A-Z Coaster of the Week: Zippin Pippin
Our last “A-Z Coaster of the Week” is one that is very special to me: the Zippin Pippin. Once located at Libertyland in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, a replica of the historic roller coaster now operates at Bay Beach Amusement Park.
Zippin Pippin’s history is somewhat muddled. Some reports claim that the wooden coaster originally opened in 1912 at East End Park in Memphis. Other dates of the Zippin Pippin’s opening include 1915, 1917, and 1923. The coaster was a product of John A. Miller and included a 70-foot lift hill, a top speed of 40 mph and a total length of 2,865 feet.
The Pippin, as it was originally named, was incorporated into the Libertyland amusement park when it opened in 1976. The coaster then became known as the “Zippin Pippin.” It gained notoriety as Elvis Presley’s favorite roller coaster. It became a staple of Memphis. Some daring couples even chose to exchange wedding vows on the coaster, as seen in the above photograph.
The Zippin Pippin operated until 2005 when Libertyland closed. It stood dormant for nearly five years as possible buyers mulled over the coaster including Dollywood. However, Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin purchased the coaster in 2010.
Unfortunately, due to the poor condition of the structure, the original Zippin Pippin was razed. Some pieces of the track remain in Memphis. None of the original materials were reused when the coaster was rebuilt.
However, the coaster was replicated entirely by The Gravity Group thanks in part to the original plans for the coaster that were sold to Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The trains and mechanical hardware came from the former Thunder Eagle coaster in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
© Bay Beach Amusement Park
The coaster opened at Bay Beach Amusement Park in May of 2011 and has been a huge success for the small amusement park. Although nothing remains of the original Zippin Pippin, one of the original cars is on display at Bay Beach Amusement Park, along with other artifacts. Luckily, however, the namesake of the coaster and its legacy will likely live on for many more years thanks to Bay Beach and Green Bay.
Earlier this year I made a short film with Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 that was inspired by the story of the Zippin Pippin. Watch it below.
Well, that’s all, folks. We’ve spent 26 weeks covering 26 different roller coasters. If you’ve followed all the way since the “A” coaster, thank you! Perhaps we’ll do a similar series later down the road.
Did you like the “A-Z Coaster of the Week” series? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
See all the A-Z coasters here.