I have been to Graceland once before...30 years ago. Of course the house itself is the same but the complex across the street has expanded a lot.
We splurged and did the Ultimate VIP tour. This is a guided tour for up to 12 people. The alternative is a self guided tour with audio through an IPad.
We checked in and received our lanyard and had a few minutes to wait for the tour to start.
Our guide for the tour was Ecstasy and she was awesome. She said there were 4 people signed up but the other two didn't show up so it was now a private tour. Fine with us!
We rode over to the mansion and went to a back door area to watch a short introductory movie.
Then we went to the front of the mansion. Our first stop was the living room / music room. Ecstasy explained from the beginning that Elvis' father kept everything. Everything in the house is original. The management is always on the look out for original items that ended up in different locations. The white piano was the original piano in the music room and it took some time for them to track it down and purchase it back for the house.
She also told us that Elvis loved television so there is always at least one television in every room. The couch seated 15 people and Elvis had that custom made.
The next room was the dining room. Again there was a TV in the corner where Elvis could see it from his chair.
She told us that the Presley family still celebrates either Thanksgiving or Christmas in the house. The mansion is closed on both of those days. The staff will know what day they are planning to be there and they will prepare the house for them.
The next room was Gladys' bedroom (Elvis' mother). After she passed, Elvis had the room kept exactly as it had been when she was alive.
Next was the kitchen. Elvis had one of the first microwaves which he purchased for $600. His aunt had a bedroom off of the kitchen area. She lived in the mansion for several years after it had already opened for tours. Our guide said that tour groups would never knew if you may see her in the kitchen cooking.
Then we went downstairs to the TV room which our guide called the ultimate man cave. She said that Elvis liked to be there with his friends and had a movie screen that would come down from the ceiling. The room next to it had a pool table where he also used to hang out. It is covered in a fabric that Elvis saw and feel in love with and then had a designer work to put on the walls and ceilings.
Going back upstairs, we came to the famous Jungle room
From here, we went out in the back to some additional buildings. There was Vernon's office as well as an archive building that houses a variety of different items from throughout Elvis' life.
We also went to the racquetball court building. This is where Elvis was on his last day and played his last two songs on the piano in that building.
Our last stop at the house was to the meditation gardens. Originally Elvis and his mother where buried at a local cemetery. Due to security issues, Vernon had them moved to Graceland. Elvis father and grandmother are also buried there. There is a marker for Elvis' twin brother.
Before we went back across the street to the Elvis' Memphis complex, our guide told us she would take our photo in front of the mansion without any other people in it. It was pretty busy with a continuous shuttle buses dropping people off but she said "Don't worry. We will get it." She basically held up people coming off the bus and waited for everyone else to get inside the door and then she said "let's go." She was great!!
She called for our shuttle bus and then we rode back over to the complex. There is so much more to see there. Our first stop was the car museum. This is just a few of the cars and other vehicles there:
Our next stop was an exhibit that walked you through Elvis' career. Again, there is so much to see here, including many of Elvis' outfits. My favorite area was a special section for his spiritual music. Elvis won 3 Grammys and they were all for his Gospel music.
Our last stop with our guide was a special area only for the Ultimate tour. It was a chance to see some items from the archive collection. We were allowed to hold one of the items as long as we were white gloves. Then we got to see a few more items as well.
That was the end of our time with the guide. She was just amazing. We got so much more information from her than we would have received from the audio tour. Our tour ticket got us access to the rest of the complex and also included lunch at Vernon's Smokehouse. We enjoyed our lunch and then spent some more time seeing the rest of the exhibits.
We ended up being there for 6 hours! We were tired by the end but it was a great day.
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I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.