Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

Zippin Pippin updates

Recommended Posts

Panel vote puts Pippin fate on hold

By David Williams (Contact)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The City of Memphis is claiming ownership of the Zippin Pippin and conceivably could make the rollercoaster, and the Grand Carousel, a part of Mid-South Fairgrounds redevelopment.


However, the City Council's parks committee on Tuesday stopped short of making any promises. Instead, the committee voted to hold off on deciding the fate of the historic attractions until consultants' fairgrounds redevelopment reports are received in September. The coaster and city-owned carousel will remain intact, in the meantime, according to the vote.


It was seen as a modest victory for members of the Save Libertyland group and other proponents of a "mini-park" at the fairgrounds -- even though the committee didn't vote on a resolution that called for the city to "preserve and restore the Grand Carousel and Zippin Pippin rollercoaster as working rides..."


Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware said that resolution was "a blank check. ... We don't have a clue of what would be required to preserve and restore."


Those concerns led to the decision to put the fate of the rides on hold but also protect them from being dismantled or moved.


"We don't see it as a setback," said Steve Mulroy, a leader of Save Libertyland and a County Commissioner. "I think we've actually gained ground, because they've decided they're going to definitely preserve the rides until the report comes back."


Mulroy disagreed, however, with City Atty. Elbert Jefferson Jr.'s contention that the city owns the Zippin Pippin on the legal grounds that it wasn't removed from the fairgrounds by a required date this spring.


"I don't agree with that premise," said Mulroy, who contends that Save Libertyland owns the coaster. "We sent a letter back (to the city) saying, 'We don't recognize that deadline.' "


The Zippin Pippin -- beloved by Elvis Presley and formerly billed as the country's second-oldest operating wooden coaster -- has been on a wild ride since Libertyland amusement park was closed by Mid-South Fair officials in late 2005.


The fair sold the Pippin at auction in June 2006 for $2,500 to Nashville-based music museum operators Stephen Shutts and Robert Reynolds.


Four months later, they sold the coaster to Carolina Crossroads, a North Carolina entertainment attraction.


In April, days before the coaster was required to be removed, Carolina Crossroads donated it -- sans cars -- to Save Libertyland.


The grassroots group-turned-nonprofit organization then planned to donate the Pippin to the City of Memphis -- if the city promised to preserve it and keep it on the fairgrounds.


Though Mulroy and Jefferson disagree on ownership, they agreed there's no need to fight over the issue at the moment, because nothing will happen to the Pippin until a fairgrounds plan is developed.


"Everybody might win," Jefferson said. "There's no reason to dispute or fight over ownership, if everybody gets what they want."


If the city eventually decides to make the Pippin a part of a new fairgrounds, Mulroy said, "we'll sign it over to them in a second. They can tell us the signing-over is superfluous, but we'll be happy to do it anyway.


"And if the city doesn't want to do anything with it, they need to give us a reasonable amount of time to move it off the property. We'll work on that. We are working on that."


The city-led fairgrounds redevelopment began in 2004, with few decisions having been made in three years. Libertyland was closed and Mid-South Fair officials are expected to move to a new site after the 2007 or 2008 fair. Also, the Salvation Army has bought 15 acres on the East Parkway side of the fairgrounds for the Kroc Center.


But other decisions -- to build a football stadium or renovate the Liberty Bowl; to renovate or demolish the Mid-South Coliseum; how to balance park-like features with potential big-box retail and residential elements -- have yet to be made.


City officials are awaiting consultants' reports on both the stadium issue and the entire complex.


Frankly I have been on the Zippin Pippin many times and it is not the greatest coaster. However, it was always fun and it is part of the local history. It is interesting how small and routine seeming things can be turned into major venues. One only has to look at San Antonio, Texas, where they turned a ditch into a major attraction. Alone it may not be worth anything, but as part of a coordinated effort the ZP could be put to good use. I would recommend putting Mayor Herenton and the entire Memphis City Council on the ZP until they come to their senses.


Why do people always have to make things more difficult than what they need to be? Can't we all just get along?


This is better than no news!


I'll keep everybody up to date on this.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 26
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • 4 months later...

Zippin update



A news conference will be held on Monday, January 14, 2008 to discuss the future of the Zippin Pippin. Memphis Heritage is holding the news conference at 2:00 p.m. to discuss the relocation and restoration of the historic roller coaster.


The Zippin Pippin is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the United States. It currently sits idle at the Mid-South Fairgrounds in Midtown Memphis. It was part of Libertyland Park, which opened in 1976. The Zippin Pippin was the favorite roller coaster of Elvis Presley. Libertyland closed its gates for good on October 29, 2005.


The Memphis City Council is still deciding what to do with the Mid-South Fairgrounds. That includes the Mid-South Coliseum, Libertyland, and the Liberty Bowl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope we hear good news from this meeting, but it depends if the "The Memphis City Council" likes Theme Parks and Roller-coasters. Why does everything take so long to come to an agreement that by the time it's finished the product is not working keeping due to cost more money to repair..


I wonder if Council's and companies do this on purpose, " leave things SBNO" and they become cheaper to destroy than to repair..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, here it is, they are going to move and restore the Zippin Pip.




