It’s the news many Libertyland and Memphis history fans have been waiting nearly a decade to hear: the former amusement park’s historic Grand Carousel will be rebuilt at the Children’s Museum of Memphis by 2017.
The Children’s Museum of Memphis has reportedly raised the funds needed for the refurbishment as well as the construction of a glass building on the museum’s front lawn which will house the carousel.
No one involved was talking on the record Monday, Feb. 2, about the announcement, but the carousel has long been a part of the administration’s tentative plans for the Children’s Museum, which is on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds property – at Central Avenue and Hollywood Street.
The Grand Carousel was dismantled in 2009, approximately 100 years after it was created. Its first stop in Memphis in the 1920s was the old East End Amusement Park in Midtown.
After its move from the East End, it became part of a set of rides at the fairgrounds long before Libertyland opened in 1976.
The carousel’s hand-carved and painted wooden creatures and bright and elaborate foundation were crated as Libertyland, which had closed four years earlier, was demolished in the development of Tiger Lane from the East Parkway entrance of the fairgrounds to the western side of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The carousel has been stored at an undisclosed location since it was dismantled in 2009.
Stay tuned to Remember Libertyland for the latest information on the rebuilding of the historic Grand Carousel!
The information side in front of the Zippin Pippin shed some light on its ties to Elvis:
The Zippin Pippin was Elvis Presley’s favorite ride. The “King” rented Libertyland August 8, 1977 from 1:15 a.m. until 7 a.m. to entertain a group of about 10 guests. Decked in a blue jumpsuite with black leather belt, huge belt buckle with turquoise studs and gold chains, the “king” rode the Zippin Pippin repeatedly during a two-hour period. He lost his belt buckle on the ride that morning, and it was found and returned the next day. Elvis’s Libertyland rental became his last public appearance. He died August 16.
A Theme Park Review member recently discovered that Libertyland’s Revolution roller coaster has been reconstructed at Gloria’s Fantasyland amusement park in the Philippines as the “Zimerman Corkscrew Coaster”:
The coaster apparently hasn’t reopened yet, but it’s interesting to see Libertyland’s classic looping coaster standing once again.
Do you remember your first ride on Libertyland’s Revolution roller coaster? Now you can wear your ride with pride thanks to our friends at Hieroglyph. They’re back with a brand-new retro-style Libertyland shirt inspired by actual Revolution promotional marketing pieces (as seen below).
The blue American Apparel “Poly-Cotton Crew” t-shirts are $20. Order yours here.
Your purchase of this shirt helps keep the Libertyland memories alive!
The original Zippin Pippin at Libertyland closed in 2005 and was subsequently sold at an auction for around $2,500 (yes, you read that correctly). The salvageable artifacts from the ride were sold to a travelling rock-n-roll museum, including one of the original trains that sat near the entrance of the ride. Fortunately, that original front car has returned to Memphis and I had the chance to see it this weekend.
The car was originally situated outside the entrance to the Zippin Pippin, allowing park guests to take a commemorative photo inside the historic car.
In the above photograph (c. late 1970s), one of the original Zippin Pippin trains can be seen in use.
I’m not exactly sure the make/model of this car, so if you are aware please share in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
The front plate displaying Elvis Presley’s signature was added after the car was removed from Libertyland. Elvis was known for renting out Libertyland (then known as Fairgrounds Amusement Park) for his friends. The Zippin Pippin was known as Elvis’ favorite ride. This was thought to be his favorite car to ride in.
The car isn’t in the best shape after sitting outside for so long, especially as most of it is made of wood.
The Zippin Pippin ride sign is propped up in the back of the car. The hound dog was Libertyland’s mascot in its earlier days of operation.
At some point these trains were retired for a more modern pair of Philadelphia Toboggan Company trains.
Some of the cars wheels are still attached, but are not visible due to the wooden “stand” that the car is still attached to.
I recently hit a jackpot of old Libertyland memorabilia. Expect a number of new posts in the coming days full of Libertyland artifacts!
First up are three old Libertyland postcards. I’m guessing that they are all from the late 1970s or early 1980s. If you know any more about these postcards please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post.
The Libertyland hound dog mascot takes a refreshing ride on the Old Hickory Log Flume in the above post card.
This late 1970s Libertyland postcard shows one of the older Zippin Pippin trains in operation.
Seen here is the crest of the Zippin Pippin lift hill.
Special thanks to Mike Cunningham for sharing these pieces of Libertyland history with me!