Long live the king

| October 01, 2006

In the town where Elvis was born, Tupelo, Miss., June 1-3 is the time to celebrate The King with impersonators, parades and a pet look-alike contest.

Television host Johnny Carson once said, “If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”

Elvis Presley’s life and musical legacy have been documented down to the last sequin in museums everywhere. Women in bedazzled sweatshirts reading, “Elvis is King,” swear they saw him in the grocery store or at a tiki bar in St. Tropez. And then there are the men who impersonate him, donning either the white Vegas jumpsuit or black high-water pants and a striped jailhouse shirt.

Whichever Elvis era you prefer, you’ll find something to love at these interesting sites dedicated to The King.

Graceland Mansion
Set on Elvis’ choice 14-acre plot of land in Memphis, Tenn., tourists pay a moderate fee to view the jungle den, Elvis’ custom airplanes, the TV room, the pool room and the racquetball building, just to name a few. The ticket office is located across the street from the Corinthian entrance to the house, and a shuttle will take you to the front door.

A new exhibit, “Elvis After Dark,” allows VIP tourists to stay on Graceland grounds after closing and experience how Elvis entertained himself with friends and family after sunset. The exhibit includes Elvis’ thematic “nighttime” clothing, personal items, photos and more. Tourists can only view this exhibit with the purchase of an “Entourage VIP” tour package.

Another new exhibit, “Sincerely Elvis,” takes visitors on a tour of the landmark year 1956, a year that made Elvis’ career and changed pop music forever. A 22-minute film, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” highlights Elvis’ career, and the Automobile Museum contains an interesting collection of Elvis’ road tastes.

The tour ends with a visit to the Meditation Garden to view Elvis’ tombstone and the graves of other family members. Tourists can take an audio tour with comments from Elvis and daughter Lisa Marie, as well as a self-guided tour, depending on the tour package. Packages range from the $22 tour of the mansion to the $55 “Entourage VIP” tour. Reservations are not required but definitely recommended, and you can purchase tickets at this site.

Heartbreak Hotel
For a full Elvis experience, no place brings the King to you like Heartbreak Hotel in Memphis. Indulge yourself in a plush suite full of Elvis-inspired furniture, including a heart-shaped ottoman in the Burning Love Suite, or choose a smaller room with Elvis paintings and memorabilia on every wall. The hotel also features a large, heart-shaped pool for sunny swims or late-night plunges.

Regular guest rooms are priced from $99, and themed suites are priced from $520. And of course, you can always purchase a Graceland Package, which includes a Graceland tour and a few nights of lodging at the Heartbreak Hotel. For other rates and reservations, check out this site.

Sun Records
The day music producer Sam Phillips decided to take a chance on a dark-haired country boy was a day that changed history. Sun Records, now a museum dedicated to Elvis and other music artists made famous in the soundproof booth, is a small but infinitely important monument to the life of Elvis Presley.

Located in downtown Memphis on Union Avenue, the corner brick building features the original sign it had when Elvis first rapped on the front door.

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