Graceland's Phase II expansion slated to open Next spring

To cap off this year’s Elvis Week festivities, Graceland has unveiled plans for its biggest expansion since the popular tourist attraction opened in the early 1980s. Elvis: Past, Present & Future will open in spring 2017 - bringing more new jobs to the Whitehaven area - and the $45 million Phase II expansion will feature a new Elvis Presley Career Museum, Automobile Museum, Performance Soundstage, restaurants and retail.

Graceland will also partner with the family of Sun Records’ Legendary Founder Sam Phillips to showcase artifacts from the family archives for a new permanent exhibit.

“We are thrilled to bring Elvis fans the opportunity to explore the things that Elvis loved and what he would have loved today – the music, the technology, the experiences,” said Joel Weinshanker, Graceland  Holdings, LLC managing partner, in a prepared statement. “Elvis: Past Present & Future will enable our visitors to live a day in the life of Elvis Presley. Whether you’ve been to Graceland multiple times or have yet to make the trip, we know that you will be entertained, educated and inspired like never before.”
The project brings the total reinvestment into the Whitehaven community by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. to approximately $137 million. Graceland’s Phase I expansion consisted of the construction of the $92 million, 450-room The Guest House at Graceland, which is on schedule to open in late Oct.
Construction is already underway on the 200,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, which will measure five times the size of the current visitor center. A 20,000-square-foot “Elvis: The Entertainer” museum will celebrate Elvis’ music, movie and live touring career, and a revamped Elvis Presley Automobile Museum will showcase more than 20 of Elvis’ automobile and motorized vehicles, including his iconic Pink Cadillac. Plans also include a 200-seat theater space for showcasing Elvis movie clips focused on cars and racing.
New “Discovery” exhibits will depict Elvis’ life, career and interests, while his two custom airplanes, the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II, will remain across the street from the mansion. A new 20,000-square-foot Graceland Soundstage will be available for live music performances, movie screenings and premieres, video productions, and theater seating for up to 2,000 people.

Two new themed restaurants, named after Elvis’ parents, Gladys and Vernon, will also go up inside the complex. Gladys’ Diner will feature classic American food, including Elvis’ favorite: grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Vernon’s Smokehouse will serve authentic Memphis BBQ, smoked in house. A coffee bar and ice cream shop will also be located within the complex, along with new retail stores.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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