Since the Elvis Exhibit at Westgate Las Vegas opened earlier this year, I have visited 3 times. It holds a very special place in my heart, not only because of my love for Elvis but also by how closely I feel our lives are connected and how similar our relationship with Las Vegas is.
Here's a little history on the Westgate. The Westgate Hotel and Casino is now one of the oldeststill in existence in it's original building in Las Vegas. When it opened in 1969 it was named the International Hotel. The International was sold to Hilton properties in 1970 and renamed the Las Vegas Hilton in 1971. Elvis opened in the International showroom on July 31,1969 and performed 58 consecutive sold out shows, breaking all Las Vegas audience attendance records in history. He would perform again at the property in February of 1970, August of 1970 (famously showcased in his 1970 film Elvis: That's The Way It Is), August of 1972 and again in December of 1976. Elvis even loved the property so much he lived in the penthouse on the 30th floor during his residencies. The property was renamed the LVH in 2008, then sold to Westgate Resorts and renamed the Westgate Las Vegas in 2014.
When the property was renamed it was also announced that Elvis's presence would be known again. A brand new permanent exhibit with items direct from the Graceland archives was brought in. The very idea of an exhibit in this building dedicated to the man that made it famous was a novel idea that was a long time coming.
The exhibit is beautifully done. It takes you on a journey throughout Elvis's life. It is a soul stirring experience if you can let yourself take it all in and you can truly feel Elvis's presence around you.
The beginning of the exhibit takes you back to Tupelo and Elvis's humble beginnings in Memphis as a young truck driver with a dream of becoming a singer.
There are several items I think some of the most seasoned Elvis fans haven't seen. For example Elvis's tassel from his graduation cap from Humes High in 1953.
Can you spot Elvis in his ROTC group photo?
Then it takes you through his first recording experience at Sun studio, his rise to fame to RCA, his army stint and his movie career.
The orange racing suit Elvis wore in his 1964 film co-starring Ann Margret Viva Las Vegas
And my personal favorite part of the exhibit is his return to the stage in the International showroom in Las. Vegas. There's something about being in the very building with the very clothes and items used during this time that is almost surreal. It takes you back in time and you can almost imagine that Elvis is still playing in the showroom nightly.
The blue suit Elvis wore to sign his initial contract with the International while it was still under construction in 1969. (the picture beside.)
There are several jumpsuits as well as personal items on display throughout the rest of the tour. Just a sampling are shown here:
A review of Elvis's first performance at the International on July 31,1969.
The suits Elvis wore onstage and to the press conference immediately following his performance on opening night.
The grand finale is a beautifully done documentary taking you on a journey throughout Elvis's remarkable career. It shows his talent, his charisma, his passion and his heart and brings me to tears every time I watch it.
I have nothing but good things to say about this exhibit. It truly is a tribute fit for a king. (Yeah I had to go there, forgive me for that one cliche.) I have the highest recommendations of it and am so thankful Elvis has rightfully taken back his place in Las Vegas history because of it.
Elvis IS back in the building! (He never truly left. ;))