Did you see this recent announcement on Graceland.com?
Part of it could be good for Elvis fans going to Las Vegas… if you bring enough money. “Elvis Is Back in the Building” refers to a partnership between EPE and the Westgate Las Vegas Resort. If that name is unfamiliar to you, it used to be called the Las Vegas Hilton, and it is where Elvis performed over 600 concerts from 1969 to 1976. The showroom he once dominated is now renamed the Elvis Presley Theater. From April 23 to May 31, it will be home to the “Elvis Experience,” a large-scale production replicating one of Elvis’ legendary Las Vegas shows. It stars Martin Fontaine and features 24 musicians and eight-member choir. According to the press release, “This critically-acclaimed production will take guests back to the early 1970s to fully experience one of the king’s sold out Las Vegas concerts.”
A little research shows that Canadian entertainer Martin Fontaine is a solid member of the top tier of Elvis Tribute Artists. He has been performing for almost twenty years, and has had an ongoing show at the Capital Theater in Quebec City.
Priscilla took in his show last year and had great things to say about him. Here’s a shocker. That is Martin Fontaine next to her. He wears an Elvis wig when he does the show.
Here’s what he looks like when wearing a jumpsuit and the wig. He looks pretty good, doesn’t he?
The “Elvis Experience” will be a single show every evening Tuesday through Saturday from April 23 to May 31. Cheapest seats are $59.85, and the near-stage ones in those semi-circular booths will go for $93.95. So what do you think, will enough folks fork over that much money for an Elvis Tribute show to fill up that large venue five nights a week? EPE is hedging their bets. After this five week trial run, the theater will feature “other limited-run, Graceland-produced live shows.” Who knows what that means?
The other major feature mentioned in the EPE news release is “ELVIS: The Exhibition.” The Las Vegas Sun reported it “will encompass more than 28,000 square feet of the former Star Trek:The Exhibit space and include hundreds of artifacts from the Graceland archives.
Some of the artifacts include Elvis’ high school yearbooks, first gold album, 1957 Harley Davidson motorcycle, 1962 Lincoln Continental, 1971 Stutz Blackhawk, jewelry and stage wear, including the outfit worn onstage for his first concert at the International Hotel in 1969. Select artifacts will be rotated regularly with those in the Graceland archives to keep the exhibit fresh. Graceland-produced videos will be prominent, including a 26-minute retrospective on Elvis’ greatest performances.
The exhibit will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and tickets are $22, plus taxes and fees, but they are being sold only for the same five-week period as the tribute show. Why?
The last item in the news release really caught my eye. “Another exciting feature will be the new, “Elvis Presley’s Graceland Wedding Chapel.” It is also scheduled to open on April 23, but information on the chapel and its special packages will not be announced until later in March.
It is safe to say that this will put a hurt on the Las Vegas wedding chapels with an Elvis theme. So, let’s take a look at a few of them and spotlight some of their unique offerings that might help them survive.
An Elvis Chapel:
I’m not sure how these folks got away with that name without hearing from Graceland’s lawyers. One of their packages includes an Elvis/Marilyn Monroe combination wedding. I doubt that the official EPE sanctioned chapel will do that.
Graceland Wedding Chapel:
These clever folks have a package that includes dueling Elvises: You know, EPE might actually try that idea.
A Little White Chapel:
See where the sign says 24 Hr Drive Up Wedding Window? We can be pretty sure Graceland’s Elvis Chapel won’t include that.
This window is inside what they call The Tunnel of Love. So, if you want to get married inside, it provides a covered shelter for your friend’s bikes in case of rain.
Chapel Bar and Elvis Shrine:
This is my favorite. A travelling party bus where sixteen of your friends can join you for your marriage ceremony and reception. Then you get a tour of Las Vegas with return to your hotel.
Although the “Elvis Presley’s Graceland Wedding Chapel” won’t be doing most of this stuff, you can be sure they will attract a lot of business away from the established chapels in town.
It does seem that Graceland likes to control or at least dominate all-things-Elvis. We’ve seen it before with the tribute artists.
Then came the auctions of Elvis memorabilia.
Now it’s the Vegas Elvis Wedding Chapels.
What’s next? I have an idea.
I can just see it now: The EPE officially sanctioned Velvet Elvis Art Gallery
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