Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into the world of the legendary Elvis Presley? Join me on a thrilling adventure as I recount my unforgettable visit to Graceland, the iconic home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. From the moment I arrived, the spirit of Elvis was everywhere, captivating my senses and immersing me in his incredible legacy.
As I approached the Memphis airport, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The Guest House at Graceland’s shuttle, adorned with images of Elvis himself, was a sight to behold. Accompanied by my supportive wife, who had graciously joined me on this journey, I knew this would be an experience like no other.
A Decade of Change
Memphis was not new to me, but my last visit was ten years ago for the Elvis Expo. Back then, I had merely scratched the surface of Graceland, opting for the standard tour of Elvis’ home. However, recent developments along Elvis Presley Boulevard drew me back in 2018. The opening of The Guest House in 2016 and “Elvis Presley’s Memphis,” a massive 200,000 square foot entertainment and museum complex, intrigued me enough to plan a second pilgrimage.
A Pilgrimage in Style
This time, I was determined not to cut corners. I wanted to experience everything Graceland had to offer. That meant staying at The Guest House, exploring Graceland, and immersing myself in the new Elvis museum. I chose to avoid the crowded Elvis Week and its higher room rates, opting for a more intimate and luxurious experience.
All Aboard the Elvis Emersion
As I boarded the shuttle to The Guest House, Elvis music softly played, setting the tone for the days to come. From the hotel’s public areas to Graceland itself, the melodic tunes were a constant companion. It seemed as if Elvis’ spirit infused every corner of this extraordinary place.
The Elvis Touch
One thing that struck me during my stay was the impeccable courtesy of the staff. From the airport shuttle driver to every employee at The Guest House and Graceland, their attentiveness mirrored Elvis’ own mannerisms. It was like stepping back in time, where the traditions of addressing people as ‘mam’ and ‘sir’ were upheld with utmost respect.
The Guest House at Graceland: An Oasis Fit for the King
While The Guest House was elegantly designed, it tastefully balanced Elvis’ presence with refined grace. Framed images of iconic Presley symbols adorned the halls and guest rooms, subtly paying homage to the King without overwhelming guests. Our room featured a stunning artist’s rendering of Elvis’ gold lamé suit, adding a touch of glamour to our stay.
The hotel had a range of Elvis-themed activities for guests to enjoy. One such delight was the nightly movie or TV special screening in The Guest House Theater. We indulged in the Monday evening classic, “Viva Las Vegas,” transporting us back to the golden age of Elvis on the silver screen. The hotel also treated us to the “Peanut Butter & Jelly Station” in the lobby, a nod to Elvis’ late-night cravings. Sliced bananas and other toppings were available for guests to create their own Elvis-inspired sandwiches.
The Graceland Tour: A Graceful Journey
After a satisfying breakfast at Delta’s Kitchen, we hopped on the hotel shuttle for our scheduled Graceland tour. The ticket office, located right across the street, felt like the gateway to a magical world. As we climbed the steps, we were greeted by a spacious and modern facility, a significant upgrade from my last visit. The ticket options had also expanded, catering to visitors’ preferences and budgets.
Exploring the Mansion
No matter which ticket you choose, the Graceland tour begins with a short video introduction. As we made our way to the mansion, we were equipped with iPads for a self-guided tour narrated by actor John Stamos. Although some guests struggled with the technology, I was fortunate to have my computer-savvy wife by my side, ensuring we made the most of the interactive experience.
Unveiling the Secrets of Graceland
As I wandered through Elvis’ beloved home, familiar yet transformed, I couldn’t help but notice the changes. Many of the archival items, such as the gold lamé suit and gold records, were moved to the museum complex across the street. The handball court, once filled with jumpsuits, had been restored to its original state, offering a glimpse into the final night Elvis played there. However, one exhibit that remained in the mansion impressed me the most—the detailed double hallway showcasing the history of Graceland, featuring photos, documents, and artifacts dating back to Elvis’ purchase of the property in 1957.
Vernon’s Office: A Glimpse into History
The highlight of my visit was stepping into Vernon’s office, an area I had read about in Becky Yancey’s book. Imagining the lively anecdotes of Elvis shooting at the nearby wellhouse, I marveled at the connection to the past. The Graceland tour concluded in the Meditation Garden, where visitors are welcome to reflect and pay their respects to Elvis, Gladys, Vernon, and Minnie Mae.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis: The Ultimate Elvis Fan’s Neverland
Exiting Graceland, I was eager to explore “Elvis Presley’s Memphis,” the expansive museum that had drawn me back to Memphis. The exhibits weren’t scattered randomly; they formed a cohesive journey within a large L-shaped structure. From the “Presley Motors Automobile Museum” featuring iconic vehicles to the immersive “Elvis the Entertainer Museum,” every corner paid tribute to the King’s unparalleled career.
From Cars to Fashion: A Celebration of Elvis’ Influence
While the “Fashion King Exhibit” showcased Elvis’ personal wardrobe, the real highlight was the “Elvis the Entertainer Museum.” With posters of each of his 33 films, videos of his electrifying performances, and a dazzling display of gold record awards, this museum was a dream come true for any Elvis enthusiast. It celebrated the King’s impact on popular culture and cemented his status as a global icon.
A Tapestry of Elvisian Treasures
As I journeyed through the remaining exhibits, I marveled at the depth of Elvis’ influence. The “Private Presley” exhibit offered a glimpse into his army years, while the “Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley” showcased figures who claimed inspiration from the King. The “Elvis the Entertainer Museum” continued to dazzle, with its comprehensive coverage of every aspect of Elvis’ career.
Reflections and Farewells
As the day drew to a close, I planned to relax and watch an Elvis movie in the new Soundstage A theater. Unfortunately, it was unexpectedly closed, prompting us to explore Elvis’ airplanes instead. While the tour was brief, it allowed us to glimpse a part of Elvis’ private world.
A Journey Worth Every Penny
My visit to Graceland was an investment I would gladly make again. The Guest House provided a comfortable and convenient base from which to explore, and the Graceland tour and Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibits surpassed my expectations. As an aging Elvis fan, I cherish the memories I made during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you, too, are yearning to immerse yourself in the world of the King, I invite you to embark on your own Graceland adventure.