Last week, I checked one more thing off my bucket list — visiting Graceland! I was in Memphis to speak at the PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference and our hosts were able to arrange an after-hours private tour for our group of 300 travel professionals. Following the hour-long audio tour, they had a party next door to Graceland in the Elvis Presley Car Museum. The whole evening was a lot of fun and I especially enjoyed checking out Elvis’ private jet.
Below I’ve included photos and the highlights:
- Graceland is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Memphis.
- Our bus dropped us off at a shopping center plaza across the street from the mansion, which used to have stores selling bootleg Elvis memorabilia.
- In 1983, through a long-term lease, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) acquired the plaza and waited until everyone’s lease ran out in 1987 before creating Graceland Plaza. This is where Graceland’s visitor parking and Elvis airplanes are located, as well as the Elvis Car Museum and a ton of gift shops.
- Once you have your ticket, you jump on a shuttle bus to take you across the street to Elvis’ Graceland Mansion and its over 13-acre grounds.
- Lisa Marie Presley owns 100% of it and her father’s personal effects – meaning costumes, wardrobe, awards, furniture, cars, etc.
- Before getting on the shuttle bus everyone is handed a portable player for audio-guided tour, which features commentary and stories by Elvis and his daughter Lisa Marie.
- The upstairs of Graceland Mansion is off limits as well as the rooms but guests can walk the hallways and see where Elvis lived, relaxed and spent time with his friends and family.
- The tour includes Elvis’ living room, music room, parents’ bedroom, dining room, kitchen and the famous Jungle Room. Downstairs is the TV room and pool room.
- One of stairwells is mirrored and the other has green wall-to-wall shag carpet.
- Everyone exits out the back door and gets to see Vernon Presley’s (Elvis’ dad) office and Elvis’ racquetball building (it’s now filled with plaques and memorabilia).
- There’s also a building dedicated to Elvis’ trophies and his amazing collection of gold and platinum records, as well as other great memorabilia like his movie and wedding wardrobe.
- There’s also a section dedicated to his charitable endeavors.
- The final stop on the tour of Graceland Mansion is the Meditation Garden where Elvis and members of his family are buried. I had no idea he was buried there so it was a real downer. Elvis died at Graceland on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42.
- Once you are done with the tour, you hop back on the shuttle to go across the street and check out the other museums, gift shops and Elvis’ Custom Jets. Visitors can climb aboard and tour Elvis’s main jet, which was a 1958 Convair 880 named Lisa Marie. It features a living room, conference room, sitting room, and private bedroom, as well as gold-plated seat belts, suede chairs, leather covered tables, 24-karat gold-flecked sinks and more.
- The tail has TCB and a lightning rod painted on it, which stands for Taking Care of Business in a Flash.
- Next to it is Elvis’ smaller Lockheed Jet Star that was primarily used for taking Elvis’ manager and his staff from city to city on his concert tours.
- Also located in the Graceland Plaza is the Elvis Presley Car Museum. It’s an additional entry fee and has a tree-lined street to see over 33 vehicles owned by Elvis. The highlights include his famous Pink Cadillac, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Stutz Blackhawks, a 1975 Dino Ferrari, a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, the red MG from Blue Hawaii, 6-door Mercedes Benz limousine, Elvis’ John Deere 4010 tractor and more.
- Graceland has over 600,000 visitors each year so it’s one of the five most visited home tours in the United States. It’s second only to The White House.
- Peak season for visiting Graceland is Memorial Day through Labor Day.
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