Even if Elvis was born in Tupelo and there are so many other great musicians (which you can for example see in the Memphis Music Hall of Fame): Memphis is Elvis and Elvis is Memphis. No other star is a synonym for the Western Tennessee city that much – no other city is that closely linked to “The King”‘s life. And of course, a visit to Elvis City (aka Memphis) cannot be complete without visiting Graceland. As the place turned from his villa to pilgrimage place and mega-museum about Elvis Presley, I split my visit into two postings. This posting gives general information and reviews the manstion, a second posting will deal with the exhibitions like the collection of cars.
Graceland – Location & Admission
Graceland is located at Elvis Presley Boulevard / US-51 South of Memphis city center. Any visit of Graceland starts at the Visitor Center, which is on the opposite of the road of the mansion.
There are numerous packages, if you want to visit Graceland. If you are just interested in Elvis Presley’s house, the adult admission is 41 USD. If you want to see the exhibitions as well (which I would recommend), this ticket will be 61 USD. The Elvis Entourage VIP Ticket adds a skip-the-queues for the Graceland Mansion buses and reliefs your credit card by 99 USD. None of these tickets include a visit to the Elvis Presley airplanes (which I also handle in the exhibition review), which is a 5 USD add-on. The most superb Graceland experience, called Ultimate VIP Tour, is 174 USD per person. It includes access to a VIP lounge, a menu voucher, access to special exhibitions and souvenirs and a small group guided mansion tour. I went for the 61 USD ticket plus the airplane option, which I felt to be a good choice.
The Graceland Mansion tours are timed, you should be there in time. Once you are in the mansion, you are flexible to walk around. Afterwards, if you like, you visit the other exhibitions. There are no time slots or limitations.
Hotel and Exhibition Center
There is also a hotel and an exhibition center, which belongs to the Graceland complex. The Heartbreak Hotel used to be right in front of the Graceland Visitor center, but it has been turned down in favor of additional parking space. Therefore, there is a more posh and significantly larger Graceland Hotel on the opposite side of the street now. The exhibition center opened in 2019. It typically hosts non-Elvis exhibitions.
Graceland Mansion – The Tour
All tours start at the visitor center, where you are driven to the mansion with minor buses. When you come back from the masion to the visitor center (with the same buses), there is another ticket check, so that the mansion-only tickets cannot access the Graceland Exhibitions.
The tour does only cover the ground floor and the basement rooms. The official reason is that Elvis always welcomed his guests in these areas only. It somehow just feels to be one side of the story – especially as the building still seems to be used here and then by Lisa-Marie Presley.
Mansion – Ground Floor and Basement
With the basic ticket I had, you are doing a self-guided tour. You receive an iPad guide, which can be configured to several languages. For each room there is a quite some audio information, you can also click on the screen for additional information on selected items. You can also mark items as “favorites” to recall them at a later stage. However, the iPad is used in the mansion only – the remaining exhibitions do not feature a similar system. Thus, you return your iPad at the end of the tour.
The first rooms you visit are the ground floor rooms in the entrance area, which are namely the living room, the dining room and the kitchen. Only small parts of the rooms are accessible, there are lines which prevent you to step inside the blocked areas. Especially in the living room, where the perspective is not ideal, it is a shame.
After the kitchen, you have a very short view of the most famous room of the villa (see below) and then head down to the basement floor. The yellow room is Elvis’ TV and entertainment room as well as the bar. The Pool Room is also quite colorful and was used very often when Elvis had fun with friends. There is still a hole in the felt of the table.
The Jungle Room
The green staircase suggests that something special will be happening soon.
If you are an Elvis Presley fan, you will likely think of his album Way Down in the Jungle Room – I was thinking about Marc Cohen’s Walking in Memphis, when I entered the famous place. Though this place has been re-designed several times, it is definitely amazing. What a plushy place with the green meadow-alike carpet.
Vernon’s Office and Outside Exhibits
You are now exiting Graceland through a back door to the garden. The tour asks you to more or less pass the carport directly (all cars are at Presley Motors) and enter the garden building. I first enjoyed the view of the back of the house, looked at the horses and the garden area. Graceland is really beautiful on its back.
Then I went to the small garden house, which features Vernon’s (Elvis father and manager) office. This place is named to be as original as possible (as all other rooms). Vernon and Elvis did all the management tasks here and replied to fan mail. Next to it, there is also a small shooting range.
Trophy Building and Racquetball Building
An annex to Graceland features the so-called Trophy Building. It it was not Graceland, it would be an amazing Elvis Museum, which costs you 15 to 20 USD solely. Most of the exhibitions feature Elvis family and Graceland itself. For example, there is the orginal Lisa-Marie Graceland key or drawings of the house. There is also former furniture. You even have some videos of the Presleys’ family life.
You exit the annex to its rear and pass the swimming pool.
The final building on the mansion tour is the Racquetball Building, which also features a nice bar area and was used to meet friends and play the sports.
Meditation Garden / Elvis Presley Grave
Hard to say which is the key attraction of the tour. There are three candidates: the building itself and its famous front, the Jungle Room – and finally the Meditation Garden, which is the place where the Presley graves are situated. It is a lovely scenery with a nice spring and the gravestones around it.
There are four gravestones: Elvis’ parents, Vernon and Gladys as well as his grandmother Minnie Mae are buried next to the most famous rock musician. I will not participate in discussions, because many people believe that especially due to safety concerns, Elvis is buried on another place in Graceland or somewhere else.
To me, the grave was the highlight of the visit – and it is also the last stage. Right behind Meditation Gardens, the buses bring you back to the visitor center – you have the opportunity to take some pictures of the building before you leave (I sorted my pictures to the top of this posting).
Graceland Mansion – Services
In the mansion itself, there are no special services, apart from sanitary ones. All the services like shops and restaurants are on the visitor center side. For non-exhibition tickets, there is a souvenir store close to the ticket office.
Graceland Mansion – My View
First of all, the Graceland Mansion is much smaller than I thought it to be. It is a really nice building and area, but on the other hand, it is the home of the biggest superstar of his time. For that, it feels like a moderate and humble estate.
Visiting the Graceland Mansion was definitely a cool experience. I am glad I was able to do that and tick it away from my bucket list. I do not rate it as excellent because I felt that some views were not good, especially in the living room. I would have loved to see Elvis bedroom and maybe other upstairs facilities. Though, I loved to walk around the garden, which was really lovely to smell the spirit of the King.
Graceland – The Gallery
I added a gallery with all of my Graceland pictures, exhibition and mansion to the Travel Gallery section:
Flyctory.com about Memphis
Here are more postings related to Memphis
In these articles, I dealt with events and places influencing musical history: