A few days ago I revisited the home of Elvis Presley Graceland in Memphis Tennessee. If I’m remembering correctly it had been 3 years since our last visit. Just like last time we ordered the VIP tour. Honestly the only real value in this is on busy days you will get to skip ahead in line for the tour of Elvis Presley’s home. The other VIP tour features are loading and unloading from the bus at a special location on the left side of the house ( which actually might be the general loading area ). At the end of your visit you get to enter a “bonus” room which includes more Elvis memorabilia. The VIP tour pass does not allow you to skip ahead in any lines at the complex across the street. You also have to deal with the normal lines in the out buildings on the Graceland property. VIP ticket holders do get to explore the mansion as many times as they want. When you head across the street on the bus you get a “back lot” tour with your VIP admission.
The Graceland tour has changed since our last visit. When entering the home their is no tour guide giving you a presentation. Now you only have the headsets and are on your own for exploring the house. During our first Graceland visit you would exit the main foyer using a door located by the back bedroom. Now you exit this area by making a right turn into the kitchen from the dining room. Several years ago that area was completely roped off. I think the new route actually improves the flow of traffic through the home.
The 2 employees having a discussion about work, schedule and upcoming previous tours wasn’t really something guest needed to hear. One of the workers was at the top of the stairs that leads down to the basement. The employee mostly listening was at the bottom of the stairs. Not sure the man at the top was concerned with greeting customers. The female “greeter” below seemed slightly more friendly.
I’m not sure if it was just the time of year or if employee cutbacks have taken place at Graceland. There seemed to be less employees on the grounds. You also had a mix of those who seemed happy and those who seemed less than pleased to be working. The majority of staff seemed happy enough. But a few of the younger ones didn’t seem thrilled to be there. Older staff definitely came off as enjoying their job more.
If you don’t mind colder temperatures December is definitely the time to visit Graceland. Our previous tour was taken in May. The property was jam packed with visitors. This would have been right after or just before Memphis in May. Last weeks visit was much more relaxed. Less having to fight the crowds not hot to the point of being uncomfortable. All these factors made the trip faster and much more enjoyable.
Of course there were a few people who still thought they were VIP and could do whatever they wanted. I always seem to run into the people that see you taking a picture yet want to still walk into the photo. These are normally the same people who complain about being in the picture. The Trophy Building and 51 Drive-in car collection seem to be where this happens the most. On our first visit I had 2 older gentleman that refused to move out of the way so I could take pictures of the pink Cadillac. They just continued on with their conversation like I wasn’t even there.
I had read that Graceland was going to undergo a major renovation. Part of that process was supposed to have the visitors center and it’s contents moved across the street next door to the mansion. From a discussion I had with an employee this project is currently on hold. Although property in the neighborhood has been purchased. I’ll write more on this in an upcoming article.
Another employee told us that subtle changes have taken place around Graceland to have the mansion look more true to how it was when Elvis was living there. He stated that hardcore fans always seemed to spot these changes. Honestly during my visit most everything seemed the same. Of course the property and inside the house were decorated for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Here is a picture from my first visit to Graceland a few years ago.