Zippin Pippin

The Zippin Pippin is one of the oldest existing wooden roller coasters in the United States. It was initially constructed in the former East End Park in Memphis, Tennessee, in either 1912, 1915, or 1917 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, later known as the Mid-South Fairgrounds. For a time it was incorporated as an attraction in the now-closed Libertyland amusement park there, until that park closed in 2005. Purchased by the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 2010, it was installed at the Bay Beach Amusement Park,[1] where it is once again in operation.

Zippin Pippin
Previously known as Pippin
Zippin Pippin Logo.jpg
Zippin Pippin Arial Photo.jpg
Zippin Pippin in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Bay Beach Amusement Park
Coordinates44°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
Opening dateMay 21, 2011 (2011-05-21)
Coordinates35°07′10″N 89°58′57″W / 35.119543°N 89.982630°W / 35.119543; -89.982630
Opening date1912
Closing date2005
General statistics
ManufacturerThe Gravity Group
DesignerJohn A. Miller
ModelWooden Coaster
Track layoutMartin & Vleminckx
Lift/launch systemChain lift hill
Height70 ft (21 m)
Drop70 ft (21 m)
Length2,865 ft (873 m)
Speed40 mph (64 km/h)
Max vertical angle64°
Height restriction48 in (122 cm)
Zippin Pippin at RCDB
Pictures of Zippin Pippin at RCDB


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

The Pippin was built in 1912,[2] 1915,[3] or 1917.[4] After severe damage from a tornado in April 1928, the Pippin was rebuilt by July of the same year at a cost of $45,000,[5] "higher and longer" than before.[6]

In 1976, the city of Memphis opened a theme park called Libertyland around the Pippin and the Grand Carousel, also on the grounds.[7] 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. At first, Presley would rent the entire park on occasion just to ride it without constant fan interference.[8] Just a week before his death, Presley 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." It 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."[9]

Dismantling and relocationEdit

Back in operation at Green Bay, July 2012
On June 23, 2013, the Zippin Pippin had its one millionth rider in Green Bay.


On June 21, 2006, the Zippin Pippin was sold at auction to 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). They purchased the Pippin for $2,500, having initially planned to bid on only 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.[10]

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 would be a 1,000-acre (400 ha) music park, including the 1,500-seat Roanoke Rapids theatre, outdoor amphitheatre, waterpark, and outlet shopping center.[11]

On November 16, 2009, a section of the Pippin's track was torn out to determine the salvageability of the materials.[12]

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.[13]

Relocation to Green BayEdit

On February 7, 2010, the dismantlement was put on hold as Green Bay, Wisconsin administrators visited Memphis to examine the Zippin Pippin for use in Bay Beach Amusement Park.[14] The Zippin Pippin partially collapsed during dismantlement, but the deal was not affected as most of the materials were understood to be unsalvageable.[15] After the Green Bay City Council approved plans to purchase the Zippin Pippin,[16] the city spent $3.8 million to purchase and rebuild the ride.[17]

The groundbreaking for the Zippin Pippin's new location in Green Bay took place on August 25, 2010.[18] It opened to the public on May 21, 2011. The ride had about 110,000 passengers in the first month[19] and over 460,000 riders in the first season.[17] On June 23, 2013 Bay Beach recognized the 1,000,000th rider on the Zippin Pippin since the relocation to Green Bay.[20]


On June 20, 2016, a Zippin Pippin train collided with an empty one in the loading area. Three people had minor injuries.[21]

On May 26, 2017, the ride was temporarily shut down for repairs due to a "sensor" issue. The ride's train is in the station and no one was ever stuck on the ride, city workers say. The city is operating one train of cars on the roller-coaster instead of two this year. The ride was shut down for two-and-a-half weeks last summer after a set of cars failed to stop and crashed into the train ahead of it. A rider and two park workers were injured.[22]


Zippin Pippin was ranked in the Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards for best new ride of 2011 with 5% of the vote, to come in fourth place.[23]

Golden Ticket Awards: Best New Ride for 2011

Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best wood-Tracked Roller Coaster[24]
Year 2011 2012 2013
Ranking 38 26 25

The roller coaster was not ranked among the top 100 in CoasterBuzz's listing.[25]


  1. ^ Smith, Matt (March 2, 2010). "City Council Approves Zippin Pippin Roller-coaster for Bay Beach". WBAY-TV. Green Bay, WI. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  2. ^ The Commercial Appeal, April 27, 1993.
  3. ^ The Commercial Appeal, April 17, 1966.
  4. ^ The Commercial Appeal, December 26, 1974.
  5. ^ The Commercial Appeal, July 3, 2003.
  6. ^ The Commercial Appeal, April 27, 1928.
  7. ^ "Photo of the Zippin Pippin in 1975". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. July 15, 2009. Archived from the original on July 17, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  8. ^ Emery, Theo (August 7, 2006). "End of a Park Fit for the King". Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 23, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Zippin Pippin". Libertyland. Archived from the original on December 7, 2004. Retrieved November 28, 2007.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Elvis' favorite roller coaster, Zippin Pippin, moving to Carolina Crossroads". Carolina Newswire. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  12. ^ Callahan, Jody (November 17, 2009). "Libertyland demolition begins; salvageability of Zippin Pippin tested". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  13. ^ Maki, Amos (January 28, 2010). "Derailed: Crews begin dismantling Libertyland's Zippin Pippin roller coaster". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. Archived from the original on February 1, 2010. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  14. ^ "Elvis's Favorite Coaster Could Roll Into Green Bay". WISC-TV. Madison, WI. February 8, 2010. Archived from the original on November 21, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  15. ^ Maki, Amos (February 11, 2010). "Zippin Pippin's roller-coaster ride in Memphis comes to end with dismantling". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. Archived from the original on February 18, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  16. ^ Conley, Chris (March 3, 2010). "Green Bay council OKs purchase of Zippin Pippin". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. Archived from the original on March 21, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  17. ^ a b 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.
  18. ^ Williams, Scott (August 25, 2010). "Ground broken for Zippin Pippin roller coaster in Green Bay". Green Bay Press Gazette. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  19. ^ "Zippin Pippin helping to post big numbers in first month of Bay Beach". WTAQ-AM. Green Bay, WI. June 23, 2011. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  20. ^ "Zippin Pippin: Then and Now". Coaster101. 2014-09-01. Archived from the original on 2019-01-19. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  21. ^ Wagness, Billy (June 21, 2016). "3 Hurt on Zippin Pippin ride at Bay Beach". Archived from the original on August 11, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  22. ^ "Zippin Pippin closed due to sensor issue". 2017-05-26. Archived from the original on 2018-08-09. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  23. ^ a b "Amusement Today — Golden Ticket Winners 2011" (PDF). Amusement Today. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 12, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  24. ^ Hawker, Mitch. "Wooden Roller Coaster Poll 20 Year Results Table (1994–2013)". Best Roller Coaster Poll. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  25. ^ "Top 100 Roller Coasters". CoasterBuzz. Archived from the original on February 27, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2016.

External linksEdit