Graceland for groups: The timeless appeal of Elvis - NTA Courier
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Graceland for groups: The timeless appeal of Elvis

By Todd Probus
July 11, 2024

Some attractions are so closely-identified with their city that it’s hard to think of one without the other. Such is definitely the case in Memphis, where NTA-member Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley, greets over 600,000 guests each year, making it the second-most visited home in the United States, second only to the White House.

Graceland has been welcoming visitors since 1982, five years after the passing of its famous resident. So why do guests continue to flock to the iconic estate? As John Roddy, tour and travel sales manager at Graceland explains, “Graceland is such a lasting destination for visitors worldwide, even decades after Elvis’ passing, because Elvis Presley is timeless. His music is timeless, his movies are timeless, and they’re full of joy and happiness that appeal to everyone.” 

Not only is Elvis’ appeal timeless, it’s intergenerational as well. “Most people visiting Graceland have a story about their mother, grandmother, or someone else in their family who was a massive Elvis fan, and their visit to Graceland brings back memories,” Roddy says. “It’s also a great place for families to visit, making Elvis a bond that brings them closer together.”

Those who have never visited Graceland may wrongly assume that it’s simply a large, beautiful estate. But as Roddy points out, it’s much more than just a home. “Graceland has so many things to offer, including 10 exhibits inside a state-of-the-art entertainment and exhibit complex that is over 200,000 square feet in size,” he says. Roddy specifically notes the “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” exhibit, which brings to life the icon’s relationship with the city itself.

Another exhibit sure to draw repeat visitors is Graceland’s recently expanded “Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley,” containing never-before-seen items spanning the life of Elvis’ only child, who passed away in 2023. These items include outfits worn by Lisa Marie, a tambourine she played on stage, and framed family photos that were displayed in her home. Guests can even see her personal golf cart, school yearbooks, and report cards.

Photo by David Meany/Contiki Purchase/Memphis CVB

Of course, the exhibits that most often come to mind when people think of Graceland are those that pay tribute to Elvis’ larger-than-life personality. Roddy specifically mentions the opportunity for guests to step aboard Elvis’ customized airplane, affectionately named The Lisa Marie, which includes a living room, conference room, and private bedroom, as well as unique touches such as gold-plated seatbelts, leather-covered tables, and 24-karat-gold-flecked sinks.

While any time of year is ideal for a trip to Graceland, groups may especially enjoy the estate around the holidays. Roddy notes that Graceland offers special Christmas tours featuring live tour guides throughout the mansion, sharing stories of what it was like to spend the holidays with the King of Rock and Roll. He adds that “Graceland is also decked out with Elvis’ traditional holiday decorations inside and out, which includes extensive lawn displays.” 

Speaking of Christmas, the recently-opened Enesco Gallery and Gift Shop, located on the Graceland property, features the world’s largest display of the popular Department 56 Village collection. Roddy explains that it’s a permanent display, “featuring more than 1,500 individual Christmas and holiday village pieces, a can’t-miss experience during any Graceland visit.”

Graceland obviously welcomes individual visitors and families,and the attraction is uniquely tailored for group experiences as well. “The Ballroom can be configured for various sizes of groups up to 1,200 people,” Roddy says. “There are also several smaller rooms available for meetings, as well as a 464-seat theater that is perfect for speakers, films, and live entertainment. We also offer unique spaces for dinners and receptions, along with a variety of restaurants that offer everything from fine dining to casual barbecue and more.”

Graceland, also a member of Faith Travel Association, boasts offerings that may be of interest to faith groups. “Gospel music was very important to Elvis,” Roddy explains, “and was a huge influence in his career, even as a young boy growing up in Tupelo. Elvis and his family used to sit around the music room, play the piano, and sing gospel tunes. Elvis added the Meditation Garden to the property in 1965 as a place for tranquility and personal retreats.” 

Roddy also notes that, although Elvis was nominated for 14 Grammys, he won only three—all for gospel music. Faith groups can also hold services in the Chapel in the Woods, which is situated between Graceland and The Guest House, Graceland’s on-site resort hotel.

“The Guest House welcomes music fans, Graceland guests, Memphis visitors, and groups from around the world with Southern hospitality, royal treatment, and luxurious amenities that would make King himself proud”, Roddy says, noting that the hotel is ideal not only for its location, but for its unique features as well. 

“The Guest House has so much to offer groups, including the theater, which shows Elvis movies nightly; two restaurants; a swimming pool; and outdoor firepits and activities that are fun for everyone,” he says. “And, of course, the late-night PB&J bar!”

While there is a steady stream of special events happening at Graceland, group leaders may want to begin planning now for a visit in 2025, which marks what would have been Elvis’ 90th birthday. Roddy says that Graceland will host a large celebration welcoming fans from around the world to mark this special occasion. For more information on Graceland and The Guest House at Graceland, contact Roddy. For more information about NTA’s Faith Travel Association, contact Todd Probus, director of member solutions and education.

Top photo by Graceland and The Guest House at Graceland

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July 11, 2024

Some attractions are so closely-identified with their city that it’s hard to think of one without the other. Such is definitely the case in Memphis, ...