Libertyland: Abandoned Amusement Park

With the news surrounding Libertyland lately and my professor asking me for an observational essay, I pictured Libertyland being the perfect place to visit. As usual, I would walk the perimeter of the park as I usually did. But this trip was quite different from the rest.

All that’s left of the Arrow looper Revolution is its station. The ride is still sitting in pieces at Delgrosso’s in Pennsylvania.

As I approached the entrance plaza, it was obvious not much had changed since my last visit in 2008.

The Creative Arts Center linked the fairgrounds adjacent to Libertyland and the park itself.

Peaking through the iron gates surrounding the front of the park gave me a glimpse of what little has changed over the past four years.

Picnic tables are stacked atop each other, untouched.

A sign for a picnic area is tucked away behind a tree.

Independence Station is where guests could catch Casey Jone’s train that took them around the park.

A quaint building stood over the entrance plaza.

The picnic pavillion stands empty.

Looking towards the Independence Station area of the park.

A rusted truck can be seen in front of the park’s pizzeria.

As I made my way around the park I noticed something different. A wide open path leading towards the Zippin Pippin. Being somewhat intrigued by this open path, I began walking towards the coaster.

I thought to myself, “this can’t be happening, how could someone leave a gate that huge open?”

Before I knew it, one step had turned into twenty, and I was face-to-face with the legendary Zippin Pippin.

While I wasn’t in the park itself, I began to see how dilapidated the infrastructure of the park was.

The Zippin Pippin looked as if it was being devoured by the massive trees surrounding it.

I couldn’t believe how close I was. My hands were shaking as I attempted to take as many pictures as possible.

As I made my way down the path, it became obvious that the ride would require a massive refurb to become operational again.

Suddenly, I realized that I was inside Libertyland. The conditions of the park’s buildings were horrendous…

…as did the vandalism that had occurred inside.

The park has become an urban jungle, complete with stray animals and wild plant growth.

The Grand Carousel, all that’s left of any value at the park, stands boarded up.

Looking towards the antique cars station, I finally got my bearings straight – I was in the dead center of the park.

The station stands in the background with a blank information sign in the foreground.

A worn map diplay stand shows small pieces of former park maps.

I couldn’t believe it, I was staring at the entrance to the Zippin Pippin. As a child I had passed through this structure countless times on my way to conquer the second-oldest coaster in the nation.

This once held a sign full of fun facts about the ride.

The entire ride is in such a depressing state that it’s hard to even remember how beautiful it once was.

It was hard for me to grasp where I was because so many rides have been removed.

A pieces of the antique car track still remains.

A hole in the roof allows light to cast an eerie glow under the station.

This area used to be one of the most lively sections of the park. You could watch family members ride the carousel while enjoying the amusement park fanfare music.

I made my way out of the park as the sun began to cast a silhouette of the carousel.

On my way out, I turned back and got one more glimpse of the park. After four years of trying, I finally saw my hometown park one last time.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in Libertyland, you can check out our partner site, Remember Libertyland.

Update: Read John’s new book Libertyland.

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37 Responses

  1. Justin says:

    Great update, John! The park looks really sad, I’m surprised they are just letting it sit there like that.

  2. John says:

    ^ Thanks! Demolition is supposed to start soon but with the City of Memphis you never know…

  3. Ethan says:

    That’s a really sad sight to see. Looked like Libertyland was a beautiful amusement park in its day, I wish I would’ve had a chance to visit.

  4. Deb says:

    THANK YOU for the trip down memory lane. I reside in Mississippi and visited Libertyland many times. I called it “Miniture Disney World”. I am very saddened to see the condition it has been reduced to.

  5. J. Johnson says:

    It was meant for you to find those gates open. You really captured the “human side of this park–like a very old person who has possibly been forgotten, but yet they still have memories of happier times when they were “young”, thriving and still had life just swirling around them. This once beautiful and fun place has just been left with only memories of all those who enjoyed it–a true Memphis memory. Thanks John. Excellent work.

  6. Tyler says:

    Wow. Four years? And it’s just been left to fade away…crazy. Great update, John. I’m glad you were able to get in there again.

