Obscurity Tour 2005---Part #3---Libertyland (Memphis, TN)

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*** For pure park info...

I’m beginning to sound like the grumpy old man. The upcoming trip report will not be construed as too positive. Please know that I was having a blast on the trip, even if the parks and rides were not quite comparable to the many I have visited before. And besides…my next visit includes Visionland and Rampage! :-)

On Thursday June 30th I left the motel in Little Rock to get to Birmingham, AL. But on my way, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit Libertyland. This park made such a huge impression on me that I forgot I was there when I wrote part #1. This is probably a reflection of my poor memory as much as a reflection on the park itself.

This was my 2nd visit to Libertyland. Two or three years ago I arrived at this park 8 minutes prior to closing. The staff was nice enough to let me in the gates and ride the Zippin Pippin twice without charging a thing. I’ve never forgotten that generosity and am loathe to criticizing their facilities. However, I pride myself on telling it like it is.

On my first visit it was obvious that they were doing track work on the Pippin. I enjoyed my rides and recalled a few moments of airtime. While no means a top 25 woodie, I regarded this as an enjoyable coaster. My oh my how 2-3 years have changed this ride…


1. Zippin Pippin---The condition of this ride is a travesty that parallels the brakes on The Beast and overhead restraints on The Revolution. While I certainly never rode this ride in its prime, I’ve been on enough coasters to know a good layout and design when I see it. This machine is primed for airtime galore, yet they’ve let the wood decay and the track gauge distort to a level to which I would not be shocked that some day soon the train will not make it back to the station. They’ve even managed to add a break to the far turnaround, which kills any decent chance at some fun on the bunny hop returns. I pray somebody will buy this thing and restore it to the ride it should/could be. As it is now, it is a big old piece of dung.

While I’ve got no way of knowing Elvis’ coaster credentials, I’m certain that a man of his stature was not renting out this park to get rides on the Pippin I rode on 6/30/05. I’d prefer he used his money to tear the thing down if this were the case. I never thought I’d reach a point where I’d prefer no coaster at all than one still operating, but the Pippin is a sad reflection that ruins the reputations of all wooden coasters. The children of Memphis certainly will not grow up singing the praises of wood. This sickens me…

2. Revolution---This is a rusty old standard corkscrew model. I rode the front seat by myself. I feared for my life like no other ride since the William’s Grove Cyclone. I made it off alive. This is the best I can say…and oh yea…this is the best coaster in the park.

3. Drop Ride---Though not a coaster, I have broken tradition and put it in my numbered list of rides to describe. This looks like a fair model and is located immediately through the gates slightly to the right. From the loading perspective it would appear that the floorless seats go 360 degrees around the structure, but this model gets by with only 180 degrees worth of seats (about 8 or 9). This is not the tallest or fastest by a long shot…but it may be the scariest. The breaks don’t seem to kick in until you are 10-15 feet from the ground and the deceleration is immediate. I got off this thing and had to catch my breath. I loved this thing…and I’m not one who cares too much about drop rides!

Libertyland is a park well into the decaying stages. If you are a sentimentalist or credit seeker I would advise you to get there now. I see no way the park is still here 5 years down the road (but who really knows). It is located on a fairground, so maybe the fair gives enough influx of cash to keep it going year to year…?

The day I was there was the hottest and muggiest experience I can ever recall. I arrived around 1:00 pm (an hour or two after opening) and there were 11 cars in the parking lot. I estimate that there were about 35 people in the entire park. If it were not for a large family reunion there would have been about 10 of us. The park had a flume ride I did not ride and a few “old school” flats that I ignored. I did not try the food in the park, but had the best barbecue ever, about ½ mile down the road (I forget the name…”Southern Barbecue”…?).

As for my social commentary (meant with good humor only)…I was the only white guy in the park that day. This included the 35 patrons and the operators. I’m quite sure that most in the park were scared of me. What old white guy would be crazy enough to go solo? I felt like breaking into some Eminem---“You all act like you’ve never seen a white person before…?” But I “kept it real” and did my thing. I managed to befriend the family reunion group and had some fun waiting in line for a few Pippin spins hoping it would get better…it never did!

*** Edited 7/26/2005 7:09:33 PM UTC by Jeffrey R Smith***

I rode Liberty Land's Zippin Pippin last year and it was in quite good condition. I don't remember there being any brakes during the course, and the return run was a bit slugish. Also, while the Revoltion was rusty, it seemed well maintained and quite smooth for an older Arrow Loop & Cork.

