30 Years Later: Elvis Lives at Graceland and Its Getting a Make-over

Spring before last, when I stood outside the gates of Graceland before I drove to Mississippi (see post), besides wishing I hadn’t arrived after closing time, I thought, “Gee, this neighborhood looks dingy.” I had expected something grander.

The mansion looks pristine and impressive inside the gates . Outside, it’s a rag tag group of business establishments and more Elvis attractions.

The other attractions are connected to Graceland, but the connection isn’t clear–at least not from first glance. That’s my impression anyway. Perhaps this was because I had that disoriented feeling that comes from expecting a direct flight fom Columbus to Memphis and ending up spending several hours at the airport in Detroit instead.

Since I wasn’t sure exactly how to get where I was going in Mississippi, I didn’t take the time to explore further. I do remember feeling confused. I thought that the mansion and grounds were all there was to see. People I know who have toured Graceland have never mentioned to me all the Elvis attractions across the street from the mansion–his airplanes for one. After reading this article in the LA Times about the updates to come, I can see why it wasn’t clear to me exactly where the visitor’s center was.

According to the article, realizing there is an image and attractions flow problem and a visit can be made even grander by new facilities, the folks who keep track of Elvis’s stuff have arranged for a neighborhood make-over. A large hotel and a new visitors’ center is in the works.

I wonder what will happen to the graffetti on the walls that surrounds the property or if that is now part of the Elvis legacy? It looks to me that people just like to write on wall when given the chance. However, today there are 75,000 people showing up to pay tribute, so perhaps there’s more to the missives than what one normally thinks of urban scrawls. (Here’s a BBC article about what’s going on at Graceland today, August 16, 30 years after Elvis’s death.)

In case you are heading to Graceland, here’s a price list photo thanks to G.J. Charlet III on Flickr. As you can see, there are several tour options. Maybe everyone I know has only done the basic, $25 option.