By Liz Webber
While it’s still open for debate whether Elvis Presley is alive or not, stepping into his Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee is like walking into an episode of the Twilight Zone. If it weren’t for the hordes of tourists wearing electronic audio guides, you’d swear it was still 1977. It’s the ultimate rock and roll shrine, but also one of the most ridiculous places I’ve ever visited.
The ground floor contains little of interest (mostly the kitchen and the dining room), although Elvis’s mother’s room looks like something out of my grandma’s house (lots of purple). It starts to get interesting once the tour heads downstairs. Once I walked past the extremely yellow media room to the billiards room witah walls and ceiling covered in a couple hundred yards of this crazy paisley fabric, it kind of felt that the room was collapsing around me.
Up yet another flight of stairs leads visitors to the legendary Jungle Room. It has this absurd green shag carpet on both floor and ceiling, a really terrible choice from an interior design perspective but apparently it gives the room amazing acoustics. Elvis recorded songs for his album “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” in the Jungle Room in 1976.
After a brief look at some of Elvis’s artifacts from the off-limits upstairs rooms, the tour heads out of the house. Other buildings on the Graceland grounds contain assorted paraphernalia from Elvis’s careers in music and movies, as well as his personal life. There’s a very long hallway lined with every gold and platinum record the King ever made everywhere in the world, and also a wall of plaques dedicated to his various charitable donations. I liked the room with all the crazy outfits he wore. With the audio guide, you can stop and listen to a lengthy explanation of each item or simply get a general overview of the collection.
Across the street from the mansion, there are a couple of extra exhibits worth visiting if you want to pay a little more and upgrade to the “platinum tour.” There are even more outrageous outfits to be seen at “Elvis Jumpsuits: All Access,” with more rhinestones than you can possibly imagine. I’m also a fan of the Elvis Automobile Museum. What Elvis lacked in taste in interior design he more than made up for in his selection of cars.
There are several drawbacks to visiting Graceland, price being the biggest issue; it’s $22.50 for a student for just the mansion tour. Flash photography is also prohibited. Before you go on the mansion tour the staff takes a picture of your group that you can then purchase later for $20. All in all, though, if you’re in Memphis, I recommend visiting the home of the King. It’s a hilarious experience worth having just to say you’ve been there.