Elvis may have left the building decades ago, but for those of us still living and breathing, the king will never die—especially in Las Vegas. On Thursday, April 23, homage was paid to the king with the opening of Elvis: The Exhibition, the first permanent, Graceland-authorized exhibition outside of Memphis; the “Elvis Experience,” a musical production that replicates one of Elvis’ legendary Las Vegas shows; and Elvis Presley’s Graceland Wedding Chapel, all at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, the hotel Elvis helped make famous. (The Westgate was once the International Hotel and the Las Vegas Hilton.)
Vegas is a town that loved, and still loves, Elvis and Elvis in turn loved Las Vegas, so outside of Memphis could there be a better place to keep the King’s memory alive?
“This is where his home was. He loved coming here,” said Priscilla Presley who was on hand with her daughter Lisa Marie to cut the blue-suede ribbon on the exhibition. “It was where he performed.”
According to Angie Marchese, the Director of Archives for Elvis Presley Enterprises, the exhibition at the Westgate differs from what one might see at Graceland.
“When you visit Elvis’ Graceland in Memphis you actually get a chance to kind of see behind the scenes, the private guy, the guy who raised a family and entertained friends at his home in Memphis. Here in Vegas we’re talking about the showman and the guy who really set Vegas on fire.”
The Exhibition, located in the 28,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by “Star Trek: The Experience”, contains never-before-seen artifacts, including Elvis’ high school yearbooks, first Gold Album, 1955 RCA recording contract, 1957 Harley Davidson motorcycle, 1962 Lincoln Continental, 1971 prototype Stutz Blackhawk delivered to Elvis at the International Hotel, coveralls from the film “Viva Las Vegas,” diamond-studded gold International Hotel belt for breaking Las Vegas attendance records, as well as iconic costumes from live performances. Artifacts will be rotated regularly with artifacts from the Graceland Archives to ensure that the exhibit is constantly evolving and remains fresh.
The “Elvis Experience,” starring actor Martin Fontaine and featuring 24 musicians and eight choir members portraying the original musicians and artists on stage with Elvis, takes place in the renovated Elvis Presley Theater at the International Showroom, the same stage where Elvis swiveled his hips and threw sweat-soaked scarves to female fans for 837 consecutive sold-out performances.
Also on Thursday, the Graceland-inspired wedding chapel held its first ceremony with Priscilla Presley presiding as the matron of honor for contest-winning couple Kaycee Satava and Cameron Baker. The wedding took place at 5 a.m. and was broadcast live on NBC’s “Today Show.”
The Exhibition is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are priced at $22, plus service charge.
Tickets for the “Elvis Experience” range from $49 – $80, plus taxes and fees. The show runs through May 30 and is dark Sunday and Monday. It will be followed by other limited-run, Graceland-produced shows.
Click here to purchase tickets.
See the video below.