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Elvis Presley's Graceland opens a new $45 million complex

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/2/2017 By ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press
Bruce Lutes, of Danville, Ill., poses for a photo in a souvenir shop as he visits the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Lutes, a lifelong Elvis fan, said the trip to Graceland was a Christmas gift from his wife. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Bruce Lutes, of Danville, Ill., poses for a photo in a souvenir shop as he visits the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Lutes, a lifelong Elvis fan, said the trip to Graceland was a Christmas gift from his wife. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Nearly four decades after Elvis sang his last tune, his legacy got a $45 million boost with the Thursday opening of a major new attraction at his Graceland estate -- an entertainment complex that Priscilla Presley says gives "the full gamut" of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

A fan takes a picture during the opening ceremony for the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million complex replaces the aging buildings that have housed Presley-related exhibits for years. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press A fan takes a picture during the opening ceremony for the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million complex replaces the aging buildings that have housed Presley-related exhibits for years. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

About 200 people streamed into "Elvis Presley's Memphis" after the late singer's wife cut a ribbon and allowed fans to see the $45 million complex for the first time.

Priscilla Presley, former wife of Elvis Presley, speaks during the grand opening of the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex on Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Nearly four decades after Elvis sang his last tune, his legacy got a $45 million boost with the opening of a major new attraction at his Graceland estate -- an entertainment complex that Priscilla Presley says gives "the full gamut" of the King of Rock 'n' Roll. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Priscilla Presley, former wife of Elvis Presley, speaks during the grand opening of the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex on Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Nearly four decades after Elvis sang his last tune, his legacy got a $45 million boost with the opening of a major new attraction at his Graceland estate -- an entertainment complex that Priscilla Presley says gives "the full gamut" of the King of Rock 'n' Roll. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Resembling an outdoor mall, the 200,000-square-foot campus sits across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home-turned-museum. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores.

People view a TV with a bullet hole that is on display at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The damaged television is one of several that Presley shot because he didn't like what -- or who -- was being shown. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press People view a TV with a bullet hole that is on display at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The damaged television is one of several that Presley shot because he didn't like what -- or who -- was being shown. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

"You're getting the full gamut of who Elvis Presley was," Priscilla Presley said during an interview after the grand opening. "You're getting to see and participate a bit in his life and what he enjoyed and what he loved to collect."

Visitors take a selfie in front of Elvis Presley's pink 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood on display at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Visitors take a selfie in front of Elvis Presley's pink 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood on display at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

It's part of a $140 million expansion, which also includes a $90 million, 450-room hotel that opened last year. The complex replaces the aging buildings that have housed Presley-related exhibits for years. An old, gray, strip-mall style visitor center will be torn down to make room for a greenspace along Elvis Presley Boulevard, the street that runs in front of the house.

Gregg Erickson, of Elburn, Ill., pulls out a drawer of Elvis Presley memorabilia at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The opening of the $45 million complex comes just before the 40th anniversary of Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Gregg Erickson, of Elburn, Ill., pulls out a drawer of Elvis Presley memorabilia at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The opening of the $45 million complex comes just before the 40th anniversary of Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Graceland has been updating its tourist experience. Visitors now use iPads for self-guided tours of the house. The new Guest House at Graceland, with modern amenities like glass-encased showers with wall-mounted body sprays and Keurig coffee makers in room, has replaced the crumbling Heartbreak Hotel, which is scheduled for demolition.

A woman watches the Elvis Presley film "King Creole" in a theater in the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press A woman watches the Elvis Presley film "King Creole" in a theater in the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

"We want to keep updating ... If you don't keep up with what's going on in the times, you get left out," Priscilla Presley said. She was joined at the ribbon-cutting by Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden and Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of Graceland Holdings.

Some of Elvis Presley's performance outfits are displayed at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Some of Elvis Presley's performance outfits are displayed at the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The opening comes just before the 40th anniversary of Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42.