The group that may or may not own the Zippin Pippin has reached an agreement with one of the companies that wants to develop attractions in and around The Pyramid.


Steve Mulroy of Save Libertyland! Inc. announced Monday afternoon the group has agreed to let the Ericson Group move and renovate the Zippin Pippin roller coaster as part of Greg Ericson’s $250 million plan for The Pyramid, Mud Island and the surrounding riverfront.


The Ericson Group proposal had been known as Pyramid Adventure but recently underwent a name change to Pyramid Harbor. The wooden, 85-year-old roller coaster would be in an amusement park to be built on Mud Island. The island park would be renamed Harbor Island as part of the larger project.


Mulroy, who is also a Shelby County commissioner, estimated moving the Pippin would cost around $1 million and the renovation would cost another $65,000. That is compared to a cost of $25 million for a new steel roller coaster Ericson proposes to run up one side of The Pyramid and inside the structure.


The Herenton administration has been negotiating for nearly three years with Bass Pro Shops to develop The Pyramid. Those negotiations are set to expire at the end of January under a non-binding letter of intent between the city and Bass Pro.


Ericson is scheduled to present his Pyramid Harbor proposal to Memphis City Council members Jan. 22. He presented the plan to County Commission members in December.


The Save Libertyland! group is in a legal dispute with the city of Memphis over who owns the roller coaster, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The roller coaster was sold at auction to the amusement park company Carolina Crossings, which then gave it to Save Libertyland! The city claims as part of the legal dispute that since Save Libertyland! didn’t move the structure off the fairgrounds property in five days, ownership has reverted back to the city.


Ericson said he hopes to reach an agreement with the city to move the nearby Grand Carousel at the former Libertyland theme park to Mud Island as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While its along road a head lets hope this all happens. Plus the last paragraph is promising for those that are carousel fans, it says they may try and reach an agreement to move it also. Thats great news for the 2 old rides. Lets hope that next week they (Pyramid group) get the approval to redo the Pyramid and actually are able to move the Zippin Pip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just hope for the sake of saving the rides and for future rides that on Jan. 22nd they get the approval to move forward with the Pyramid renovations. I remember last year I happened to fly over the downtown area and was curious as to what the pyramid building was, and thought at that time that it would make a great indoor amusement park or some time of entertainment venue.

Looks like it will be one of those wait and see projects. I am wondering if the coaster is small enough to go inside the structure or maybe a half and half or as some have thought out along the water front.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well no news except they have submitted the plan. Included in the deal is the tallest fastest indoor roller coaster.

Watch the video for lots of information about the project.




Memphis city council members listened to a plan that would turn the Pyramid into an amusement park surrounded by shops and a hotel.


Greg Ericson told the council he has support from a hotel financier and a real estate investor. Ericson showed detailed plans and promised a detailed timeline to make sure the process keeps moving.


Ericson's plan includes an indoor amusement park in the Pyramid with a roller coaster and other rides. There would also be a retail center, maybe a Bass Pro type store, "I know what it takes to make Mud Island successful. We've done events in the Pyramid. We know it will work."


Mud Island would hold two large hotels and be a home to the historic carousel that used to be housed at Libertyland. Ericson's plan also includes the Zippin' Pippin roller coaster.


Detailed plans to finance the project were not available today but Ericson says he and his investors will fund the park with no public funds needed and the group will pay off the note on the Pyramid which is almost 12 million dollars.


City council members had mixed reactions. Bass Pro says it will sign a deal January 31, to build a retail center in the Pyramid. If that deal falls through, at least the council has a back up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I was on an art honor society field trip yesterday and it just so happended that we drove by Libertyland. I had never seen the park before and didn't have time to get in any shots, but what I did see was the Zippin' Pippin still standing along with the log flume. That's basically all I was able to see though. I really wish this park was still kind of opened because I'm sure we would have stopped. It would have been more fun than the Memphis Zoo. The only thing worthwhile about that zoo was the two pandas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

I signed it, but since I've grown up a bit since this all started I've seen how little these online petitions do.


With the current economic situation, I don't think it would be feasible for anyone to spend the money to relocate or even refurbish the ride. It looks like it will sit there abandoned for quite some time, as they don't even know what they're going to do with the fairgrounds yet.


Hopefully the ride will run again someday. I think it's a pretty sad reflection of the city of Memphis, tbh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the Zippin Pippin was a favorite coaster of Elvis Presley...why doesn't his daughter Lisa Marie buy it and move the coaster to Graceland? Or at least include the coaster on some Elvis tour ( like Sun Studios ?? ).


I have never been to Graceland but from what I heard the place is sort of like an amusement park in its own right so the Zippin Pippin should be right at home there too...and they get the tourists !!!


Besides when most people think of Memphis..well lets face it..they think of Elvis Presley !!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, Does Carolina Crossroads still 'own' the Pippin?


There was some discussion about moving it to Dollywood, but I think Dollywood backed off b/c they wanted to keep it in Memphis.


Last I had heard, they donated the ride to the Save Libertyland group. It was also at some point planned to be moved and included in the Pyramid redevelopment project until it was shot down for the Bass Pro Shop deal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/