The neighborhood the park is in is quite bad, but I found the park to be nice.

rollergator's avatar
Agreed, Parker...

THIS Revolution actually merited re-rides. I was surprised to actually find an old Arrow that didn't bang my head.

Now we MIGHT have gotten better-than-average rides due to the *event* happening, but I found Pippin quite enjoyable. I may not have it in my top ten or anything (Tina), but it WAS really good...;)

I did not recall the brake either from my prior visit...but it was indeed on the far turn-around on 6/30/05. About 1/2 mile from the park are some of the largest and nices homes I've seen. Of course the immediate area is not great.
It's too bad they added brakes, but at least the ride is still standing. :) Wasn't a top 10 for me when I rode it, but I know many people fell in love with it during the event. Definately had some nice air on the second and third drops, one of my favorite coaster moments! Hopefully the ride can be restored a bit to run as Miller intended it to.
I also thought Pippin was running incredible last year. It sounds like you are having one of those "missed it by one year" trips. I can relate as it has probably happend to everyone at least once.


coasterqueenTRN's avatar
I really enjoyed Libertyland during the Pres Con. Despite the heat and humidity (yes I love the cooler weather) I had an awesome time. The pronto pups (which I haven't seen at another park except Camden) as well as the peanut butter and banana sandwiches (the latter being a Pres Con thing only?) was da bomb. The staff was VERY nice, and Bill and I managed to snag a ride on the Dragon Wagon before the other ACEr's figured what we were up to. ;-) Kudos to the ride ops and the kids that let us ride with them! :-)

Elvis used to rent out the park frequently (usually for his daughter and her friends). From what I heard Elvis himself was a HUGE coaster enthusiast (long before the term was *coined*....lol.) I am not sure about his track record, but I know he absolutely LOVED the Pippin, and used to visit amusement parks while on the road. He was a huge fan of the smaller parks, as well as Disneyland/Disneyworld, and Knott's.

From what I understand Elvis and his friends used to get out of the coaster (The Pippin) at the top of the lift hill, just to mess with the ride ops. :-)

Yes, Pippin is in my top 10 (and I included it in my Golden Ticket ballot) It's a VERY underrated coaster much like the Screechin Eagle (which was also in my top 10). Airtime galore. I LOVED the Pippin. Whether it's having a "bad" year I don't know. I hope not.

During the Pres Con we only rode it during ERT but oh......my........GOD! That puppy was flying!


<-----who knows WAY too much about Elvis.

*** Edited 7/27/2005 7:26:55 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

Maybe it's having a rough year. I rode it back in early June and found nothing "zippy" about it. And I also thought that the layout held a lot of potential. I don't know, maybe Libertyland went the extra step for the ACEers last summer and got it in tip top shape for the ERT, as I had heard nothing but positive reviews coming out of that event.
They actually do fine, and pay their bills. Unfortunately, they do not generate enough revenue for multiple capital projects, like you described they need, like track work, coaster painting, etc. Those are not R&M projects, they are capital.

Libertyland will not grow much with Dollywood and Silver Dollar City leading the pack in the region marketing themselves for families and vacation dollars.

Libertyland is a picnic park, and day trip park. The only way they would benefit is for the fairgrounds themselves to have more events, or expand into a combined waterpark. Both the Mid-South Fair and Liberyland is operated as one entity.

I assumed the fair/park had some sort of financial combination. I'm glad to hear they are doing fine. On first glance, this park seems to be in decline, but hopefully it will be around longer! I wish there was a way the Pippin could get the attention it so badly needs...

Does Memphis have a waterpark? If not...they certainly could use one!

P.S. So could Vegas... :-)

coasterqueenTRN's avatar
To my knowledge I don't think they have a waterpark, at least near Libertyland. The biggest "attraction" to Memphis is obviously Graceland, Beale Street, and the barbecue. ;-) Beale Street is AWESOME!

I hope Libertyland (and the Pippin) gets the attention it deserves. I wasn't too crazy about the neighborhood it was in but the park, and the employees were really nice. I was impressed. :-) They need more events out there.

Vegas does have waterparks don't they? I thought the Excalibur had one, sorta....lol.


Wet n Wild closed this year. There are no waterparks that are not hotel limited. A town of over 1 million (maybe 1.5 now) in the desert could stand to use a waterpark.

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