LivingTravelWhat happened to Libertyland, the amusement park in Memphis?

What happened to Libertyland, the amusement park in Memphis?

If you grew up in Memphis, you knew you wanted to travel to Libertyland. It was a small amusement park that was open from 1976 to 2005. It was located at the Memphis fairgrounds and incorporated many existing rides, including the Grand Carousel. The Zippin Pippin roller coaster, with its twists and turns, was Elvis Presley’s favorite. Rumor has it that he would rent the entire park for his crew from time to time.

Problems arose in 2005 when owners threatened to auction off the most famous games, including the Zippin Pippin. A local activist named Denise Parkinson stepped forward and formed the group Save Libertyland. She argued that by destroying the city’s beloved amusement park, she would be destroying an important part of history. Zippin Pippin and Grand Carousel are both on the National Register of Historic Places. The last was built in 1909.

Save Libertyland made a heroic effort. The group organized protests and gathered signatures for a petition to save the park. They even attracted investors who were willing to revitalize the park, including T-Rex Entertainment, which offered to lease the park for $ 10,000 per month. The offer was initially rejected by both a city official and members of the Mid-South Fair Board. Later, both parties reconsidered.

The group’s second major victory came when they incited the city to investigate its own travel rights. After much investigation, the city attorney produced documents proving that the city owns both the Zippin Pippin and the Grand Carousel, forcing the Fair Board to remove both sets from the auction block.

These efforts were valiant, but they were not enough. On October 29, 2005, Libertyland closed its doors forever due to finances. The Zippin Pippin was sold to the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2010, and the rest of the games were demolished. The land was cleared. The carousel was kept in storage until 2015, when the Memphis Children’s Museum purchased the historic ride and renovated it.

The Grand Carousel reopened on December 2, 2017 inside a new pavilion and event center at the Memphis Children’s Museum, not far from its first Memphis home on the fairgrounds. The carousel is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and rides cost $ 3 per person. The carousel runs in the quarter of an hour.

Today, on the site of the old Libertyland, there is now a disc golf course and a new recreation area in front of the Liberty Bowl called “Tiger Lane.” The future of the Middle South Coliseum and the Fairgrounds in question.

Updated by Holly Whitfield November 2017

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