Penn State alumnus' book 'Land of Fun' a labor of love

July 26, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Good stories are about people, and Penn State alumnus Chris Lindsley knows that.

Lindsley also knows how to tell a story, and he proves that with his book that focuses on Funland — the timeless amusement park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Chris Lindsley, Land of Fun author

Chris Lindsley, author of Land of Fun, worked at Funland for six summers in high school and college.

IMAGE: Photo Provided

In “Land of Fun: The Story of an Old-Fashioned Amusement Park for the Ages,” Lindsley tells the story of Funland, its 90-year-old co-founder —  Al Fasnacht, also a Penn State alumnus — and the four generations of his family who have created a summer beach institution based on valuing customer experience over profits.

Lindsley’s 143-page paperback book also includes 16 personal stories from people who share what makes the amusement park special to them.

The book — part history, part memoir — represents a labor of love for Lindsley, who spent six summers in high school and college working at Funland. He earned his journalism degree from Penn State in 1987 and, like more than 300,000 other people each summer, continues to visit Funland with his family.

“I learned so much from the Fasnacht family, and particularly from Al, about leading by example, the benefits of hard work, and doing things the right way in working at Funland and in the years since. I wrote the book to share their story and the life lessons I learned with a wider audience,” Lindsley said. “The best part about writing the book was hearing everyone’s Funland stories, and how enthusiastically they shared them. Funland has meant so much to so many people over the last six decades, and that’s what my book is all about.”

Funland has been owned and operated by Fasnacht — who earned his degree from Penn State in commerce and finance in 1950 — and his family since 1962. It’s one of less than 25 seaside amusement parks still active in the United States, down significantly from 1,500 in the 1920s.

“The best part about writing the book was hearing everyone’s Funland stories, and how enthusiastically they shared them. Funland has meant so much to so many people over the last six decades, and that’s what my book is all about.”

— Penn State alumnus and author Chris Lindsley 

So as the park provides a family friendly, throwback experience for visitors, Lindsley provides an inside look at what that means and why it continues to happen. In the process, it evokes a feeling as well as many tangible impacts for those who have visited or worked at Funland.

“From day one, Al emphasized that all of his summer employees were not working for his family, but with his family,” Lindsley said. “They did things like having sub nights, pizza nights and bumper car nights; playing softball and football with summer employees; and housing us in dorms above the park and feeding us, things other employers did not do.

"In fact, that family feeling continues long after our working days are over. Al attended my wedding and my father’s memorial service, the type of thing he’s done for thousands of employees over the years, all with little fanfare. Those gestures say a lot about Al and his family, and are ones I will always remember.”

From a self-reliant approach (illustrated by the story of how the Fasnacht family created the park’s nationally acclaimed haunted mansion from scratch) to the five rides that remain in operation since the park’s opening and the family-oriented business model, Lindsley’s book provides an interesting read for Funland and Rehoboth regulars, as well as those who have never visited the amusement park.

The book also addressees the impact of a 2015 national TV appearance on the park and shares how another Penn State alumnus — graphic designer Brian Allen, who earned his advertising/public relations degree in 2004 — has left his mark on Funland.

Lindsley has 35 years of writing and editing experience. He works as a senior director of internal communications for the University of Maryland Medical System and lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, with his wife and two children.

Last Updated August 19, 2019