Discovering Elvis Presley at Graceland: What to See and Experience as a Wheelchair User

Two months ago, if someone would have asked me “What do you know about Elvis?”, my answer would have been “Not much”. While I have heard of Elvis Presley (hasn’t everyone?) and know maybe a handful of his songs at most, he always sort of seemed like a myth to me. I know that sounds weird, so let me explain. He was just always a legendary figure that I knew of, but he didn’t seem fully realistic – like a mystical unicorn almost. I’m sure that is simply because I was born in the 90s and raised on pop music, but in recent years I’ve tried to expand my musical palate. elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible 
When I got the opportunity to visit Memphis, Tennessee this past December, I jumped at the chance. Memphis is only about five hours from where I live in Georgia, but I had never been to Memphis for whatever reason. In all of my research about Memphis leading up to the trip, Elvis Presley’s Graceland was recommended everywhere. Apparently Elvis was/is quite a big deal! I made it my goal while in Memphis to learn about the man, the myth, and the legend, Elvis, and I also wanted to uncover how accessible Graceland is.
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During my 48 hours in Memphis, I certainly gained a new appreciation for Elvis and I now call myself a fan of his. Here is how my experience at Graceland went and how you can make the most of your visit –
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elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible
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When I arrived to Graceland, I first went to the ticketing office. As soon as I rolled through the doors, a friendly older lady smiled and said “Welcome to Graceland! How can I help you?”. I told her that I needed to get my tickets from the box office and she immediately got me squared away. I did the “Elvis Entourage VIP Tour”, which costs $96.50 per person and gives you front-of-the-line access to Elvis’ mansion, a VIP shuttle over to the mansion, and full access to the brand new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex. We’ll delve more into what all the entertainment complex offers later (it’s epic!), but if you really want to have a remarkable Elvis experience, this VIP tour is the way to go. Alternatively, if you don’t want to fork out the money for the VIP tour, you can visit just the mansion for $39.75 per adult or both the mansion and the entertainment complex for $59.
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 elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible
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Now that I had my tickets in-hand, it was time to explore Graceland! I made my way outside, where a wheelchair accessible shuttle quickly picked me up. The Graceland mansion is just across the street from the ticketing office, so the shuttle ride only took about 5 minutes. During the ride, a guide gave me an iPad and an audio headset. She explained that while I was in the mansion, descriptions of each room would be given over the headset by none other than John Stamos (Uncle Jesse from Full House, remember?), and Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie, would chime in with special stories every now and then also. Apparently John is a huge Elvis fan and he actually named his character on Full House after Elvis’ twin brother Jesse, who was stillborn, as a tribute.
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 elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible
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The Graceland Mansion

Once I arrived at the mansion, I exited the shuttle and was taken to a room where I watched a short video. The video was only about 5-7 minutes long, but it gave a nice overview of Elvis Presley’s life and career. Since I didn’t know a whole lot about Elvis beforehand, it was a perfect introduction to him and Graceland. It made me excited to see what all Graceland had to offer. After the video finished, I was escorted to the main entrance of the Graceland mansion, which is wheelchair accessible with a long ramp straight to the door. I anticipated the front door opening and couldn’t wait to get inside.
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 elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible
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Once the door opened, my self-guided (with the help of an iPad and John Stamos) tour began. The first room that I saw was the living room, which was beautifully decorated with a Christmas tree since I visited in early December. There were pictures of Elvis and his family throughout the house as well. It was all beautiful, but reminiscent of what it looked like when Elvis actually lived at Graceland in the late 1960s-early 70s. There were no flat-screen TVs or other nifty electronics. Instead, there were old box TVs and it truly felt like I had rolled back in time as I wandered throughout the house.
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Elvis bought Graceland in 1957 for just a little over $100,000 and lived there until he died in 1977. In those 20 years, he had his only child, Lisa Marie Presley, with his then wife Priscilla and he truly turned Graceland into the home he always wanted. I could imagine, as I rolled from room-to-room, what the mansion was like when the entire Presley family lived there. Elvis was very family-focused and loved nothing more than spending time with them.
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Elvis' wife, Priscilla, and daughter, Lisa Marie