Arlene Giblin, front left, of Sandusky, Ohio, and Laurie Gonzalez, of Bellevue, Ohio, look over ticket options as they wait in the ticket line in the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Arlene Giblin, front left, of Sandusky, Ohio, and Laurie Gonzalez, of Bellevue, Ohio, look over ticket options as they wait in the ticket line in the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played; a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants and retail stores. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Adults pay $57.50 for a standard tour of the house and access to the complex. Visitors can also choose to tour just the house for a lower price. Discounts are offered for seniors and children. A self-guided tour of two airplanes owned by Presley is $5 more.

Elvis Presley fans enter the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Elvis Presley fans enter the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

From the ticketing area, people line up to wait for buses that take visitors to the museum, or they can move through the entertainment complex's large, high-ceilinged buildings.

Laurie Harvat, of Chicago, makes pictures as she arrives for the grand opening of the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Laurie Harvat, of Chicago, makes pictures as she arrives for the grand opening of the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Gladys' Diner — named after the singer's mother — has the feel of a 1950s eatery, complete with pictures of Presley, aqua-colored chairs and stations where patrons can order hot dogs, burgers and ice cream.

Priscilla Presley, center, cuts the ribbon with Jack Soden, left, Elvis Presley Enterprises president, and Joel Weinshanker, Graceland Holdings managing partner, during the grand opening of the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) © The Associated Press Priscilla Presley, center, cuts the ribbon with Jack Soden, left, Elvis Presley Enterprises president, and Joel Weinshanker, Graceland Holdings managing partner, during the grand opening of the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. The $45 million entertainment complex, located across the street from Graceland, Presley's longtime home, features exhibits and restaurants focused on his life and career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

There's also Presley's favorite: Gladys' World Famous Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, fried in bacon grease. Another PB&B sandwich is cooked in butter.

FILE - In this May 7, 2016 file photo, Priscilla Presley attends "To the Rescue: Saving Animal Lives" Gala and Fundraiser held at Paramount Pictures Studio in Los Angeles. A $45 million entertainment complex featuring exhibits and restaurants focused on the life and career of Elvis Presley is scheduled to open at Graceland in Memphis. Priscilla Presley, the former wife of the late rock 'n' roll icon, is scheduled to appear at the grand opening of the complex in Tennessee on Thursday, March 2, 2017.(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 7, 2016 file photo, Priscilla Presley attends "To the Rescue: Saving Animal Lives" Gala and Fundraiser held at Paramount Pictures Studio in Los Angeles. A $45 million entertainment complex featuring exhibits and restaurants focused on the life and career of Elvis Presley is scheduled to open at Graceland in Memphis. Priscilla Presley, the former wife of the late rock 'n' roll icon, is scheduled to appear at the grand opening of the complex in Tennessee on Thursday, March 2, 2017.(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Across a wide walkway lies the automobile museum, filled with some of Presley's favorite toys. Among them is a pink 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood — a custom painted model that he gave to his mother — and a sleek, black 1973 Stutz Blackhawk that he drove the day he died.

The walkway leads to the 20,000-square foot museum called "Elvis: The Entertainer," which features white and purple jumpsuits he wore during concerts and gold-colored guitars he played on stage.

Several retail stores line the complex. A second restaurant, a barbecue joint called Vernon's Smokehouse — named after Presley's father — will also open. So will an exhibition focused on Sam Phillips, the Sun Records producer and rock 'n' roll pioneer who recorded Presley for the first time.

The complex is still being finished. Priscilla Presley said there's a warehouse full of artifacts, ready for display.

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Among the fans eager to get a glimpse at the new exhibits was Carol Carey, a retiree who made the short trip across the state line from Southaven, Mississippi, with her son.

Wearing a pink shirt with the words "Wild About Graceland" on it, Carey beamed a wide smile as she talked about the complex.

"We couldn't wait to see it," she said. "We've been here every other day, checking it out. Getting used to saying goodbye to the old, and seeing friends who are all taking pictures of everything."

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