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When I touched down in the land of the Delta Blues aka Memphis, Tennessee, the thing I was most excited about was visiting Graceland- the place where Elvis Presley lived and ultimately died on August 16, 1977.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a really hardcore Elvis Fan, but I am a fan. I have a few Elvis CDs and I’m fascinated by his life and career. He is definitely up there with one of the most famous people of all time and it’s incredible to think about what an iconic figure he became. This year is the 35th anniversary of his death, and people still flock to his home every day to pay tribute to the man known as simply “The King”.
The Elvis Presley graceland mansion is now open to the public, and is one of the most visited private homes in America. On my first day in Memphis I went on a Rock ‘n’ Roll pilgrimage to Sun Studios, where Elvis recorded his records, followed by Graceland, which is about 9 miles from Downtown Memphis.
I bought a ticket for the Graceland Platinum Tour, which costs $36 USD and takes around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I think it’s worth paying the extra 4 bucks to do the Platinum Tour as opposed to the Mansion Tour, as it also includes a self-guided tour of Elvis’s custom airplanes, the Automobile Museum, and several exhibits. You can read more about Graceland ticket pricing here. I’ll be writing more about Elvis’s airplanes and car collection in a later post.
When you’ve purchased your ticket at the entrance to the Visitor’s Center, you are given a group number. There’s an area where you all line up for the buses to Elvis’s Mansion, and you are called in your group numbers. Thankfully there’s a loudspeaker system, so I went to have a look around the souvenir shops and grab a snack while I waited. Once your group number is called you line up and have your photo taken in front of a screen, then you are given headsets for your audio tour before boarding the shuttle bus to the Graceland Mansion.
The white-columned mansion is kept exactly how it was left, and it was so strange to walk through the place where Elvis lived and spent time with his friends and family. It was like being transported back in time to the 60s and 70s, and it provided me with an incredible insight into Elvis’s lifestyle. The rock ‘n’ roll legend had his quirks, which is evident in the various rooms you see inside the Mansion, such as the room with 3 televisions. However I also learned he was quite a family man- he didn’t drink alcohol because he didn’t like the taste of it, and his parents and family members lived in the house with him.
The audio tour guides you through the living room, his parent’s bedroom, dining room, TV room, billiards room and the famous Jungle Room. It then takes you outside to see other parts of the estate, including Lisa Marie Presley’s swing set, his father Vernon Presely’s office, the horse paddock and Elvis’s racquetball building. You walk through the Trophy Room that houses an incredible collection of records, jumpsuits and memorabilia, and see the piano where Elvis played his very last song on the day he died.
The tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion ends with a visit to the Meditation Garden where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. It sounds an odd thing to say, but Elvis’s grave is the most beautiful grave I have ever seen. It was a fascinating and emotional tour, and one that I’ll never forget.
A simple description of Elvis’s Graceland Mansion wouldn’t do it justice, so here are the pictures I took of all the rooms you see on the Mansion Tour, from start to finish: