Elvis Presley’s Graceland: Our Top Moments of 2016Posted by Elvis Presley's Graceland on Dec 29, 2016 | 18 comments
As we count down to the final days, hours and minutes of 2016, we’re taking a moment to look back on this monumental year at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.
We celebrated milestones, Elvis Week, Elvis’ birthday and the holidays. We took Elvis to fans overseas, and brought fans closer to Graceland than ever. We crowned a new Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, shared new Elvis music with fans and made lots of plans that will leave 2017 all shook up (sorry, we just had to say that).
Let’s look back at our favorite moments from 2016.
During most of 2016, we watched as the new 450-room resort hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, come into shape down the road from Graceland. The weekend of October 27-30, the hotel opened to rave reviews. Fans loved the Elvis-inspired décor, the Southern hospitality, the food and the feeling that you were, in fact, staying at Elvis’ guest house. Two weeks after opening, the hotel was awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating.
Have you stayed at The Guest House at Graceland yet? Book your stay today.
Announcing Elvis Presley’s Memphis
At Graceland, we always want to preserve and carry on Elvis’ legacy – and that’s what we’re doing with our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Opening in the spring 2017, the new complex will house Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, as well as Presley Motors, a new Elvis car museum. There will also be “Discovery” exhibit spaces, where guests can learn more about Elvis’ life, career and interests, as well as a Soundstage for special events. Hungry for more? You’ll find plenty to eat at two restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. Elvis’ two airplanes will also be on display here, too. Make your plans now to experience Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
In May, we celebrated our 20 millionth – yes, you read that right – visitor: Tiffany Greenoak, who was visiting Graceland while on her honeymoon with her husband, Robert. The Greenoaks, Elvis fans from London, were welcomed to Graceland by a phone call from Priscilla Presley and a visit from Graceland CEO Jack Soden. Tiffany and Robert were given a private tour and won a prize pack that included a stay at The Guest House at Graceland, a one-year pass to Graceland, a $500 shopping spree at Graceland’s retail shops and the recently released box set, “Elvis Presley – The Album Collection.” Here’s to 20 million more visitors!
Elvis Week is always a special time of year here at Graceland, and the 2016 Elvis Week was no exception. Our special guests included everyone from DJ Fontana, who talked about what it was like to be Elvis’ drummer both on the stage and on the big screen; Bill Eubanks, who discussed decorating Graceland with Elvis; Marilyn Evans Riehl, who recalled dating Elvis in 1956 and was there for the famous Million Dollar Quartet session; Estelle Brown, who shared her memories of singing alongside Elvis; and many more. Performers like Terry Mike Jeffrey, Memphis Jones, Gladys & Maybelle, Andy Childs, Jamie Kelley and the Brandon Cunning Band electrified the stage with all kinds of music, from gospel to Elvis classics and Memphis-made favorites. It was a memorable Elvis Week, and it promises that 2017 will be even bigger and better. Re-live the Elvis Week magic with this recap.
2016 marks the 10th year for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest – can you believe it? We crowned the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist during Elvis Week, and that winner was Dwight Icenhower, who represented the Branson Elvis Festival. Ben Thompson won second place, Victor Trevino, Jr., took home third and Pat Dunn and Travis Powell rounded out the top 5 finalists. Watch this recap of the 2016 Ultimate ETA Contest.
We can’t wait for next year’s contest. Check out the list of 2017 preliminary rounds.
Elvis’ Birthday Celebration
We’ve jumped all over 2016 a bit, but let’s go back to the beginning – to Elvis’ birthday. We celebrated Elvis’ 81st birthday with fans from all over the world, special guests and a gorgeous red cake that honored Elvis’ movie career. June Juanico spoke about dating Elvis in the 1950s, and Glenn Derringer shared his memories of starring alongside Elvis the Dorsey Brothers Show. The birthday festivities also included the Auction at Graceland and an Elvis-inspired show by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra featuring Terry Mike Jeffrey.
(psst – the 2017 Elvis Birthday Celebration is right around the corner – you’re joining us for that, right?)
New VIP Exhibit – “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man”
Elvis made his movie debut in “Love Me Tender” 60 years ago this year. To celebrate, we opened our new VIP exhibit, “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man,” in January. The exhibit features movie scripts, costumes, awards, posters and other artifacts. If you want to see this special exhibit, which is only part of our VIP tour, hurry – it closes in March 2017.
