Construction began in 1986 and finished in 1987. Prince was the designer. You will actually feel this as you tour the place. Many eccentric elements dominate the interior, exactly what you’d expect from Prince. Paisley Park is named as such because paisley means colorful, and park means to play or entertain. In other words, Prince’s colorful playground. Located in Chanhassen, Prince recorded here for nearly 30 years.
Approximately 50 people were employed at Paisley Park, including security staff, wardrobe, assistants, and other employees before he passed away.
Paisley Park Museum
Unbeknownst to most, Prince’s former home and recording studio, “Paisley Park” is now a museum, and you can take a tour. It was opened to the public six months after his death. Knowing that I would visit, I did not read any reviews before I visited. I wanted to experience it for myself and form my own opinions.
I want to set everyone’s expectations here.
We all know that Prince actually lived at Paisley Park for the last three years of his life. Most people don’t know that it is much more of an entertainment complex and recording studio than a home. And sadly, you can only view areas on the first floor that are 100% commercial or considered public areas by Prince.
This took me aback; I’ve seen many photos of Paisley Park, and I knew that it was an entertainment complex. I just assumed that a tour would include personal space as well.
So now that all of our expectations are set – Let’s Go!
Ticket And Tour Options For Paisley Park Museum
The Paisley Experience
The Paisley Experience includes guided tours of the following:
The main floor of Paisley Park, including studios where Prince recorded, produced and mixed some of his biggest hits
Massive soundstage and concert hall where Prince rehearsed for tours and held exclusive, private events and concerts
NPG Music Club where Prince held countless late-night performances
Average Tour Time: 70 minutes
The VIP Experience
The VIP Experience includes the Paisley Experience, PLUS:
A 30-minute longer tour experience
Access to additional content, rooms, and studio areas
A showcase of additional artifacts from the Archives
A unique and exclusive photo opportunity
Average Tour Time: 100 minutes
The Ultimate Experience
The Ultimate Experience includes the VIP Experience plus exclusive access to additional spaces and exhibits. As a more immersive way for fans to tour, the Ultimate Experience is available on select days only and often sells out. This wide-ranging tour offers an expanded 3-hour guided tour including:
Studios A, B, and C access
A private screening of exclusive video footage in Paisley Park’s Editing Suite.
A special audio playback session in the control room of Studio B.
Visitors on the Ultimate Experience will also have access to view archive items not displayed on the GA and VIP tours, providing a more in-depth museum experience.
A Light beverage will be served after the tour.
Ultimate Experience Average Tour Time: 3 hours
I took the Ultimate Experience Tour so I will cover all angles of what to expect. And, I paid for my ticket so you know the deal. I will tell you the good, the bad and ugly.
Entering Paisley Park
If you have never seen the outside of Paisley Park, brace yourself. It is a concrete complex, and you probably know it’s right off a highway. However, seeing it in person makes it stranger. Not as an entertainment park but as a home. I can’t even comprehend it; it’s so commercial in appearance.
(Photo credit: Paisley Park)
Then, upon entry, you met with all the rules and regulations – another shock for me.
Strictly No Photography
This is the first time in my life where I’ve had to turn my cell phone off and place it in a sealed bag. And by sealed, I mean locked with an anti-theft device similar to those used in stores. The concept here is that Prince did not allow anyone to take photographs inside Paisley Park. The museum is respecting his wishes. I get it, but it was not what I was expecting.
Prince focused on living life in the present moment and did not own a cell phone (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin, poster at Paisley Park)
On the bright side, you can take photographs at the end of the tour in the concert venue and the nightclub.
Paisley Park Address
7801 Audubon Road
Chanhassen, Minnesota 55317
Where To Stay Near To Paisley Park
Most people will stay downtown Minneapolis or near the Mall of America; however, there are several hotels close to Paisley Park:
Arriving At Paisley Park
Paisley Park is located 22 miles from downtown Minneapolis and 17 miles from the Mall of America. Be sure to purchase your Paisley Park tour tickets online before arrival. You cannot buy tickets on-site. You do not need a printed copy of your ticket; just have a copy on your phone.
