Why today’s Graceland is worth the price of admission for most tourists
If you are part of the legion of Elvis fans who have visited Graceland three or four times since it opened to the public in 1982, but you haven’t seen the spacious new exhibition halls at what is now known as Elvis Presley’s Memphis, it’s time to plan another trip.
The expanded complex provides enough new entertaining content that even those who are not fervent Elvis fans should find plenty of ways to enjoy it.
Some have playfully called the entertainment complex “Six Flags over Elvis.” Across the street from the Presley home, new halls opened in 2017 and the complex now features gift shops, restaurants, snack bars and four or more very spacious museums. New exhibits were featured in 2021 and 2022, and others will be featured in 2023 and 2024, so true fans can easily justify visiting again and again.
NOTE: You can visit the Meditation Garden where Elvis and his family are laid to rest for free early on most mornings before paying visitors begin arriving. It’s just steps away from the house. Just come to the famous gate between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.
A large percentage of visitors to Graceland in 2022 and 2023 will purchase the Elvis Experience Tour for a base price of $77 per person. A tour choice that typically takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to complete, it includes the following:
- A Graceland Mansion audio-guided tour
- A self-guided tour of two airplanes
- Full access to the Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex
Mid-sized shuttle buses transport visitors back and forth across the highway. Highlights of the Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex include ...
- The Presley Motors Automobile Museum
- Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
- Private Presley: Elvis in the Army
- ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley
Other exhibits currently include Presley Cycles, the Elvis Interactive Experience, the Elvis: Dressed to Rock exhibit, the Tupelo exhibit, the Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley exhibit, the Hollywood Backlot exhibit, the Welcome to My World exhibit, the Dear Elvis exhibit, the Rock On Presented by Gibson exhibit and the Xs & Os: Elvis and His Love of Football exhibit.
The two Elvis airplanes have been on display for decades.
Personally, I can’t help falling in love with two of the main portions: the Presley Motors Automobile Museum and the ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley exhibit. Those, along with the mansion and grounds tour, provide plenty of amusement to make the Elvis Experience Tour worth $77. It’s now or never. Let’s take a look.
Presley Motors Automobile Museum
As Elvis became rich and famous in the late 1950s, it’s obvious that he couldn’t resist buying a new car just about any time the urge hit him. Museum visitors will see flashy convertibles, luxury sedans and some very unique custom vehicles.
A nostalgic feast for the eyes, the auto museum provides an opportunity to learn the story behind each car while becoming more acquainted with the young Presley. Classic car fans will love it.
ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley
Elvis influenced many of his fellow performers with both his music and his fashion style. The gigantic Icons exhibit is packed with outfits, instruments and other artifacts that provide plenty of evidence of the impact he had on a large number of celebrities.
Learn which stars wore blinged-out jumpsuits because Elvis first wore blinged-out jumpsuits.
From Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood, from Jimmy Hendricks to Bruce Springsteen, and from Elton John to Justin Timberlake, a good number of entertainers from different generations have paid tribute to the King by sharing memorabilia for this museum section.
The mansion and grounds
You will probably want to start your visit with a shuttle ride to the house and grounds that Elvis purchased in 1957. He died there in 1977. It opened for tours five years later.
The well-produced audio-guided tour features actor John Stamos on an iPad. Discover a house interior that seems frozen in time, having not really changed since 1977. In additional buildings behind the house, you’ll learn how Elvis lived, played and entertained.
The bigger and better Graceland is an immersive experience that should be considered six or eight museums, all for one ticket. Of course, the entire grounds is overflowing with nostalgia. Music and movie fans should love every inch.
You do risk Elvis overload if you attempt to see everything in less than four or five hours. Two-day passes are reasonably priced.
It’s reasonable for a couple to spend over $150 to take the tour. True fans can justify spending more to enjoy VIP tours priced at $128 and $196 per ticket. Those have extra perks. For those who have visited the mansion before, but haven’t seen the parts that have opened in recent years, a tour that excludes the house and grounds is priced at just $48 per person.
A large resort hotel opened just north of the mansion in 2016 — the 450-room Guest House at Graceland. Packages that combine hotel accommodations with the tickets mentioned above are available.
There is also an RV campground on the west side of the highway.
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