Zippin Pippin

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Zippin Pippin
Zippin Pippin Logo.jpg
Zippin Pippin Arial Photo.jpg
Zippin Pippin in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Previously known as Pippin
Bay Beach Amusement Park
Coordinates 44°32′0″N 87°59′2″W / 44.53333°N 87.98389°W / 44.53333; -87.98389Coordinates: 44°32′0″N 87°59′2″W / 44.53333°N 87.98389°W / 44.53333; -87.98389
Status Operating
Opening date May 21, 2011 (2011-05-21)
Coordinates 35°07′10″N 89°58′57″W / 35.119543°N 89.982630°W / 35.119543; -89.982630
Status Relocated to Bay Beach Amusement Park
Opening date 1912
Closing date 2005
General statistics
Type Wood
Manufacturer The Gravity Group
Designer John A. Miller
Model Wooden Coaster
Track layout Martin & Vleminckx
Lift/launch system Chain lift hill
Height 70 ft (21 m)
Drop 70 ft (21 m)
Length 2,865 ft (873 m)
Speed 40 mph (64 km/h)
Duration 1:58
Max vertical angle 64°
Height restriction 48 in (122 cm)
Zippin Pippin at RCDB
Pictures of Zippin Pippin at RCDB

The Zippin Pippin, formerly called the Pippin, is one of the oldest existing wooden roller coasters in the United States.[citation needed] It was initially constructed in the former East End Park in Memphis, Tennessee in 1912 by John A. Miller and Harry C. Baker of National Amusement Devices. The construction material was pine wood. As the park declined in popularity, the coaster was dismantled and relocated adjacent to the horse track in Montgomery Park, now known as the Mid-South Fairgrounds. It has been purchased by the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin and installed at the Bay Beach Amusement Park.[1] It is once again in operation.


Sunrise on the Zippin Pippin right before the 2013 season opening.

According to an April 27, 1993, Commercial Appeal article, the Zippin Pippin was built in 1912 in East End Park but, a January 8, 1933, article claims that East End, "had charge of the 'Figure Eight,' predecessor of the Fairgrounds, 'Pippin.'" An April 17, 1966, article claims the coaster was built in 1915 and another, (December 26, 1974) dates construction in 1917. The Zippin Pippin is recorded to have been rebuilt once, "higher and longer," after severe damage from a tornado in April 1928 (Commercial Appeal, April 27, 1928). The reconstruction was completed by July of the same year at a cost of $45,000 (Commercial Appeal, July 3, 2003).

In the 1970s, the city of Memphis made plans to build a theme park around the Pippin and the Grand Carousel, also on the grounds.[2] Called Libertyland, the park opened in 1976. Renamed the Zippin Pippin, the coaster was billed as the most prominent and historic ride at Libertyland, and was reportedly Elvis Presley's favorite roller coaster. Elvis would rent the entire park on occasion just to ride it without constant fan interference.[3] Just a week before his death, Elvis rented the park from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. to entertain a small number of guests and he rode the Zippin Pippin for hours without stopping. On October 29, 2005, citing persistent loss of money, Libertyland permanently closed.

The Zippin Pippin stood without operating for four years in the Libertyland Amusement Park at the Mid-South Fairgrounds (a 125-acre (0.51 km2) tract of land purchased in 1912 and "[d]edicated to the Citizens of Memphis for recreation, athletic fields, fairs." This public land is slowly being sold to private developers. The Zippin Pippin was taken down between January 28, 2010, and February 11, 2010.

The Libertyland website stated: "One of the oldest operating wooden roller coasters in North America, the Zippin Pippin is as popular today as it was in the early 20th century. It is 2,865 feet [873 m] long, travels 20.8 mph [33.5 km/h]], increasing to 40 mph [64 km/h]] at the maximum drop of 70 feet [21 m]. Ride duration is 90 seconds. Great care is taken to replace its wood regularly to preserve its structure. Manufacturer is Amusement Device Co."[4]

Beginning Dismantlement and Relocation[edit]

Back in operation at Green Bay, July 2012
On 6/23/2013, the Zippin Pippin had its one millionth rider, far ahead of any projections.


On June 21, 2006, the Zippin Pippin was sold at auction by Norton Auctioneers of Coldwater, Michigan. Robert Reynolds, former bassist with country band The Mavericks, and Stephen Shutts (partners in a traveling museum called the Honky Tonk Hall of Fame & Rock-N-Roll Roadshow) purchased the Pippin for $2,500, having initially planned to bid only on one of the roller coaster cars. The sale agreement required the buyer to remove the ride within 30 days. Reynolds and Shutts consulted with a coaster expert to determine the practicality of moving the entire coaster to another location.