The Tour of Paisley Park
Paisley Park Hallway
Once you have entered through the main receiving area, you’ll walk through a corridor dressed in awards. If you look up, you’ll see a painted picture of Prince’s eyes. It’s fitting; he’s watching you!
This corridor is the one where the elevator once stood. The elevator where Prince died. It’s since been covered up. This is not pointed out on tour, and this is by design. However, if you want to pay respect to the actual place of death, it is on the right before you pass under the painting of his eyes.
Notice that you can see the actual elevator in this photo and where it is – to the right. It is now covered up, and the staff at Paisley Park are prohibited from telling you where the elevator is.
If you decide to pay tribute, be respectful, such as silent prayer or a discreet bow. Don’t be an idiot and leave a memento – you’ll get kicked out. And definitely do not start acting all crazy or pointing it out to others on tour. They don’t play at Paisley Park; you’ll be dragged out if needed.
Paisley Park Interior Courtyard
Next, you enter the main courtyard—a two-story arboretum with pyramid-shaped skylights. A balcony wrapping it and gold columns to finish the look.
This is where you get the first glimpse of his eccentricities. It reminded me a little of the interior of the Venitian in Vegas. A tad contemporary, a splice of gaud, and plenty of symbolism. I found it cold and office-like. Definitely, not somewhere you’d hang out. At least, not in my opinion. Not to mention, the walls are covered in larger-than-life images of the man himself. This made me smile, actually laugh. Who needs 14 feet large images of themselves in their lobby? It’s a tad vain, borderline narcissistic. But hey, many an artist pay tribute to themselves.
(Photo credit: Paisley Park)
The photos you see of the lobby online are also misleading. Often a double-wide shot is presented, giving the allusion that space is larger than it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a large space and definitely has an impressive height. It’s just nowhere near as large as it appears.
When Paisley Park first opened in October 2016, Prince’s remains were in a custom-made ceramic urn-shaped like Paisley Park with his symbol on top. The urn used to stand in the middle of the studio’s atrium, greeting visitors in the first room on the Paisley Park tour. In December 2016, the urn was moved at the request of Prince’s family.
Often, on the anniversary of Prince’s death, the urn that holds his ashes is sometimes put on display so that fans can pay their respects.
The Kitchen Inside The Interior Courtyard
On the opposite of the courtyard are a kitchen, a dinner, and a tiny living room with a couch and TV. All encased behind an elaborate wooden framed divider with windows. It’s the strangest place. Well, one of the oddest on tour. First of all, its size is meager compared to the courtyard, and it’s almost out of place. From what I understood on tour, this is a place that Prince would host his guests. And, he would watch TV in there. Prince was a huge fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA Lynx team, and he would watch the games in here. Honestly, I don’t get it at all. This kitchen/dinner area reminded me of an office lunchroom—another complex element with no homely feeling.
As you continue throughout the tour, you navigate through a few random rooms that are all on the outer perimeter of the courtyard. Almost all of them are small. Underszised and arranged in an office-like layout. I can’t say that anything was overwhelming about the office; it’s just an office.
The Meditation Room
Walking up to the meditation, I imagined all kinds of crazy wow was ahead, like an Asian zen garden or the holy grail of meditation space with no expenses spared. I anticipated floating meditation beds, some cosmic lighting, and boy, was I on the wrong track. First of all, my personal bathroom is bigger than Prince’s meditation room. And, no, I don’t live in a mansion – not even close. Then, once you get past the size (or lack of) and take it all in, it’s a tiny room with a small couch. A couple of pillars in there hold aromatherapy misters and a TV playing the tour that Oprah took with Prince through Paisley Park.
