When it was located at Libertyland Amusement Park in Memphis TN, the Zippin Pippin rollercoaster was Elvis Presley’s favorite ride. On several occasions, he would buy out the park and host a private party for friends and family.
The last time Elvis rode the Zippin Pippin was on August 8, 1977, just 8 days before his death. At that time, it’s said that he lost a belt buckle.
Zippin’ Pippin Moves to Green Bay
Libertyland fell victim to economic problems and closed in 2005. That was right smack in the middle of James Schmitt’s first term as mayor of Green Bay Wisconsin. He was re-elected in 2007 with 70 percent of the vote, but that was before Schmitt got the crazy idea of buying the Zippin Pippin and moving it to Green Bay. The thing cost $35,000!
Moving a rollercoaster, reassembling it, insuring it and so forth cost thousands more and the people of Green Bay were outraged. Spending this kind of money for a rollercoaster in the worst economic conditions since … well, you know the line.
But Schmitt and the city persevered and on May 27, 2011, the Zippin’ Pippin opened for riders at the Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay.
This is a classic 1950s era family fun park. There’s nothing Disney or Six-Flagish about it. There’s no fee for parking, no admission fee and rides are just $1, with the exception of the live ponies for $2. All of the rides are 1950s-era with swings and Scramblers and Tilt-A-Whirls. At any time, you expect to see The Beaver and Wally join you for a ride.
But Bay Beach had become a little ho-hum. It was a great place for play dates with pre-schoolers, and nice for a church picnic and all, but Bay Beach needed some pizzazz, something to be “all shook up” about. And it turns out, the Zippin’ Pippin was just the thing.
Putting the Zip in more than the Pip
In the first year, ridership on all rides jumped almost 33 percent, from 983,000 rides to 1,285,000 rides. Concession stand revenue jumped 57 percent. The Zippin’ Pippin needed to log 200,000 paying rides in the first year to pay off the bond used to purchase the rollercoaster. More than 462,000 rides took place that first year.
The Bay Beach Amusement Park is now the hottest date night destination in Green Bay, and pretty much fun for summertime vacationers as well. Because this is Wisconsin and Green Bay gets about 50 inches of snow a year, yes, the park is open only from mid-May to mid-September.
Now that’s something to be all shook up about.