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Graceland brings Elvis back to his Las Vegas home

February 26, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials with Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. and the Westgate Las Vegas casino-hotel revealed details Thursday of plans for “Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition - The Show - The Experience” expected to open April 23 — 59 years to the day when Elvis first performed in Las Vegas.

Some 28,000 square-feet (2,600 sq. meters) will house a rotating display of memorabilia and artifacts rarely seen outside Graceland’s Memphis, Tennessee, property. In addition, the very showroom where Presley performed several hundred sold-out shows when the casino-hotel was first known as The International and later the Las Vegas Hilton will be revamped by the Graceland crew to look much like it did in Elvis’ day, complete with semi-circle booths.

Plans include a revamped Elvis Presley sanctioned wedding chapel, too, inside the Westgate Las Vegas, with Graceland taking over its operations.

Certainly Elvis-themed wedding chapels already dot Las Vegas and there has been no scarcity of exhibits and shows, including a short-lived tribute by Cirque du Soleil in 2012, but organizers say this is the real deal.

Tickets go on sale Thursday. The exhibit is expected to cost $22 and tickets for performances start at $49.

“We walk into everything with ’what would Elvis want,” said Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of the company that has owned a majority of Elvis Presley Enterprises since November 2013. “Absolutely positively, he would want to be back in Vegas.”

In his place to perform in the same 1,600-seat showroom will be an actor singing Elvis songs, accompanied by backup singers and an orchestra.

David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, said it was destiny that he bought the property in July 2014, decades after seeing Elvis perform there, accompanied by his ex-wife whose godfather happened to be Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker.

And when he did buy it, he said he wanted to bring Elvis back.

As luck would have it, in a town built on it, Weinshanker wanted the same thing and saw in Siegel someone willing to reinvest in the property where Elvis lived on the 30th floor for months of the year.

“It’s really going to be the authentic Elvis experience,” he said.

Angie Marchese, director of archives for Graceland, said the exhibit will be the largest Elvis exhibit outside Graceland. The clothing will come straight from Elvis’ closet in most cases.

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