The space is very white and does have a transcendent feel, but it’s not even close to what I imagined. And, I can’t for the life of me imagine Prince sitting in there meditating.
The Doves Of Paisley Park
Prince had a love for doves. Few realize that he actually owned doves that live inside Paisley Park. There are two doves on the 2nd floor and, reportedly, many more elsewhere. You do not get to access the second floor on tour, so you can only get a glimpse of the doves from the courtyard.
Paisley Park announced that Divinity, one of Prince’s doves, died on Feb. 2. She was 28 years old, far outliving the normal lifespan for a dove. She died peacefully after recently declining in health due to her age.
As you can imagine, Paisley Park contains its own video editing bay. In here, you get to watch some of the music videos that Prince edited himself. One of the fascinating facts about this tour is just how talented Prince was. He could write, sing, dance, produce, and yes – edit video.
Purple Rain Room
The Paisley Park Purple Rain room was once a dance rehearsal space and a basketball court. It is now a specific section of the estate that houses a collection dedicated to the film Purple Rain. Some of the memorability on display here is the purple jacket and white puffy shirt worn in the movie. You can view the actual scripts from the movie that contain Prince’s handwriting. The iconic motorcycle from the movie is also on display, which is one of three used.
Paisley Park Soundstage
Paisley Park contains an enormous soundstage that Prince used for videos, movies, and tour rehearsals. Additionally, Prince held many concerts here. The venue still hosts events. Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain, was filmed almost entirely on Paisley Park’s Soundstage. There is absolutely tons of memorability to view inside the Soundstage—everything from clothing, cars, and the icon purple piano.
You’ll also be treated to a video presentation displayed over the oddly life-like stage.
Square Feet: 12,500
Capacity: 1,000 reception, 350 seated
NPG Music Club
This is where you will conclude your tour of Paisley Park. The NPG Music Club is essentially a nightclub that allowed anyone attending a concert at the Soundstage to experience Prince in an intimate setting. On the tour, you will hear many stories about who’s visited the NPG Club. And, you’ll learn that Prince would often announce a random gathering for locals – essentially a free intimate concert. He might not show up until two or three in the morning, but he was known to show on many occasions.
Square Feet: 3,400
Capacity: 200 reception, 50 seated
There is a coffee bar inside of the NPG Music Club where you buy drinks and snacks.
Leaving the NPG Music Club, you’ll pass through the gift shop where you can purchase memorabilia.
Note: If you don’t get your fill of Prince memorabilia at Paisley Park, there is a store in the Mall of America that contains most of what’s available on site.
Prince Fan Must Have’s
Paisley Park Recording Studios
There are several recording studios inside of Paisley Park. All of them progressively modernized with the times.
The studio at its time was a state-of-the-art recording studio with parquet wood floor and granite-walled isolation rooms designed specifically for the sound.
Studio A has hosted everyone from James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Madonna, and R.E.M.
In Studio A, you get to hear unreleased music recorded by Prince before his passing. While this was fascinating, I found it to be a double standard of privacy. Prince, who did not allow photography in Paisley Park. I doubt he would be comfortable with this music being shared. And, rightly so. If it was perfect and up to his standards, he would have released it himself.
Studio B is where all most die-hard fans want to be. This is where if you’ve chosen The Ultimate Experience, you will get to experience it, And, this is where you may cry.
Trust me when I tell you this, I was the only one on the tour that did not cry in Studio B. And this is purely because as much as I loved Prince and appreciated his music – he did not affect me like this. By effect, I mean that he did not profoundly shape who I am, and I was never physically attracted to him either. Don’t interpret this as disrespectful to the man; I am a fan but not a teary-eyed fan. Most importantly, you can love and appreciate an artist and not have an emotional connection, so no judging here!
It is also in Studio B where you will get a chance to have your photograph taken. Not on your own device, rather taken by an employee and given to you on a USB card.
Assuming it’s available (post-COVID), you will get the chance to record a thirty-second clip in here as well.