  7. Ryan says:

    That’s really sad, but pretty amazing at the same time. I’m surprised how everything is in such bad condition, but then you look at the Zippin Pippin’s structure at a far it doesn’t look like its in terrible shape.

    Great pictures John!

  8. Kenitra says:

    Elvis is probably turning over in his grave!

  9. Nick says:

    Wow! I’ve always wondered what an amusement park would look like it if it were abandoned and just sat there for years. Now I know!

  10. Denise says:

    John you are so rock-steady. We are still trying to get the City of Memphis to do right. That Carousel alone is worth millions of dollars — each horse is worth between $50,000 – $150,000 — and the rollercoaster is the last of a rare breed — we will not stop trying, thanks for helping all these years!

  11. misty white says:

    Great Job! I know it is overwhelming in there, but really all we need is to weed whack the Hell out of it! Of course it would be nice for Robert Lipscomb to get in there with his cronies and pick up all the trash he authorized the Mid south Fair ( JIM ROUT) to DUMP there! Four years of their Fair waste collected by the City Sanitation workers and for some reason (maybe gas prices?) instead of driving to the dump, they just dumped it in our Park! Crazy! Check out our website everybody, and see what we are up to!

  12. Glenda says:

    I was so excited to see your pictures! I was just there this past weekend,too. I would have loved to go inside but I couldn’t get anyone to let me in. I wnated to see it one last time before they make the terrible mistake of destroying this wonderful landmark. I live in Alabama and visited many times with my daughter. All we have left are the memories. I did take some pictures from the outside to keep. Thanks for the great job you did.

  13. Grant says:

    Thanks for the pics. My 1st job was at Libertyland the summer of 1985. I was a busboy at Huckleberry’s On the River. It was the closest thing Libertyland had to a sit down restaurant. It overlooked the ‘river’ that had paddle boats at one time then bumper boats and was adjacent to the area that was the ice rink in the winter time. I remember Bea and Miss Johnson running Huckleberry’s and Tom S was a busboy with me. Bea and Miss Johnson would send me out to buy Pall Mall unfiltered cigarettes for them. They also made the best and biggest homemade cinnamon rolls long before Memphis had TJ Cinnamons and Cinnabon. Park employees would also bring them food to cook, but they had to bring enough for all of us. Bea and Miss Johnson cooked up some of the best ham, catfish, collards, chicken, corn bread and chocolate cake I ever ate. I spent many, many hours at Libertyland as a customer and employee. It was a fun little park.

  14. misty white says:

    wow, Grant, that is soooo cool!

  15. John says:

    Grant, that’s a great story – I don’t believe I ever ate at that restaurant (I usually went for a Pronto Pup).

  16. Austin says:

    Its sad to see Libertyland like this. It was so much fun to have birthday parties here or just hangout for a day. The Zippin Pippin and the Revolution were the first roller coasters I ever rode. With the Mid-South Coliseum now empty, almost the entire fairgrounds area could be turned into another amusement park that would include the Zippin Pippin.

  17. Edwin says:

    It is so sad to see the pictures of a theme park that I worked at back in the early 80’s. It was one of many fond high school memories for me. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  18. Andrea says:

    Your pictures almost bring me to tears–I feel dumb, but Libertyland meant a lot to me in my childhood/teenage years. I get sentimental as I am growing up(almost 27), and just sucks that this is where we are now. Thank you for your pictures.

  19. Kelli says:

    I bet the McDonald’s shown in the background of image 28 and 29 used to give discount coupons. I’m also guessing that customers would like to stand at the back windows to watch and wave at the autique car ride’s passengers who might have done the same upon passing it during the cycle.

  20. Jen says:

    Thanks for the pictures. I have lots of fond memories of Libertyland. I worked there one summer and made lots of good friends and had so much fun. My dad and I would visit the park often as we lived only a few blocks away. What a shame… I’m literally crying over the pictures.