Elvis’ wife, Priscilla, and daughter, Lisa Marie

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After admiring the living room for a bit, I moved on to the dining room and kitchen. The dining room was also decorated with a Christmas tree and had a beautiful chandelier hanging above the dining table. Connected to the dining room was the kitchen, which was spacious, but older and more simplistic than the rest of the house. The kitchen actually reminded me of my great grandmother’s kitchen. It was nothing fancy, but supposedly there was always a lot of action in Elvis’ kitchen. On the headset, it said that there were always people coming in and out of the kitchen, and the TV in the kitchen was always on.
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As I exited the kitchen, I made my way to Elvis’ mother’s bedroom. Elvis wanted his mother to live in the mansion with him and she did, but only for a year, as she passed away just one year after Elvis bought Graceland. Her room was simple, but nice, and I could see her closet also, where some of her clothes were still hanging.
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There are only two rooms that are not wheelchair accessible on the tour. They are the TV room and the pool room, both down a flight of stairs in the basement. If you would like to see what they look like though, and hear about them, you can listen to the audio-tour of those two rooms via the iPad. The upstairs area is also not accessible, but it is closed off to everyone. It’s a private area and some people believe that Elvis still lives upstairs, but whether that’s true or not… who knows?
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The last room in the mansion that I was able to see was the notorious Jungle Room. A guide took me out the main front entrance and around the property to the back entrance so that I could visit this room, as it’s not accessible to go down to the Jungle Room from inside the mansion. The Jungle Room was extremely unique with green shagged carpet and exotically carved woods. This was Elvis’ favorite room in the entire house because it reminded him of his favorite part of the world, Hawaii. Before I visited Graceland, some people told me “Oh, you have to see the Jungle Room!!” and I’m happy to say that it lived up to its expectations.
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Now that I had seen all of the inside of the mansion, it was time to explore the other parts of the 14 acre Graceland property. Just behind the mansion sits Vernon’s office. Vernon was Elvis’ father and he managed his son’s personal finances and he managed the staffing at Graceland. I was able to go inside Vernon’s office building and saw his desk and some Elvis memorabilia that was scattered around the office. The business of Elvis was truly a family affair.
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 elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible
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The next building that I went into was the Trophy Building. As the name suggests, many of Elvis’ accolades are housed in here, but there was also some cool and unique artifacts. Some of my favorites were Elvis’ set of keys to the Graceland mansion, some of Lisa Marie’s toys, and family photographs of the Presley’s.
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The last building at the Graceland mansion that I toured was the Racquetball Building. That’s right, Elvis loved the game of racquetball so much that he had a court built on the Graceland property. In this building there was also a lobby area complete with a pinball machine and a piano. As you can probably tell, Elvis worked hard, but he liked to have a lot of fun as well.
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Before getting back on the shuttle, I visited the outdoor Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family are buried. The grave sites of Elvis, his twin brother Jesse, his mom Gladys, his father Vernon, and his grandmother Minnie are all here. It was a somber experience to see their graves after learning so much about them and touring their house. I payed my respects to the King of Rock-n-Roll and went back toward the shuttle to depart the mansion and head over to the new entertainment complex.
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Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex

The mansion is an attraction worthy of visiting all its own, but to add even more to your Elvis experience, visit the all new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex, located beside the ticketing office. This new complex is completely wheelchair accessible and opened on March 2nd, 2017 at the cost of $45 million. The complex is expansive (more than 200,000 square feet!!) and houses the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum, Presley Motors Automobile Museum, a soundstage, restaurants, souvenir shops, and more. I absolutely loved visiting the Graceland mansion, but these new exhibits seemed to bring everything to life… even more so.
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Elvis was a huge fan of cars, so my first stop at Elvis Presley’s Memphis was the Presley Motors Automobile Museum. Before entering, I expected this museum to be on the small side with maybe 5-6 of Elvis’ cars. Wow, was I wrong! The automobile museum was huge and had dozens of Elvis’ favorite cars! Each car had a description written in front of it, but some of my favorites were the iconic 1955 pink Cadillac, which Elvis gave to his mom once he made it big in the music industry, and the “surf car” that was featured in Elvis’ 1966 movie Easy Come Easy Go. The seats in this car were made out of surfboards and it was brightly colored. There were also plenty of other cars on display, including Rolls Royce’s. I’m not even a big fan of cars, but these were all fun to look at.
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The highlight of the new entertainment complex is undoubtedly the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum and I was tremendously looking forward to checking it out. I spent probably 45 minutes to an hour in this museum admiring everything, and I really could have stayed longer. The career museum had Elvis’ gold and platinum records, memorabilia from his movies, and *drumroll please* many of Elvis’ legendary jumpsuits on display! The jumpsuits were my favorite artifacts to look at of course and I really wanted to try one on, but that wasn’t possible. If you do want to buy a jumpsuit of your own though, you can for several thousand dollars in the gift shop. It won’t be one that Elvis actually owned, but it will look just like them.
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Another exhibit that I really enjoyed in the new entertainment complex was called “Icons” and this exhibit showed Elvis’ influence on music and movies today. Superstars ranging from Dolly Parton to KISS and Carrie Underwood (and many more) discussed the impact that Elvis has had on their careers. It was pretty profound to see exactly how much he has changed the entertainment industry.
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In addition to the museums inside the entertainment complex, you can dine at one of the restaurants. There is Vernon’s Smokehouse, which serves barbecue, and Gladys’ Diner, a 50’s style diner serving American classics and some of Elvis’ favorite foods, including a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Yum!! I didn’t have a chance to dine at either restaurant, but they did look nice and I’ll be sure to try them next time.
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I spent nearly 4 hours enjoying everything that Graceland had to offer. I literally stayed until they were closing the doors and if they wouldn’t have been closing, I could have happily stayed another hour or so admiring everything. If you’re a big Elvis fan or just want to learn as much as possible about him, I’d highly suggest arriving to Graceland as early as you can to have the most time to see everything.
 .elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible 
And if you are wanting to have the ultimate Elvis inspired adventure, you could stay at The Guest House at Graceland like I did. The Guest House opened in 2016 and is just across the street from the Graceland ticketing office. There’s truly no better place to stay in Memphis. Learn more about the Guest House in this article of mine.
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Guest House at Graceland

Guest House at Graceland

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I started the weekend knowing hardly anything about Elvis Presley and his family, and ended the weekend as a new fan. Elvis’ influence on our world is honestly remarkable and there’s no better place to learn about him than at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
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Long live the King of Rock-n-Roll!

 elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible

*Thank you, thank you very much (in Elvis’ voice) to Elvis Presley’s Graceland for this experience! While my tour was complimentary, all opinions are authentic and my own.
elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible
elvis presley graceland wheelchair accessible

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