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Sunday, August 11, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Elvis-Theme-Park Plans May Rock 'N' Roll In Tokyo

Scripps Howard News Service

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Plans are under way to build an $80 million Elvistown USA theme park in Tokyo, an official of Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. said recently.

The theme park in Japan is one of four major projects the company is pursuing, said Jack Soden, Graceland executive director and chief executive officer of Elvis Presley Enterprises. The features are expected to be completed by 1994, Soden said.

Other projects: expanding and relocating the Graceland museum of Presley memorabilia; developing a fine-arts exhibit of Presley portraits from throughout the country and producing a traveling exhibit.

The plans are part of efforts to diversify Elvis Presley Enterprises' interests, Soden said. He would not estimate how much money the projects could mean for the Presley estate, which opened Graceland, Elvis' mansion, to tours in 1982.

More than 670,000 people paid to tour the late singer's home in fiscal year 1991.

Elvis International Tribute Week will be celebrated at Graceland starting today. It runs through Aug. 17. The week commemorates the 14th anniversary of the singer's death on Aug. 16, 1977.

Soden said the Elvistown USA project, begun two years ago, was prompted by the singer's immense popularity in Japan. Japanese business people approached Graceland officials with several ideas, including building a duplicate of Graceland in Japan, he said.

However, Graceland planners developed their own idea - a six-acre theme park duplicating an American town of the 1950s.

Financing is being arranged by the Japanese Development Bank.

Although other investors would finance the project, Elvis Presley Enterprises would "license our design, our trademark, our copyright, our intellectual properties and our management," Soden said.

The company also would receive a percentage of ticket and food sales, he said.

Soden expects to have financing and land within a year.

The indoor park will include shops, restaurants, night clubs, a pool hall, a vintage-car dealership, a 40,000-square-foot Elvis museum and space for exhibits, Soden said. It will be operated much like the Disney parks.

Visiting the park will be like visiting an American '50s-era town, Soden said. The town will be staffed by Americans.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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