Great Wisconsin summer destinations

Bay Beach offers history and affordable family fun

CREATED Jun. 3, 2013

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  • MARK HOFFMAN/MHOFFMAN@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM Image by Mark Hoffman - Journal Sentinel

  • Image by Mark Hoffman - Journal Sentinel

  • The ride, a recreation of a coaster in Memphis that many say Elvis Presley loved to ride, was built by the city of Green Bay after it paid $10,000 for the design and naming rights. Image by Tom Lynn - Journal Sentinel

  • Sara Bruesewitz and Jennifer Pollitt, who both work in the mayor's office, ride the Zippin Pippin. Image by Mark Hoffman - Journal Sentinel

  • A temporary sign greets visitors to the Zippin Pippin. The city will use some of the original wood for the permanent sign and possibly a ticket booth. Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt thinks a family-friendly wooden coaster is just what the city-owned park needs to boost attendance and attract older teens who aren't interested in Bay Beach's children's rides. Image by Mark Hoffman - Journal Sentinel

GREEN BAY - Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay has been operating since 1892.

"We are the ninth oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States and we're actually tied for 21st in the world," said park manager Tina Westergaard. "We have a lot of history behind us, a lot of generations of families that come out and share their experiences."

The park draws visitors from around the world.

"We've had people from Russia, we've had people from Spain, we've had people from Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia," she said.

Bay Beach features 18 rides.

"We have an assortment of kids' rides, family rides, some adult rides. The most recent ride was the Zippin Pippin roller coaster in 2011," said Westergaard.

The Zippin Pippin was restored and brought up from Memphis, where it was Elvis Presley's favorite ride. Every year, Bay Beach pays tribute to the King.

"On August 8, we'll celebrate the 36th anniversary of Elvis Presley's last ride on the Zippin Pippin."

That was the last time Elvis rented out the park in Memphis for his daughter.

"And eight days later he passed away," said Westergaard.

While you won't see Elvis at Bay Beach, other famous people have been known to bring their families, like some of the Green Bay Packers.

"When they come out, people are very respectful of them, so sometimes we hear about them after the fact that they've been here and gone," Westergaard explained.

The park is currently in the process of adding its 19th ride.

"[That will be] the Sea Dragon, which is kind of a ship-type ride. We will have that fully operational for the 2014 season," said Westergaard.

Aside from its old time charm, Bay Beach's main attraction is that it's affordable. There's no admission or parking fee, and ride tickets are $0.25 each, with the most expensive ride requiring four tickets per person.

"This past weekend, I talked to a family that had been here all day, and they said they had spent maybe $30," she said.

While you're at the amusement park, you can also visit the Bay Beach wildlife sanctuary, which is right next door, and attendance is also free.