Libertyland: Memphis’ Amusement Park

I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by John Stevenson on Libertyland today. Even if you spent your childhood at the park, this post is sure to bring back lots of memories. Or if you’re like me and didn’t get to Memphis in time to truly experience the park you’ll get a small taste of what a wonderful little place it was. Please be sure to leave your own memory of the park in the comments at the end of the post!

Do you remember your first visit to Libertyland? Or are you too young or too new to Memphis to even know what Libertyland is? Sadly, the latter group seems to be growing with each passing year.

Libertyland Memphis Front Gates

From 1976 until 2005, Memphis was home to Libertyland, a modest amusement park located at the Mid-South Fairgrounds. Growing up as a roller coaster enthusiast, Libertyland was my favorite place in town. I recall begging my parents to take me to the park — even though I was too scared for most of the “big kid” attractions.

Opening during America’s bicentennial, Libertyland was patriotically themed from top to bottom. Each of the park’s three areas represented the nation in a different period: Colonial Land, Frontier Land and Turn-of-the-Century Land.

More than 13,500 people visited the park on opening day, July 4, 1976. Special guests were on hand as well, like Barbara Bonifield, the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of second president John Adams. She fittingly rang the park’s own replica of the Liberty Bell.

Libertyland wasn’t the biggest or greatest amusement park. But its quirky and historical charm was distinctly Memphis. And it offered something no other park could claim — Elvis Presley’s favorite ride.

Libertyland Zippin Pippin Entrance

The Zippin Pippin wooden roller coaster originally opened as the “Pippin” at the Fairgrounds Amusement Park (the precursor to Libertyland) in 1912. Or 1915. Or 1917. Or 1923. No one seems to know for sure. Some say it was originally built at the short-lived East End Amusement Park (near the Overton Square area). Others believe the East End roller coaster was unrelated.

Zippin Pippin Survive the Revolution Poster

Various issues of the Commercial Appeal tell conflicting stories about the Zippin Pippin. A severe storm supposedly damaged the roller coaster so badly in 1928 that it was rebuilt — “higher and longer” — just a few months later. Regardless of when it opened or in what form, it was undoubtedly one of the oldest operating roller coasters in North America when it closed in October of 2005.

zippin pippin rollercoaster

You probably remember your first ride on the Zippin Pippin quite well. Although it was notorious for giving wild and “out of control” rides, the coaster was safe — its wooden structure was replaced in sections every seven years.

Libertyland was quirky, indeed. At one time, there was a dolphin show inside the park, as well as a seasonal ice-skating rink (the skates for which are now used at the Memphis Zoo’s rink).

Memphis Libertyland Dolphins

The park was also home to an assortment of unassuming historical knick knacks collected over the years — like the 26-foot-tall, hand-carved totem pole brought from the Northwest by a vacationing E.H. Crump. There was also the old-fashioned, dogtrot-style log cabin that was moved to Davis Manor Plantation in December 2006. And who could forget the rustic train caboose that sat near the front of the park?

Some of these historical gems were sold in a June 2006 auction of the park’s assets. Others vanished or have been locked away in storage. The historic 1909 Grand Carousel was dismantled and is currently in storage at an undisclosed location. The full-size replica of the original Liberty Bell now sits in a warehouse in Tunica along with other park memorabilia.

Libertyland Logo Memphis

Sure, Libertyland wasn’t Disneyland. It wasn’t Six Flags. But it was Memphis. It was a piece of the mosaic that makes Memphis such an incredibly unique city. And while the amusement park is long gone, I hope that the memories of Libertyland are able to live on. And perhaps pieces of the park, like the Grand Carousel, will someday return to entertain future generations of Memphians.

Leave your Libertyland memory in the comments below! For more on the park, stop in at

[If you believe any of the images posted here infringe on your copyright, please email us memphistypehistory(at)]

Latest posts by Caitlin L. Horton (see all)

By Caitlin L. Horton

Partner-in-crime for entrepreneurs and community builders getting their message out with thoughtful design and marketing.

15 replies on “Libertyland: Memphis’ Amusement Park”

Holy cow at the memories that surfaced after reading this. My first visit to the park was in the early 80s. I loved the Revolution, but it terrified my older sister. Was there another roller coaster other than the Zippin’ Pippin and Revolution? Or does my memory need to be calibrated?

There was also the Super Loop that was just a big circle. My sister and I used to stand under it and gather the money that fell from people’s pockets lmao

I rode the Pippin when I was only 8 years old, in the early 50s. SO many memories. Thank you so much for this nostalgic look back!

Yes I remember liberty land so well.went on lot dates. To the my first dates was when it opened I 1976. I was only 16. So many great times. I worked there.To.Love ed it. Even when I had kids they loved going there to ride and zippinpippin. Log flume, car’s, resolution…Mega. drop, spider, twister,,,scrambler,, 1912. Horses. Merry go round.. But was there in October 2006. When last day at mid south fair close ed. It was very saddle day for my family. We show ed sheep at mid south fair. For 10 years. Memphis let all of fun go. KNOW we don’t have nothing. Sonja

hi, my name is Angus McIntosh and I’M doing a project on liberty Land. I was wondering if you could help me?
Sincerely, Angus

Yes liberty land was great me And. family loved going. Loved seeing rides at pawpaw took us.miss liberty and great memories

I was a leasee in Libertyland for 20 years, and associated with the park for about 3 years before that. From appx. 1978 thru 1999. I had the Old Time Photos, Magic Shop, Video Buttons, Temporary Tattoos, computer photos, Sand Art, Engraved Keychains, Sailor Hats, Keychain Viewers of photos taken on the Antique Cars and on the Flume. I very much enjoyed my years in Memphis even though I live in Mo. I met a lot of great people there including a lot of wonderful teens who worked for me during my years there.

I remember on my 8th birthday going to Liberty Land to the dolphin show.
They called for any birthdays in the crowd, now this was my second visit to Liberty Land and I knew what was about to happen.
So being apprehensive I kept my hands in my lap.
They made a second call for a birthday and my mom grabs my arm and hauls it up over my head.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved dolphins and still do but at that time I had an intense fear of deep water.
So I make my way to the platform above the tank where the trainer/host asks my name and how old I was.
Then she introduces me to the seal who plays happy birthday on a horn and plays catch with a beach ball for a minute before introducing me to the first of the two star’s of the show.
He beaches hinself up on the platform where she asks if I wanted to pet him.
So when I do I commented that his skin felt like rubber.
The host/trainer then makes a joke that yes we blow them up and toss them in every morning.
Then came part of the show that I already knew was coming and was so apprehensive about, they brought out the little rubber raft.
Placing it in the water and signaling the dolphin to return to the water she helps me into the raft and tosses the long rope attatched to it into the water.
Sitting absolutely still in the raft, partly out of fear of the water and partly excitement about the dolphins, as they begin pulling me around the tank.
I only did a lap or two around the tank but it’s one of my favorite childhood memories.
Today is the first I’ve heard of the parks fate and it saddens me I never got to take my children back to repeat my experience for them.

Wow, stumbled upon this and realized I must be a real senior citizen. That was my first job after graduating college. I’ve got a lot of pictures and slides of the construction of the park. My father was the General Contractor of Libertyland and I’m the General Contractor that removed it and built Tiger Lane.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *