The Grand Ole Opry Backstage Tour is one of Nashville's hot ticket item experiences.
It’s the coolest behind-the-scenes experience in all of Music City — the Backstage Tour at the Grand Ole Opry House! If you have a devoted country fan in your family of any age, this is one hot ticket item.
The one-hour guided tour takes you inside the magnificent back-of-house environment at the legendary Opry House where country music’s best and brightest perform three nights every week. The tour starts with a video introduction from Blake Shelton covering the Opry’s history dating back to its WSM Barn Dance days in 1925 and the Ryman Auditorium years from 1943 – 1974. The current Grand Ole Opry House made its debut on March 16, 1974, and every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night boasts a wide array of country talent from legends to new artists.
Your knowledgeable tour guide then takes you throughout the backstage area of the building including the artists’ star walk entrance featuring Minnie Pearl’s fountain. You’ll also learn about the house outside of the building — it belonged to “King of Country” Roy Acuff. The house was built specifically for him, and he lived there for 15 years. As your guide explains, this story is typical of the country music family, and “family” is the operative word here. There’s a big sense of it among country artists, and you’ll get a good dose of it via stories and anecdotes along the halls of this tour.
Next, you’ll get to go into “Studio A,” a functioning TV studio where episodes of the classic Hee Haw show was taped. Fans of ABC’s Nashville will enjoy the stories about episodes of the hit show filmed here, and there’s a few Nashville artifacts including costumes on display plus a video of Chip Esten (“Deacon”) filling you in on the details. If you have younger kids who love the show, this is a fun stop for them on the tour.
One of the many amazing sights to see is the Grand Ole Opry Post Office. This ornate area where the artists check in has an actual post office box for every current Opry member — and yes, they receive fan mail here (to date, Garth Brooks still receives the most). The boxes are arranged in alphabetical order by the artists’ names — Brad Paisley’s is 162; Dolly Parton’s is 163; Brooks’ is 103. The only exception to the rule here is the mailbox belonging to Little Jimmy Dickens (mailbox number 144) — his had to remain at a height he could reach due to his short stature.
While at the Post Office area, your guide shares fun facts like before Alan Jackson’s rise to country stardom, he used to be the mailman here. You’ll learn how country stars get to play on the Opry stage and become Opry members. Either instance is by invite only from Opry management, and before heading on further with the tour, you get to see video clips of a few country stars — including Trace Adkins, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood — being surprised with their official invitations to join the Opry as members
Next up, your guide takes you along to see the 18 unique dressing rooms, each with a specific theme and design (the rooms are numbered 1 – 19 because there’s no dressing room number 13). Each room’s number resides in an oversized guitar pick inlaid in the floor in front of the door, and the rooms are unique as they reflect aspects of Opry history and legends.
Dressing Room #1 is actually the last one you’ll experience. It was Acuff’s dressing room from 1974 until his death in 1992, and he was known for always keeping his door open to invite other artists and musicians to hang out with him backstage. To this day, in honor of Acuff, even A-list stars who are assigned to Dressing Room #1 leave the door open.
Themes of other dressing rooms on the tour include “Bluegrass,” “Into the Circle” (reserved for artists making their first Opry performance), “Stars & Stripes” (paying tribute to America’s service men and women), “Now That’s Funny” (comedy), “It Takes Two” (duets), “Welcome to the Family” (a celebration of Opry membership), “Glitz and Glamour,” “Honky Tonk Angels,” “The Cowboy Way” and more.
After exploring the dressing rooms, you get to walk into the massive green room that’s close to the stage. This is where the artists and musicians hang out and socialize with each other before performing. It’s a large area with a family room type feel, and several photographs adorn the walls celebrating cherished Opry moments. The Archie Campbell Mural in the green room is a sight to behold. The former Hee Haw star was also a visual artist, and his painting captures the “good-natured riot” of the Opry. In the mural, Campbell painted himself in the picture dancing with a blond whom he identified as Dolly Parton.
One of the last stops on the tour is the Opry stage itself, where you get to stand smack dab on top of the hallowed circle center stage for a photo op. The circle is an actual piece of the original Ryman Auditorium stage that was cut and moved to the Grand Ole Opry house upon its opening in the ’70s. It’s quite an amazing, and humbling, experience to stand right there where so many legends have performed over decades. A staff photographer is there to snap your picture behind the microphone for a cool souvenir option (for purchase outside the gift store).
The Backstage Tour is available daily at various times for $22 adults, $17 ages 4 – 11.
There’s also an exclusive Behind the Opry Curtain VIP Tour that takes place a half hour prior to an Opry performance. You get to be backstage and in the green room to witness the exciting happenings before the show, and yes, that means you’ll get to see country stars up close! The VIP tour also lets you stand on the back side of the stage to experience the curtain rising from the artist’s perspective, and you get to stay there during the first performance before being escorted to your Opry seats to enjoy the remainder of the show. This tour is for ages 12 and older only, and you must have an Opry ticket ($32 – $72.50) in order to purchase the $98 VIP tour.
For tour and Opry performance tickets, call 800-SEE-OPRY or visit opry.com/backstagetours.