Surprises at the Graceland Lighting Ceremony
The annual Lighting is always a special time of year here at Graceland. It’s when we flip the switch on Elvis’ traditional Christmas lights and decorations at the king’s castle. This year, country star T.G. Sheppard, who was a friend of Elvis’, flipped the switch with the help of Alexis, a patient at St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Guests were treated to a surprise when T.G.’s friend, musician Paul Shaffer, joined in on the festivities as well – proof that you never know who you’ll see at Graceland! And while the temperature in Memphis that day was near 70 degrees, we somehow managed to work some Graceland magic and score a little snow. Check out what you may have missed with this recap of the ceremony.
Elvis Music Galore
Did someone say Christmas? 2016 was like Christmas over and over again for Elvis fans. This year, the definitive 60-cd box set “Elvis Presley – The Album Collection,” was released in March, followed by “Way Down in the Jungle Room” in August and “The Wonder of You – Elvis Presley with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” in October. The box set features restorations of 57 Elvis albums originally released on RCA, plus three new discs of rarities from the 50s, 60s and 70s. “The Wonder of You” is a beautiful follow-up to last year’s wildly successful “If I Can Dream” album. The two-CD set “Way Down in the Jungle Room” is the most complete and comprehensive set of Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions. They’re all available now at Shop Graceland, and click here to watch this Gates of Graceland episode that focuses on Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions.
‘If I Can Dream’ UK Tour
Speaking of new music, we celebrated the million-selling album, “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” with a UK arena tour this fall. For six dates this November, Elvis graced a giant screen and was backed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Priscilla Presley also made special appearances at each concert. Fans were delighted, and it was a fabulous way to celebrate yet another one of the king’s chart-topping albums.
OK, OK – we’re cheating with this one a little bit: We started The Gates of Graceland in 2015. But we couldn’t help but include our popular web series – after all, our 2016 episodes have racked up more than 488,000 views this year. We’ve covered everything from the Million Dollar Quartet to Elvis’ obscure awards to his book and record collections. Of course, we can’t forget our popular Hidden Graceland episodes, which take you beyond the ropes and into the Pink Cadillac’s trunk. We have even more episodes lined up for 2017, and it’s free to watch right on Graceland.com – so what are you waiting for? Binge The Gates of Graceland now!
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll kicked off his movie career 60 years ago this year, so to celebrate, we’re taking a look at each and every Elvis movie, in chronological order, with our new bonus podcast episodes, called Starring Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley Enterprises’ Libby Perry and Sheena Barnett are hosting the show, and so far they’ve covered Elvis’ first four films. Each episode features discussion of the film’s plot and characters, movie trivia and more. Watch along and tune in to the podcast, which is released every two weeks. Tune in now!
Get Social with Graceland
You can like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, but that’s so last year. This year, we launched a Graceland Snapchat. You can see unique views and behind-the-scenes Graceland Snapchat stories by following us at VisitGraceland. If you’re following us on Facebook, great!, but be sure to keep an eye out for our Facebook Live videos. We kicked off our Facebok Live videos with a behind-the-scenes peek at a Gates of Graceland shoot, and since then, we’ve gone live often during big events to give our Facebook followers the chance to watch along at home. We know you’re following us on Instagram, but are you playing with us on Instagram? This year we kicked off our weekly Instagram game, called #WhereAmIWednesday. Each Wednesday, we post a photo taken somewhere at Graceland, and it’s up to you to figure out exactly where that photo was taken at the king’s castle. Play along with us!
How about a king for president? In 2015, we launched the Elvis for President campaign, which – like any other presidential campaign – concluded in November 2016. We shared our reasons to vote for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, gave away Elvis for President campaign kits and more. The campaign may be over, but get your patriotic feelings on over at the Elvis for President page.
Feeling the (Burnin’) Love
Elvis Presley’s Graceland definitely felt the love from travel writers and bloggers in 2016. Just this year alone, we were listed as one of Money Magazine’s 7 Best Domestic Destinations, one of Southern Living’s Southern Places to Visit Before You Die, the Must-See Home in Tennessee in USA Today, a must-do in Thrillist’s Great American Bucket List: 50 Things to Do in the U.S. Before You Die and one of HouseBeautiful’s 50 Most Famous Historic Homes. We definitely think we’re a must-see – don’t you?
We definitely took care of business in 2016, and we can’t wait for 2017. It’s going to be an incredible year!