(Photo credit: Paisley Park)
What really impressed me in Studio B is that you hear how Prince layered and produced his own music. He would write a melody, record it, then sing over it. All phases were done independently. And, Prince could operate all of the technology on hand. Most impressively, he used more old-fashioned techniques like recording to tape and physically cutting and piecing the tape together.
On the other side of Studio B’s motherboard is a large room home to a purple baby grand piano. And, it used to house a ping pong table. Prince loved ping pong player, and he was exceptionally good at it.
Here is the only photography you will get in Studio B:
Brit On The Move’s Favorite Prince Songs
Before we even get started here, let me warn you that my first choice and all-time favorite Prince song is explicit.
So if you are easily offended – scroll down. Actually, there is a couple of naughty ones on this list so consider skipping them all unless you up for some sexual expression.
How could this not be my first choice? It is called Darling Nikki. My name is Nikki, and Prince spelled it the same way as my name! I am not going to confess my soul here and own all the behavior mentioned. Let’s just say that I grew up in England in the ’80s and lived a single life before life in America! And for the record (pun intended), I have never done any of this in a hotel lobby!
I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine
She said how’d you like to waste some time
And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind
She took me to her castle
And I just couldn’t believe my eyes
She had so many devices
Everything that money could buy
She said sign your name on the dotted line
The lights went out
And Nikki started to grind
To solidify this as my first choice, Darling Nikki is responsible for creating the infamous Parental Advisory sticker. Yes, this song sparked the creation of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) in 1985. The PMRC is now a well-known Parental Advisory sticker on album covers.
In short, Prince is responsible for the Parental Advisory stickers – long before rap. And Darling Nikki is the song that started it all!
Another reason for this to be my first choice! I love controversy. And the irony of how sexuality is riddled with double standards in America. We cannot have nudity on TV, but we can have porn all over the internet.
I do not know very many people who do not know the lyrics to Purple Rain. It is probably one of Prince’s most iconic songs ever. One of the biggest 80’s ballads of all time. For me, this reminds me of the ’80s, the movie Purple Rain.
Prince’s interpretation of ‘Purple Rain’ was “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” Simply stated, it is raining blood. What an amazing poetic metaphor.
Never meant to cause you any sorrow Never meant to cause you any pain I only wanted to one time to see you laughing I only wanted to see you in the purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain
Fact: Purple Rain was originally written to be a country duet with Stevie Nicks! Yep, but she turned it down because she said it was too much for her.
Nothing Compares 2 U
It might have been Sinéad O’Connor who made this a household tune in the ’90s, but Prince wrote it. Prince first released the song in 1985 with the band The Family on their 1985 self-titled album.
Now, I love Sinéad’s version, I really do, but it is commercial in comparison to Prince’s raw version.
It’s been seven hours and fifteen days Since u took your love away I go out every night and sleep all day Since u took your love away
Since u been gone I can do whatever I want I can see whomever I choose I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant But nothing I said nothing can take away these blues
If you’ve ever experienced a gut-wrenching breakup, you know these lyrics!
Written by Prince, Kiss was first released by Prince and The Revolution on the album Parade on February 5, 1986. In 1988, Art of Noise released a cover of the song, featuring Welsh singer Tom Jones on vocals.
I must confess that I like both versions! The beat screams dance, and while the lyrics are racy, you cannot help but dance.
You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on
I just need your body, baby, from dusk ’til dawn
You don’t need experience to turn me out
You just leave it all up to me
I’m gonna show you what it’s all about
You don’t have to be rich to be my girl
You don’t have to be cool to rule my world
Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your kiss
For me, I like the melody of this one. It’s a good old-fashioned sing-along, feel-good tune. There are three theories on what 7 means. One is the setting for the movie Three Chains of Gold, The Seven Deadly Sins, and thirdly, the evilness of the music industry for artists. Apparently, there were seven major record labels, and Prince’s reference here is that will all fall.
