-essential travel should be deferred to the area
    around Lhokseumawe (North Aceh) where there have been violent clashes.
    Particular care should be taken in Irian Jaya where an independence
    movement is active. The situation in East Timor is volatile and potentially
    dangerous. We advise British nationals to defer all non-essential travel to
    this area. Permits are required from the police to travel to Irian Jaya
    (except Jayapura and Biak) and East Timor.

    "The economic crisis, sudden unemployment and deprivation are hitting
    Indonesia hard. This has led to an increase in street violence. There has
    also been ethnic and religious rioting. British nationals are advised to
    remain vigilant, monitor the television and radio news and keep clear of
    crowds. Up-to-date advice can be accessed via the home page of the British Embassy in Jakarta."

    I'm interested in doing Las Vegas with as little cigarette smoke exposure as
    possible. What are my chances of success?

    Smoking remains commonplace in Vegas, but the odds for nonsmokers have
    improved in the showrooms, hotels and restaurants.

    In early 1991, the Silver City Casino became the first Vegas casino to adopt
    a no-smoking policy, but it didn't last. Even so, many of the city's
    resort-casinos have taken less-drastic steps in that direction.

    The big resort hotels accommodate nonsmokers with entire floors of no-smoking
    rooms; all you have to do is ask. Smoking is generally prohibited in the
    showrooms. In the dining rooms the host always has just two questions: "How
    many in your party?" and "Smoking or non?"

    Although some of the casinos have space devoted to nonsmokers, the casino
    floor is where nonsmokers have the hardest time avoiding fumes. It seems
    like every time I've sat down at a video poker machine, some
    cigarette-puffing patron parks right next to me. The Nevada Casino Dealers
    Association has been pursuing a class action on
    behalf of nonsmoking dealers. What's worse for nonsmokers is that cigars
    have a greater presence than ever, and the cigar smokers embrace this freedom
    with a vengeance.

    For statistics on air quality inside a casino in 1995, check out a report on casino
    in the travel section of the Los Angeles Times.

    Where can I get information on sizable hot-air balloon events in the United

    The giant of the hot-air balloon world is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
    scheduled for Oct. 2-10. Last year an
    astounding 873 balloons took part in this event.

    Scores of hot-air balloon festivals occur each year, but you'll find that
    many of them have 20 or fewer balloons. Organizers tell me that corporate
    sponsors of balloons -- those that emblazon their logos on the balloons'
    bulging sides -- don't like to have too many in one rally. They don't want
    their message to get lost in the crowd.

    For a schedule of rallies around the United States this year, visit the Hot
    Air Balloons USA
    Web site.

  • Donald D. Groff

    Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

    MORE FROM Donald D. Groff

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