"It's not in anybody's best interest just to come in and knock it down," Shutts said.[5]

On September 17, 2006, Dollywood sent out an attraction survey, with the Zippin Pippin listed as a possible new attraction in the next few years.

On October 29, 2006, it was announced that the Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Tourism Bureau had bought the Zippin Pippin from Reynolds and Shutts and were bringing the coaster to a new tourist development under construction named Carolina Crossroads. It will be a 1,000-acre (400 ha) music park, including the 1,500-seat Roanoke Rapids theatre, outdoor amphitheatre, waterpark, and outlet shopping center.[6]

On November 16, 2009, a section of the Pippin's track was torn out to determine the salvageability of the materials.[7]

On January 28, 2010, crews began dismantling the Zippin Pippin with the hopes of preserving as much of the coaster as possible. The coaster had not been maintained since 2005.[8]

Relocation to Green Bay[edit]

On February 7, 2010, the dismantlement was put on hold as Green Bay, Wisconsin Mayor Jim Schmitt and Green Bay's parks director Bill Landvatter visited Memphis to examine the Zippin Pippin as a candidate for inclusion in the expansion of Bay Beach Amusement Park.[9]

On February 11, 2010, The Zippin Pippin partially collapsed during dismantlement. The deal was not affected as most of the materials were understood to be unsalvageable.[10] On February 22, 2010, The Green Bay Parks and Recreation Committee voted to approve the project 4-0, and sent the measure to the city council.[11] On March 2, 2010, The Green Bay City Council approved plans to purchase the Zippin Pippin by a 7–4 vote.[12] The city spent $3.8 million to purchase and build the ride.[13]

The official groundbreaking for the Zippin Pippin's new location in Green Bay happened on August 25, 2010.[14] Media day was held on May 17, 2011 to promote the grand opening. It opened to the public on the following weekend on May 21, 2011. After operating for one month, the park saw a 45% increase in revenue compared to the previous year. The $1 ride had about 110,000 passengers in the month.[15] The roller coaster had over 460,000 riders in the first season which was over double the city's forecast.[13] The park had a 50 percent attendance increase over the previous year.[13] The ride drew praise as one of the best new amusement rides from Amusement Today and the Zippin Pippin was mentioned in a Newsweek article.[13] On Sunday, June 23, 2013 Bay Beach recognized the 1,000,000 rider on the Zippin Pippin since the relocation to Green Bay.


Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best wood-Tracked Roller Coaster[16]
Year 2011 2012 2013
Ranking 38 26 25


  1. ^ Smith, Matt (March 2, 2010). "City Council Approves Zippin Pippin Roller-coaster for Bay Beach". Green Bay, WI: WBAY-TV. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Photo of the Zippin Pippin in 1975". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). July 15, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2009. 
  3. ^ Emery, Theo (August 7, 2006). "End of a Park Fit for the King". Washington Post. 
  4. ^ "The Zippin Pippin". Libertyland. Archived from the original on December 7, 2004. Retrieved November 28, 2007. 
  5. ^ Williams, David (July 11, 2006). "Pippin owners seek expert view on moving coaster". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Archived from the original on July 28, 2006. Retrieved November 28, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Elvis' favorite roller coaster, Zippin Pippin, moving to Carolina Crossroads". Carolina Newswire. Retrieved January 21, 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ Callahan, Jody (November 17, 2009). "Libertyland demolition begins; salvageability of Zippin Pippin tested". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ Maki, Amos (January 28, 2010). "Derailed: Crews begin dismantling Libertyland's Zippin Pippin roller coaster". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Elvis's Favorite Coaster Could Roll Into Green Bay". Madison, WI: WISC-TV. February 8, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  10. ^ Maki, Amos (February 11, 2010). "Zippin Pippin's roller-coaster ride in Memphis comes to end with dismantling". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  11. ^ Callahan, Jody (February 24, 2010). "Green Bay gives initial OK to purchase Zippin Pippin". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  12. ^ Conley, Chris (March 3, 2010). "Green Bay council OKs purchase of Zippin Pippin". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d Williams, Scott Cooper (24 September 2011). "Zippin Pippin's premiere season 'awesome,' opens with record-breaking year". Green Bay Press Gazette. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Williams, Scott (August 25, 2010). "Ground broken for Zippin Pippin roller coaster in Green Bay". Green Bay Press Gazette. Retrieved August 25, 2010. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Zippin Pippin helping to post big numbers in first month of Bay Beach". Green Bay, WI: WTAQ-AM. June 23, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2011. 
  16. ^ Hawker, Mitch. "Wooden Roller Coaster Poll 20 Year Results Table (1994–2013)". Best Roller Coaster Poll. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 

External links[edit]