All seven, and we’ll watch them fall They stand in the way of love And we will smoke them all With an intellect and a savoir-faire No one in the whole universe Will ever compare I am yours now, and you are mine And together, we’ll love through All space and time, so don’t cry One day all seven will die
When Doves Cry
Another classic that most of us know! Who does not recognize the epic guitar solo that morphs with the catchy beat! This one is not a dance one for me, but it is a sign-along one, and it gives me goosebumps!
A crying dove means that things are in bad shape or gone wrong. This song is about relationships gone wrong. And, it’s thought this was about his turbulent relationship with his parents or one of his many lovers.
Dig if you will the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss
The sweat of your body covers me
Can you my darling
Can you picture this?
Dream, if you can, a courtyard
An ocean of violets in bloom
Animals strike curious poses
They feel the heat
The heat between me and you
I think we all have some crazy in us, even if it is buried deep down inside. And, I firmly believe that we all want to just let loose at some point. So, let’s go crazy is very fitting for the era. Like, the next liberation following the ’70s.
I said, let’s go (crazy)
Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright Make everything go wrong Pills and thrills and daffodils will kill Hang tough children
He’s coming He’s coming Coming
Take me away
Other Properties Prince Owned
This is bonus material! Prince owned several properties in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Homes Before Paisley Park
Prince’s home before living in Paisley Park was bulldozed at his request. However, it still has the original gates. The current owners built a new house on it but kept the gates. It is worth a look. Just be respectful as it’s someone’s home:
Address: 9401 Kiowa Trail, Chanhassen
This location served as Prince’s primary artistic headquarters for a critical period in the 1980s.
Prince used to own a 188-acre parcel along Galpin Boulevard that his estate sold to Lennar. Lennar is developing 169 homes on the property. Prince once lived in a yellow three-story house on the property at 7141 Galpin Blvd. The house has since been demolished, but a security gatehouse remains. When selling the property, Prince’s heirs requested that the development not be associated with the late megastar. Yet, it’s called “The Park” – did everyone catch that? Then there are the street names… Paisley Path and Rogers Court, to name two. Clearly, there is some association going on.
Address: Galpin Blvd, Chanhassen
A visit here is tricky and I need to warn you! There are some miserable, angry residents. One lady threatened us for taking photographs and made a big to-do of it. Which, much like other famous places like Walt’s house from Breaking Bad -if you are going to live somewhere this famous, expect the tourists.
I’ll also add this – how silly it is that “The Park” is not a gated community?
So what did I think of the tour?
Well, first of all, it’s been on my bucket list to visit Paisley Park since it became a museum, so regardless, it was worth it for me. However, recall I said that I chose the Ultimate Experience Tour – and to the tune of $160? It is not worth it unless you are a die-hard fan, and even then, not sure that the recording element is worth it or the one photo you can take in Studio B. I visited while COVID guidelines were in place, so we could not record. Had I known this, I would not have opted for this tour.
Be sure to validate what is included before you actually buy tickets.
Then there is the complimentary beverage. This one’s sinful, and it breaks my heart even have to say it. It’s a complimentary drink – one. The complimentary drink is your choice of a can of soda or a bottle of water to help yourself from a commercial fridge. And, while Prince never allowed alcohol at Paisley Park, there’s a coffee bar on hand. I don’t think that this token drink is up to Prince’s standards, and I think he’d be horrified. I mean, can we get a freshly squeezed juice, some kombucha, el fresco – something?
And, while the estate is loaded with amazing memorability, I was ultimately disappointed that I did not get to see any of Prince’s personal space. I was equally disappointed by the double standards. Particularly, no photography, but let’s raid his vault!
I do not regret taking the tour. I am happy that I got to experience Paisley Park but it was not what I expected.
Feel free to refer to me as Darling Nikki going forward, and please let me know what your favorite songs are or how Prince impacted you!
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.