On June 7, 1982, Elvis Presley’s Graceland home opened to the public. Visitors have since found their way to the south of Memphis to walk where The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll once lived. Public entrance to this legend’s home reached 20 million visitors in May 2016. (The special visitor made news when she bought the 20 millionth ticket with her newlywed husband…a story that reminds you of a good ol’ lip curling Elvis love song.) It’s open every day of the year except for a few holidays when the Presleys might be feasting at the dining room table on one of those special days.
“We tell the story of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll through Elvis’s eyes,” says Libby Perry, Graceland’s public relations coordinator. Perry feels visitors come to Graceland to see what they already know and leave with something they didn’t. For instance, Perry says, “Few people realize how generous [Elvis] was.” His philanthropic work and his time of service in the U.S. Army is showcased at Graceland, among many new things.
Beyond the mansion, Graceland recently expanded 200,000 square feet to include the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, an automobile museum that showcases Elvis’s classic car collection, restaurants including Gladys’s Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse (each named after Elvis’s parents), and the new hotel, The Guest House at Graceland.
Before this transformation, many archives at Graceland were unavailable to the public due to a lack of space to showcase them. For example, Elvis’s racquetball court, which used to display archive items for visitors such as jumpsuits, awards, and gold records has been restored to its original form—just how the King had it when he played.
One place in Elvis’s mansion that you will not have the privilege to see is the upstairs floor. “That was really the only place in the world that Elvis could have privacy. So, that was his sanctuary. We keep it like that in respect for the family’s wishes,” says Perry.