Everyone knows about Elvis. He is the King of Rock and Roll. He was a handsome guy who could sing, play the guitar, and dance. However, there are lots of things about Elvis that I don’t think people know. He loved to read books. Elvis had a desk on his private plane to put his ever present bag of books he was reading. He had an 8 degree black belt in karate and trained for the higher levels along with everyone else in a class. Yes, he was drafted into the army, but did you know that he could have been placed strategically wherever he wanted? He wanted to be treated like the rest of the troops and did all the same duties that they did. These are just a few things that I learned today at Graceland. I was enough to make me want to do some more research on this man.
There are several types of tickets that you can buy to enter Graceland. The cheapest is $75 and includes the mansion, exhibitions, and planes. You can upgrade to two different VIP tours. The first upgrade is $50 more and only includes an extra VIP exhibition and a backstage pass keepsake. The second is $190 is includes all the same things, in addition to a meal voucher, special merchandise, and VIP lounge, but it differs from other tours in that you get a personal tour guide through Graceland. Every other ticket includes an audio tour with a tablet and headphones. We bought the cheapest that includes the mansion because I didn’t need all the extras. It was plenty. It took us three hours to see everything!
Elvis bought Graceland for his family. There is a room downstairs specifically for his parents and an office out back for his dad. His whole family is buried there in his favorite garden. After Elvis died, his father moved his wife to be near her son. They were buried shortly thereafter in the Meditation Garden. There is even a memorial for his twin brother who died in childbirth. Most recently, his only grandson’s coffin was added.
Graceland has unreal decorations. They say that Elvis changed the decor quite a few times in the 20 years that he lived there. You start the tour with the living room and music room.
You are not allowed to see the upstairs. Elvis never had visitors upstairs in the family rooms and they continue this tradition in respect to him. Lisa Marie still visits and loves eating at the dining room table.
As you can see, the kitchen definitely has a 70s feel to it. After the kitchen, you catch a glimpse of the jungle room, but you head downstairs to the media room. It was here that Elvis liked to listen to his massive record collection. There is also a hidden projector screen so they could watch movies.
I can’t decide if the pool room or the jungle room is my favorite. I think I have to go with the jungle room, but the fabric walls and ceiling of the pool room is so unique. As you walk up the stairs to go to the jungle room, you notice the shag carpet on the walls. In the jungle room there is a waterfall area at one end, bar area at the other end, and shag carpet even on the ceiling. This room is my favorite because of the furniture. I love the round chair and coffee table.
After the jungle room, you head outside to the carport and see the backyard where Elvis enjoyed playing. You also get a peek into his father’s office area and smokehouse. He also had a racketball court built because he loved the sport so much. This was where he sang his last songs ever on the piano by the court to his friends. One of those songs is Unchained Melody, which they play while you are in the building. It gave me goosebumps. Behind the racketball building is the pasture (Elvis and Priscilla loved riding) and there are still horses there. Next you walk to an exhibition in a building that once housed his toy cars and racetracks. You will find all kinds of memorabilia of the family, the house, and his private life. They even show some home movies. You exit next to the pool area and meditation garden and take the bus back across the street (Elvis Presley Blvd) to see more exhibitions.
The exhibition halls are massive. The first one contains his cars, motorcycles, and other motorized ¨toys¨. Each vehicle has a description of the make, model, purchase price, how many were made and Elvis´ personal story about it. Many of the vehicles were repurchased and refurbished just for the exhibition. In one hall there are interactive displays where you can pose in one of his outfits or on an album cover and they will email you the picture. The exhibition areas also included his time in the army, visit to the White House, his karate studies, and a hint at the enormous amount of documents, objects, video, and audio they have collected. My favorite exhibition focused on his songs and movie history. It included a huge wall of all his gold, silver, and platinum albums and a good number of his stage outfits. The last two exhibitions were small and a bit lackluster. One of them focused on Lisa Marie and the other was a sound stage from a recent tv series they filmed about Elvis.
We saved his planes for last. There are two. One is the size of a regular commercial plane and it is called Lisa Marie. This plane has comfortable, plush looking seats and sofas, a conference room for meals, a private room to play cards or nap, a bedroom with a full sized bed, and two bathrooms with gold plate sinks. It was impressive. The other plane is smaller and not as interesting, but it was colorful.
I loved Graceland. I am not a huge Elvis fan, but I learned so many things about him here. He was a very interesting man who had a ridiculous number of hobbies that not many people realize. I think that the price of the ticket was totally worth it for all the things that you get to see. I am definitely going to do some more research on Elvis and watch a few of his movies. If you want to see his house in Tupelo, I would recommend it. We did not tour the inside, but it is not out of the way if you are on a road trip.