For the THRILL of the RIDE!
The story of Elvis’s favourite ride, the “Zippin Pippin” Rollercoaster.

What is it that YOU love about Elvis?

I know, everything right! His timeless good looks, velvety voice, don’t-tell-your-mother moves, endearing sense of humour, iconic style, killer smile…the list goes on.  However, one thing I have always been captivated by is his childlike sense of fun & innocence.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the Zippin Pippin, a wooden roller coaster built over 100 years ago, which was said to be his favourite.  Originally located at Libertyland in Memphis, he was known to often rent the entire park to enjoy the ride without being bothered by fans.

It is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the States and is now located at Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  At Libertyland it enjoyed billing as the most prominent and historic ride.

Now, Green Bay is a long distance from Memphis, but park officials have not let the Elvis connection slide.  In one such instance of playing up this connection, in August 2017, in recognition of the King’s final roller coaster ride, the park hosted performances by Elvis tribute artists and, in true Elvis style, peanut butter and banana sandwiches were on the menu.

The roller coaster has proven so popular in Wisconsin that the park’s profits increased by a handsome 50% according to park officials.  Not bad when you consider the roller coaster was left abandoned from 2005 until the mayor of Green Bay and other city leaders came along some years later with their sights set on purchasing it, and rebuilding it where it stands now on Pottowattomie Avenue.  That’s right, Pottowattomie.  Try saying that ten times quickly!

But back to Elvis.

In the week before his death, he rented the park from 1.00am to 7.00am, entertaining a small number of guests while riding the Zippin Pippin over and over again, accompanied by Lisa Marie.  As for his sartorial choices zippin’ around on the roller coaster that night, he donned a blue jumpsuit with a black leather belt, a belt buckle encrusted with turquoise studs, and gold chains.  He actually lost the belt buckle in the morning, but it was found and returned the following day.  Sadly, however, this unconventional visit to Libertyland would be the last time he was seen in public.

I can only be grateful that he was able to release some of his boyhood innocence and enjoy the thrill of the ride a few more times with his darling little Lisa before his untimely death. Freewheeling on the Zippin Pippin, life really was a carnival and Elvis was living it for all he was worth!

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