Graceland to charge for Elvis Week vigil participation

Graceland to charge for Elvis Week vigil participation

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Visitors from around the world are in Memphis to see Graceland and be part of Elvis's 40th death anniversary.

But the nearly $30 fee to participate in the once-free vigil is causing confusion and frustration.

For the first time ever, Graceland guests will not be able to participate in Elvis' candlelight vigil for free.

In the past, visitors have been able to take part in the event without paying anything extra; that will change this year.

Guests will now need a property pass wristband to enter all non-ticketed areas of the Graceland property during Elvis Week.

This property pass includes Elvis Week Entertainment Tent, Ticket Pavilion, restaurants and select gift shops, and free parking after 5 p.m.

These property pass wristbands are not for individual sale—they are included in Elvis Presley's Memphis tickets.

A one day ticket is $28.75. Additional days are then available at a discounted price.

Despite this, guests will be able to watch the procession at no cost—they will just not be able to participate.

"No, I am not OK with it," said Claudia Hatge, who is visiting from Germany. "It all costs a lot of money for the fans, but to buy a wristband to go to candlelight, it's not OK."

But without these blue wristbands, fans will not be allowed inside the gate.

Elvis Presley Enterprises said the change comes as part of updated security measures due to the large crowds expected over the next few days.

The wristband will give visitors access to Elvis Presley's Memphis and the candlelight vigil.

Friday, Graceland released the following statement:

This year we have updated our security measures at Graceland for Elvis Week, as we anticipate very large crowds for this 40th anniversary.  In order to keep everyone safe and ensure an enjoyable and meaningful event for all, we have worked closely with local, state and federal security authorities to establish new procedures that have been widely used across the US.

An Elvis Week Property Pass wristband now allows guests to enter all non-ticketed parts of Graceland property throughout Elvis Week, including the Elvis Week Entertainment Tent, Ticket Pavilion, restaurants and select gift shops, plus free parking after 5 p.m. This wristband is included with a ticket to Elvis Presley's Memphis during Elvis Week (our lowest priced tour ticket).  Since the vast majority of our guests take our tour as part of their visit during Elvis Week, there is no additional cost to them.

During the Candlelight Vigil evening, we invite everyone to join us on Elvis Presley Blvd. in front of the Mansion. Guests are welcome to stay in this area throughout the evening to watch the Candlelight Vigil ceremony, and observe the procession without a Property Pass.

As with all other Elvis Week events on the Graceland campus, to join the procession up to Meditation Garden, guests will need their Elvis Week Property Pass wristband. For guests who join us for Vigil night only and wish to join the procession, they will be able to purchase an Elvis Presley's Memphis tour ticket that evening and receive their Property Pass.

Graceland provides free walk-ups to Meditation Garden daily throughout the year from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., including the morning of the Candlelight Vigil (8/15), and every evening of Elvis Week, except Vigil evening, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The change comes one year after protesters were arrested at Graceland. They cited poverty and crime as the reasons for the protest.

Even with the change, some fans are willing to shell out the cash, like Jim Grice who is visiting for his third time from Oaklawn, Illinois.

"Times change, and if that's what it takes to have a vigil with Elvis then that's what it takes," Grice said.

Graceland said that fans will be able to continue to partake of free walk-up visits to Presley's grave daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., including Tuesday morning ahead of the Candlelight Vigil.

For Elvis Week tickets, click here.

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