  21. Tiffany says:

    This is so sad. It actually brings me to tears. My Dad lives in Mississippi, and we would visit Libertyland every summer during my visits. The first roller coaster I ever rode was the Revolution. I was scared to death, unable to decide for sure whether or not I wanted to ride it. Finally, I did get on & take the thrilling ride. As soon as it was over, I wanted to go again. I’ll never forget that. Awesome memory, but just one of the reasons that also makes the closure & subsequent disrepair so disturbing. I also had one of those “what if” moments at Libertyland. The water log ride was the scene. I used to look up at certain rides and wonder, “What if that thing got stuck right at the top?” Well, just as our “log” was topping the ride and getting ready to speed down the slide into the water, it did just that. I mean right at the drop point, leaving us knowing that as soon as it restarted, we’d go. Talk about extra anxiety! Of course, it finally restarted, & I screamed the whole way down. (Which was a good thing. lol) It kills me that the park is now abandoned and falling down. Thanks for giving us this sight and for sharing the pictures of a childhood dreamland.

  22. Megumi says:

    I was born around the time most rides were taken out and blowups, etc. were put in, but I still loved Libertyland. I lived right across the street from it and when I visited my grandparents on weekdays, we always went to the park. Oh, how I would ride all the rides 1000 times, and dream of being tall enough to go on the Revolution. I miss that park so much, by the time I was able to ride the Pippin and the Revolution, the park had closed. I looked at these pictures and saw all the places I used to go to everyday, and cried. I miss this park deeply, and I want it back. It was the only reason I went into Memphis on a regular basis, and actually made living in this dump of a city worth it. I hope this group can have it reopened, so that I can finally ride the Pippin and have more rides for my siblings to enjoy

  23. Alecia says:

    This was the sadest thing I have ever seen. I went to Libertyland ever summer until I was 25 years old. After seeing these pictures, it is hard to remember what it really looked like. Thank you so much for allowing us to see these pictures and updating us on Libertyland.

  24. Spencer Pollard says:

    I worked in the Games area during the summers of 76-79. July 4, 1976 was the grand opening and still recall the excitement everyone felt as they got to see the park come to life. Before the park opened each day, we would take always take a ride on the pippin. The best times were those summer evenings, just before sunset as the day cooled, when the park looked is cleanest and brightest. The lighting within the park against a darkening sky created an almost magical setting. I understand Opryland was also torn down. Here in Houston, Astroworld was also removed because the land it was sitting on was much more valuable then the revenue it produced as an amusement park. Now its a huge vacant tract still waiting for a develper. I hope Libertyland will be cleared and the land put to good use. It does no one any good to let it waste away. Surely the Carousel will be saved.

  25. Ken says:

    There used to be a “world’s longest” loveseat at Libertyland. Doesn’t anyone know what happened to it?

  26. Chris says:

    IN the name of Elvis, sign the petition to try and save the Zippin Pippin.

  27. Nick says:

    Very cool for me to see this. I was born in Memphis in 1978, but moved to Kansas City at the age of 10. I remember loving Libertyland, the Zippin Pippin, the log ride, and those old cars that followed the tracks. Really amazing to see this pictures and bring back memories of my early childhood.

    Does anyone remember a place called Snow Cream Castle or Snow Cone Castle? Something like that?

  28. Heather says:

    It looks like maybe the Zippen Pippen may be moving to Wisconsin…
    see for more.

  29. Robert says:

    I was sitting here this evening sharing memories with my kids of the park. My family lived in North Mississippi and we went several times from the time it reopened in 1976 and my family relocated to California in 1978. Greatly saddened at the condition it has fallen into. The Pippen was my favorite. In my folks photo album are pictures of the coaster and rides like the antique cars. Thank you for the look of what has happened to what was.

  30. Sarah says:

    So sad and sorrowed.. as we drove to Memphis for an optical appt. and saw the zippin pippin was being torn down… not MOVED.. just piled into big piles of rubbish.. to all the city leaders of Memphis.. you are a sad bunch of folks… I could say more but it may be better for me to just leave it alone.. YES PEOPLE out there that visited this historic site for years and years.. they let it just WASTE AWAY..

  31. Lynnette says:

    I live in WI, where the city of Green Bay just bought the naming rights and some of the cars for the Zippin Pippin.

