The question of whether or not to visit Graceland can be a controversial issue. Some people say that it was the best experience of their lives, while others complain about hours stood in the heat, high ticket prices, and rude employees. Graceland has recently made some major changes, and these are a few things to consider about going:
First, the tickets can be really expensive. The lowest-priced ticket is nearly $40 for the mansion-only ticket, and that can only be bought online. The prices go up to a VIP tour for over $150 dollars. If you drive to Graceland, there’s a $10 parking fee on top of that.
Once you’ve bought the tickets, it can be hours before you can get in the house. Visitors are often assigned a designated time for entering which could be hours after they buy the ticket. When you go to stand in line, they insist on taking your photo next to a banner. Some people might have privacy concerns about Graceland taking, and possibly storing, their photos.
The VIP tickets let you skip a lot of lines, but some of the VIP ticket holders find themselves waiting anyway on days when a lot of VIP tickets have been sold.
When the time comes for your tour, it starts by standing in a long line to watch a brief film about Elvis, and then there’s another long line to get on the shuttle bus to take you across the street to the mansion. Once you’re across the street, there might be another line to get inside. Some visitors have spent hours just standing in these lines.
The tour through the house itself will partly depend on how many other visitors there are that day. Some people experience having hardly any time to look at the rooms, while the employees shout at them to move along. On the other hand, those who come during less crowded times felt almost as though they had the house to themselves.
Graceland isn’t as big as one might expect. It’s roughly the size of a McMansion in an upper middle class suburb. Only the downstairs area is open for tours, along with a TV room and billiard room which are located in the basement. The basement rooms aren’t accessible for wheelchairs and walkers.
The mansion tour also includes the racquetball building and Vernon Presley’s office. The meditation garden is still included. However, the trophy room no longer houses Elvis’ collection of gold records and his stage costumes. These have been moved across the street to the new entertainment complex. If you have a mansion-only ticket, they cost extra to see.
The shuttle bus takes you back across the street after the mansion tour. Remember the photos that Graceland insisted on taking of you earlier? You’ll be accosted with them when you get off the bus, and they’ll try to sell you the photos (that you never requested) for $35.
Along with the gold records, the entertainment complex displays Elvis’ car collection and an assortment of exhibits that have been in storage. There’s a diner and a BBQ restaurant which are named after Elvis’ parents. The aircraft are still on display across the street as well, even though there was a scare that they might be removed from Graceland.
Once you’ve finished visiting the Graceland exhibits, it’s really not a good idea to explore the area around Graceland, especially after dark. The neighborhood has become somewhat run-down and dangerous in the years since Elvis’ death.
Graceland is an important historical site associated with one of the major musicians of the 20th century, and might well be worth a visit. At the same time, it has pitfalls which one should be aware of when making the decision whether or not to visit.