The Zippin Pippin, the most prominent and historic ride at Libertyland, sold for $2,500 today at public auction. The historic roller coaster, reportedly Elvis Presley's favorite ride, had been in operation since 1923. It was among an estimated 100 items Mid-South Fair officials put up for auction Wednesday as they prepare to close the park and sell off the assets to recoup losses.
Topping the money list was the Kamikazi, which sold for $190,000, followed by the Rebellion at $155,000. The park's other roller coaster, the Revolution, sold for $55,000.
About 75 people paid the $10 fee to take part in the auction that started around 10:30 a.m. and wrapped up shortly after 3 p.m. The auction was conducted by Norton Auctioneers of Coldwater, Mich., which specializes in the auction and appraisal of amusement parks, carnivals, Halloween attractions, zoos, water parks and other tourist attractions. Fair and auction officials had estimated that the sale could bring in as much as $1 million. Billy Orr, president and CEO of the Mid-South Fair, said after the auction they expected the sales total to be close to that figure. A final tally was not expected until Thursday. Those buying the items have 30 days to remove them from the park, Orr said.
Updated with info on the buyers:
Owners of a small museum wanted a piece of Elvis Presley's favourite amusement park ride but ended up instead with the whole thing - a roller coaster called the Zippin Pippin.
The Pippin was bought by the city's park commission in 1947. Most of the superstructure for its 850 metres of track was replaced over the years but it's still billed as one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the country. The ride was a top attraction at Libertyland, a 30-year-old amusement park Presley often rented for private parties.
Libertyland is closing and its rides and concession stands were sold at auction Wednesday.
Robert Reynolds and Stephen Shutts, partners in a travelling museum called the Honky Tonk Hall of Fame & Rock-N-Roll Roadshow, showed up planning to bid on one of the roller coaster cars.
Instead, they bought the whole Pippin for $2,500 US. It went cheap because the sale agreement gives the buyer a month to take it down and haul it away.
Reynolds said he had not yet decided what they will do with the Pippin.
"There's 30 days to figure it out. . . . The car is all we needed," he said.