    I read the stories about Libertyland, and I think of the sorrow that we’d feel here if the same thing that happened in Memphis happened to our beloved Bay Beach in Green Bay. I’m very sad that Libertyland wasn’t saved, and that the Pippin was ripped down. I know our Pippin up here won’t be the same, but hopefully it will save some of the history in a small way.

  32. Robin Cavicante says:

    Memphis had or probaly still have some messed up city officials running memphis,
    a new rollercoaster could’ve been rebuilt in place of the zippin pippin i mean enough rich ass wanna be people in memphis who could’ve backed an idea like that to keep libertyland thriving for memphis and for revenue that memphis was ,
    receiving from the park yearly ..
    Some people just do’nt get it but now look where the mid south-fair has moved to,
    yes desoto county in miss. duh? what ever happened to shelby county in places like eads tn.
    or shelbyville lots of land in the countrysides 20 to 30 miles outside of memphis..
    My first time going to libertyland was back in 76 or 77 hmmm before it was libertyland back in 1975 i rode the zippin pippin scared the living daylights out of me and i never got on a coaster ever again in my life i’m now 45 so that tells you something..
    You have some great picture’s here on this site but memphis need’s to get thier heads out of thier ass and come up with a plan to suit the need’s of it’s people for,,
    entertainment because i know it has to be boring there with nothing to do..
    So that’s my opinion..

  33. Jill says:

    Hi. I am from NE Ohio and around 1986 visited Libertyland. I was six at the time. We were visiting Memphis and added Libertyland as one of the places to see. I don’t remember much but I enjoyed your photos and this site. My only memory is being VERY excited to be there and was skipping down a path when a security guard approached me. He growled “There’s NO RUNNING at Libertyland!!” I was so frightened it kind of ruined the whole day from there on. ha.

  34. Joan says:

    I honestly dont understand why they are doing away with the most popular tennessee attractions these amusement parks and other memories of tennessee…our children and grandchildren have nothing first Opryland and Now Libertyland. I mean no wonder our younger generation is getting into so much trouble nothing for them to do and no jobs for their future.

  35. jeff says:

    is’nt this where thay shoot the epic movie “zombieland”?!

  36. Kevin evans says:

    I was a maintanence man their these pics broke my heart.

  37. Danielle Jones says:

    The new the new Liberty Land will create a lot of jobs chances for education as well as growth within our community. The concept of the new Liberty Land will be as follows Monday through Friday we will hold a trade school type environment therefore if you didn’t graduate from high school and you need your GED we’re going to offer the chances for you to come and get your GED no matter your age or anything. The trade school aspect of it is as follows who would want human resource training, culinary training, business experience, business management, etc. We need all teachers all teachers that’s in school that needs extern experience retired teachers and teachers that just want to volunteer to help their Community we need you to come out Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 and 4 o’clock to help educate. Day care services will be provided so that you can better yourself to do other things and gain experience to make a better life for you and your family. All positions will be promoted from within if you start out as a greeter and you attend our classes and you learn to be a cashier or a human resource person when you graduate from that class you would be promoted to that position. Amusement park will run Friday through Sunday during the cooler part of the season but Monday through Sunday during summer times. The Rebirth of Liberty Land regenerate numerous jobs over 300 jobs from start to finish and throughout the life of Liberty Land therefore we’re getting our youth off the streets we’re getting hope back into our communities. So therefore I need your help I need everyone to get behind me and this movement I need everyone that knows a Shelby county leader I need everyone that knows a basketball player or a city council leader. To contact me this is probably going to be a 501c adventure because we’re not looking to make money we’re setting out to provide a well needed resource to our community. I need everyone to donate money I need everyone in to promote this I need gang leaders to declare a ceasefire around this property I need everyone on board with this movement because the projected date has been set for this time next year. I’m working with fun box amusement as well as Dreamland Adventures Dave has opened amusement parks in Orlando Florida and they’re in construction to build a 500 Million dollars amusement park in Mississippi. Please if you can share this information and help me bring back the heart of Memphis I would greatly appricated. I can be reached at Danielle Anderson Jones on facebook i will also be releasing a press release soon.