Now, Graceland is not exactly in a fabulous part of town, but the Heartbreak Hotel and associated campground are fenced off and there's a guard shack where you have to stop and prove you have a reservation before they let you in. We had already eaten dinner before we got to town, so we didn't actually leave the Graceland area at any point, but it never felt unsafe.
I had read mixed reviews about the hotel, so I wasn't sure what to expect. You can tell it's an older hotel, but it was comfortable and clean. We ended up reserving a packaged deal where we got the room and 2 adult VIP tour tickets and I think it was worth it. I only had two real complaints, first, the elevator was scary. It reminded me of the Tower of Terror ride at Disney:
My other complaint was that the bathroom light was tied to a very loud exhaust fan. When we're in hotels, we usually leave the bathroom light on with the door cracked so the girls aren't scared and can easily find the bathroom in the night. That wasn't possible here, so we moved a lamp from the desk to the bathroom instead.
There was a refrigerator and microwave in the room. The air conditioner was pretty loud, but it was so cold when we got in that we just turned it off for the night and it was fine. The free breakfast in the morning was standard fare, my only complaint there was that the coffee wasn't any good. After breakfast, we were able to walk over for our Graceland tour without having to move the car at all (even though we chose to check out before the tours). Of course, there is Elvis everywhere, because that's what it's all about. I'm not a huge Elvis fan, but if you are, it'd probably be pretty neat to see all the pictures, movies and decorations.
So after breakfast, we headed over to the ticket office to trade our voucher for tickets and buy Sierra's ticket (kids 6 and under are free, so Sedona didn't need a ticket)
I had seen some complaints online about having to be shuttled across the street, but I thought they had a pretty good set-up. There was a line to wait for a bus, but it moved quickly. I think we waited 10 or 15 minutes, but in that time, we took pictures, got our audio headsets and listened to the intro track about how to use the headsets. But yes, you are waiting for a bus to just take you across the street
A couple of minutes later, you pull up to the front door of Graceland
They do have everyone that was on the same bus (they are the small, shuttle buses) wait outside to go in as a group. This is more traffic control than anything else and once inside, you don't really have to stay with your group the whole time. You are kind of on your own with your audio tour and can hang back if you want to look longer or tag on to the back of the group ahead of you if you want to speed up.
You start out with the living room and it's a little bit of a shock. While it's all pretty gaudy, the house is not nearly as big as I expected.
Dining room. Did I mention gaudy? This level of fancy isn't exactly my thing.
Back on the ticket office side of the street, we visited the automobile museum.
We just had to go through his plane, the Lisa Marie, before we left though. The kids had no frame of reference for what a private jet is like and I wanted to show them.
Since we had driven into Tennessee at night, in the rain, surrounded by large trucks and construction, we didn't get to really check anything out. So on the way out of town, when I saw a sign for a Tennessee welcome center, I decided to make a pit stop.
The girls immediately spotted the monorail and asked if we could ride it (no, we didn't...there are only so many hours in a day)
will be opening a mega (to say the least) store in December.
Now, the slow pace would not have been a problem except that I, in all my wisdom, had made 8pm reservations for a show in Branson. More on that in a bit. We had chosen to reserve an all inclusive package in Branson at a place called Grand Country Inn. The package included our room, all meals and snacks, unlimited mini golf, unlimited shows at Grand Country, their indoor water park, and tickets to the Dixie Stampede Show. For a few reasons, we reserved our Dixie Stampede tickets for 8pm on the day we'd be arriving. I knew this would be a tight fit, but it should have been doable. After getting slowed down on the road and a little turned around in town, we actually ended up pulling up to the hotel at 7:30. Yikes! This would still have been doable, but when we walked in, the worst hotel receptionist ever totally ruined our evening. She was eating pizza at the counter. As grease oozed through her napkin and onto the papers on the desk, she looked and acted completely ticked off that we were interrupting her dinner. Then she acted like we were the stupidest people on the face of the Earth for asking if we could make the 8pm show. She told us (as if everyone in the world knows this) that you have to pick up the tickets before 4:30! No one had told us this, so I got a bit angry at this point because she was acting as if we just wouldn't get to go at all. When we asked for a manager, she had to call one at home. This is a HUGE complex of hotel, restaurants and entertainment places, they really didn't have a manager on the premises?! Eventually, another employee stepped in, called Dixie Stampede and got our tickets changed to the next evening. The girls said in an awed voice as we got to our room that "grandma and momma had a civilized fight with that lady".
When we got to our room, everything was clean and the beds were comfortable, but there we no towels or washcloths at all! I called the front desk, got the same terrible employee, who acted like she didn't know who I was. The icing on the cake was when I plugged in my phone (which had died on the road) and found a voicemail. The Dixie Stampede had called us at 7:20 asking if we were still coming to the show!! Had the snotty hotel employee just picked up the phone and ASKED, we still could have gone. Of course, at this point, the hotel had already changed the tickets, so we couldn't go. All in all, an infuriating run in with someone who really needs a new job.
We still needed dinner and to make the best of a frustrating situation, so we hit the pizza buffet and then a round of mini-golf. Sedona needed a little help at first (and we forgot to turn the flash back on after Graceland)
She got better with a little practice though
Yes, that was ALL one day. We all crashed into bed and looked forward to our time in Branson, which was very loosely planned and left room for last minute decisions and even a tiny bit of relaxation.
Next up, the Branson section of our trip...the Dixie Stampede, Amazing Pets, Silver Dollar City and the Titanic Museum!