Libertyland

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Entrance to Libertyland

Libertyland was an amusement park located in Memphis, Tennessee. Opened on July 4, 1976, it was located at 940 Early Maxwell Blvd. It was structured under the nonprofit 501(c)4 US tax code. It closed due to financial reasons in 2005.

History[edit]

Libertyland opened as an amusement park on the Mid-South Fairgrounds on July 4, 1976. Before then, the fair had operated on the land, including the Zippin Pippin and the Grand Carousel. The city of Memphis decided it was time for an amusement park for the city. It opened in 1976 with several rides, including the pre-existing rides that had operated in that place before. The Zippin Pippin was widely popular as it was Elvis Presley's favorite wooden roller coaster. The Grand Carousel was also a classic and was widely appreciated. The park gradually drew in decent crowds over the years, but never made a great profit. It continued to add attractions, such as a steel coaster called the Revolution, and others. During the late 1990s, it added a Top Spin ride, dubbed "Tidal Wave." It was removed later, and in April 2002, the drop tower Rebellion was added. It featured a 90-foot (27 m) drop and drew larger crowds to the park.

Attractions[edit]

Libertyland featured around 24 attractions.

  • Bumper Boats
  • Car-Go-Round
  • Casey's Cannonball
  • Dragon Wagon
  • Fun Run
  • Grand Carousel
  • Kamikaze
  • Little Bumper Boats
  • Old Hickory Log Flume
  • Paratrooper
  • Park's Peak
  • Pirate Ship
  • Rebellion
  • Red Baron
  • Revolution
  • Screamer
  • Sea Dragon
  • Surf City Water Slide
  • Tennessee Tilt
  • Thriller
  • Turnpike Antique Cars
  • Twain's Twister
  • Umbrella Ride
  • Wipeout
  • Zippin Pippin

Financial Troubles[edit]

For many years, it was widely known that Libertyland was having financial difficulties, namely it was not turning a profit. New attractions were not being added, and crowds began to diminish. In 2005, it commissioned a firm to redo its image. A new logo was designed, buildings were repainted, but the effort did not bring in enough of a profit, if any.

Closure[edit]

The park operated its last day for a corporate day on October 29, 2005. In early November, a meeting was called before the Mid-South Fair board of committee to close it. The vote was passed and the announcement was made public. Their reasonings included lack of profit, a steady decline of attendance, and they wanted to extend the midway for the annual Mid-South Fair which operates adjacent to the park's site for 10 days in October. Its closure followed that of Adventure River, Memphis' only water park by less than ten years. The City of Memphis had also closed Bud Boogie Beach in the early 1990s.

Grass-Roots Effort[edit]

Within days of the announcement to close the park, a group formed to save it. It, Save Libertyland!, fought against Mid-South Fair to keep it open, citing that it drew in hundreds of jobs for the Memphis area teens and was one of the few places for families to spend time there.[1] Several benefits were held to gain support for the movement. The park brought in a few companies willing to purchase it, mainly Joyland, Inc. (T-Rex Entertainment), which was known for buying financially troubled amusement parks and turning them around. Though there was a debate over who actually had rights to the rides, since in reality, the city actually owned some of them, Mid-South Fair did not back down and went on with plans to auction the assets off.

Auction & Post-Movement[edit]

Mid-South Fair brought in an auctioneer group and the auction was held on June 21, 2005. Most of the rides were sold, including the Zippin Pippin, which sold for only $2,500. It was bought by a traveling rock museum who only wanted one of the train's cars. Carolina Crossroads later bought it but decided not to move it.[2] It has now been bought by the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, which will rebuild it at their city-owned Bay Beach Amusement Park. The Revolution was bought by DelGrosso's Amusement Park but has yet to be erected as of April 2010. Other rides were dispersed to other locations around the country. The Rebellion was sold to Ghost Town in the Sky and reopened in 2007.

In December 2006, Joyland Inc. made a bold move and sent the city a letter of intent stating their intention of reopening the park, more as a new amusement park on the former site. The deal was to be completed on a three-year lease plan. However, upon viewing it in person, Joyland Inc. pulled out of the deal due to extensive damage including infrastructure damage, wiring, and plumbing.

Future[edit]

The future of the park's former site is uncertain, redevelopment plans for the fairground have been presented, but nothing has been set. The carousel could be moving to Mud Island in the coming years.

As of January 2010, most of the rides and attractions have been moved, sold, or destroyed and the land is being cleared. The area is now a parking lot and green space known as Tiger Lane, which is used for tailgating purposes prior to University of Memphis football games at the nearby Liberty Bowl.

References[edit]

  1. ^ ", Misty J. White - Join in bold re-imagining of fairgroundsThe Commercial Appeal, April 3, 2009.
  2. ^ "Elvis' favorite roller coaster, Zippin Pippin, moving to Carolina Crossroads". Carolina Newswire. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°07′07″N 89°58′57″W / 35.118539°N 89.982447°W / 35.118539; -89.982447