33 Years of Elvis Presley’s GracelandPosted by Elvis Presley's Graceland on Jun 5, 2015 | 73 comments
Elvis Presley’s Graceland opened to the public on June 7, 1982.
Sunday, June 7, 2015, is our 33rd anniversary. To say we’ve been busy in those 33 years is an understatement.
In 33 years, over 19 million Elvis fans have walked in the footsteps of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll at Graceland. Guests come from around the globe to see the house Elvis called home. Some of those guests have been celebrities, like Sir Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, and some have been royalty, such as Princes William and Harry.
The Graceland property has grown to include the plaza across the street, a new Archives Studio near the home and a Chapel in the Woods. Fans explore more than just the home – they can step inside Elvis’ airplanes and see his cars.
It all started one spring day, 33 years ago, right on the steps of Graceland.
When Elvis purchased Graceland in 1957, he didn’t buy it just for himself, but for his family. His parents, Vernon and Gladys, lived there, as did his grandmother, Minnie Mae (all of whom are now buried at the Meditation Garden at Graceland). Several family members lived at Graceland over the years, including Elvis’ aunt, Delta Presley Biggs, Vernon’s sister. In fact, she still lived at Graceland when it opened for tours, and she lived there with her dog, Edmond, until her death in 1993.
Delta and Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden cut the ribbon to open Graceland in 1982, and Priscilla Presley was on hand to welcome guests to the home.
Fans lined up to tour Graceland on its first day – 3,024 fans, to be exact.
The kitchen was not added to the Graceland tour until 1993. Today, fans can see the living room, dining room, Elvis’ parents’ bedroom, the kitchen, pool room, TV room and Jungle Room.
Upon its initial opening, the tour featured guides in each room, who shared facts about Elvis and his home. Today, fans are guided through Graceland with a state-of-the-art iPad tour, narrated by Elvis fan and actor John Stamos. The iPad tour includes exclusive video and photo of Elvis and his family at Graceland.
A lot has changed in 33 years, but one thing hasn’t: Graceland is ground zero for fans who want to celebrate, learn more about and pay tribute to Elvis Presley.
Here are a few of the different ways fans experience Graceland.
When Elvis was at home at Graceland, he’d often wander down to the wall and his famous gates to meet fans. Since then, fans have filled the wall with messages of love.
There are thousands of messages on the wall, with more added every day. Have you added yours?
Graceland was Elvis’ home, and it’s now a home, of sorts, for Elvis fans. Fans gather at Graceland each year for Elvis Week. Lifelong friendships have been made during Elvis Week, which gives the festival a family reunion feel. Friendships forged, relationships made, lives changed forever – that’s the power of Elvis.
Fans also get the chance to hear from those who knew Elvis best at events such as Conversations on Elvis and the Graceland Insiders Conference.
The cornerstone event of Elvis Week is one that can’t happen anywhere else in the world but Graceland – the Candlelight Vigil. Thousands of fans, candle in hand, line up at Graceland and the Meditation Garden to pay tribute to the king.
Fans also gather to celebrate Elvis’ birthday at Graceland.
On Elvis’ 80th birthday, January 8, 2015, the Presley family joined fans from around the world to cut a gorgeous birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The Birthday Celebration is like a smaller version of Elvis Week, with special guests and events that all focus on Elvis.
The annual Lighting Ceremony has become a fan-favorite event, with a celebrity switching on the Christmas lights for the holiday season. Last year, Graceland’s iPad tour narrator, John Stamos, turned on the lights with the help of patients from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
Elvis’ original Christmas decorations are still in use at Graceland, and the sparkly decorations stay up until his birthday. Fans love Elvis’ decorations and the many Christmas trees that are inside the mansion, and make special trips just to see the decorations.
Graceland and the Graceland experience has grown in its 33 years. Elvis Week, the Birthday Celebration and Lighting Ceremony are all fantastic additions to the every day tours that take place at the king’s castle. In the last few years, Graceland has added even more events, such as Scouts Rock at Graceland, which welcomes young fans to explore the mansion as well as participate in educational and creative activities.
New this year is Home School Day, which is October 2, and it’s a day for home school students to visit Graceland and take part in special activities.
Some things at Graceland will never change. Those lions will always keep watch at the entrance. The stained-glass peacocks in the living room aren’t going anywhere. Elvis’ three TVs will remain, forever, in the TV room.
But it’s always fun to shake things up once in a while.
Exhibits change every so often at Graceland so fans can always learn something new about Elvis. Guests have enjoyed the new Archives Studio, which opens up Graceland Archives to fans. “I Shot Elvis,” a photography exhibit, opened earlier this year, as did a new VIP exhibit, which is all about the “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” documentary.
If you haven’t visited Graceland yet, what’s stopping you? Experience the king’s castle today!
Have you toured the mansion?
Paid your respects during the Candlelight Vigil?
Wished Elvis a happy birthday on Graceland’s lawn?
Signed your name on the wall?
Snapped a selfie at the Graceland gates?
Share your favorite Graceland experience in the comments!
Thank you, thank you very much for visiting Graceland, and here’s to many more years!