Q&A With Cole Lindbergh of “For Your Amusement”
Recently, we stumbled upon a Kickstarter Project entitled “For Your Amusement,” which is an Amusement Park Travel Show, highlighting more than just rides, but overall theme park history. Their goal is to raise $37,000 by April 4 in order to film their pilot episode at Knoebels. We talked to Cole Lindbergh, the brains behind “For Your Amusement,” to get some more information on his project.
C101: Tell us a little bit about your background as it relates to theme parks.
Cole: In 2001, when I was 14 I started working in the Games Department at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri. Being a season pass-holder since I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to have a job at an amusement park, and most importantly, my home park. I ended up working at Worlds of Fun for 12 years, seven as a seasonal employee, and then the last 5 as a full time year round employee as the Games Manager. I was in charge of all the midway games and arcades, along with hiring, training, purchasing, and so much more. I loved my job in the Games Department. It was the most fun place to work, and the best job I’ve ever had.
C101: How did you come up with the idea for an Amusement Park Television Show?
Cole: In August of 2011 I was featured on the nationally syndicated radio program This American Life. After the piece aired I was bombarded with production companies that wanted to create a reality television show that took place at Worlds of Fun starring the Games Department. The logistics of doing a show like that could go on for days, and a reality show never came to be, but I started building connections and began pitching several ideas for amusement park related shows.
I was tired of watching the reruns of “Extreme Waterparks” and “Top 10 Ultimate Thrills” (or whatever they were called), and I knew that there was an opportunity to do a show that looked at an amusement park as a whole, not just the one or two thrill rides. I wanted to see a show that went behind the scenes, and talked about park history, and most importantly, introduced me to the people that operate amusement parks. To me, that is what will make the show stand out, I’m not looking at just a roller coaster, I want to look at the story of how that coaster and that park came to be.
I love reading trip reports, and watching POV videos on YouTube, and For Your Amusement was born out of the idea that amusement parks are so much more than just a roller coaster. Amusement parks are their own specialized cities with so many stories to tell. Talk to anyone you know who has ever worked at an amusement park, every single one of them has that little nugget to tell about their time at the park. All great TV has one thing in common, a great story, and that’s what really will set this show apart.
C101: Do you have any prior background in Television?
Cole: I really don’t have any prior background in television, but I guess you could say I’m a huge TV/movie nerd. During my later years of high school and early college years I started taking several film classes, and I was incredibly interested in the production side of movies and TV shows. From there I started making short films, parody videos and that eventually branched that into creating videos at Worlds of Fun starring the Games Department. The videos can be found here.
C101: What would the filming process be like for a typical show?
Cole: With this Kickstarter campaign we are asking for funding to film the pilot episode to take place at Knoebels. If we get the funding we will be traveling to Knoebels in June and filming for three days. For this pilot we are working closely with Knoebels to make this a very collaborative project. We’re discussing outlines, content, and creating a blueprint on how we can capture all the wonderful things that Knoebels has to offer, and do that without disturbing their day to day operation. We are taking into account they will be up and operational while we are there. I’ve been to Knoebels before so I have a little bit of a leg up on what we need to make sure we hit, but the main thing is that we will have the entire episode planned and ready before we even hit Pennsylvania. If future episodes happen, we will do the same with any park.
C101: What kind of topics would you touch on during a typical episode of “For Your Amusement?”
Cole: The show will always have the basic park history, an introduction of a few key employees, and a showcase of something unique and different that sets the park apart from others. We will also have reoccurring segments, interviews, games, and some behind the scenes access. The real goal is to make sure there is some form of through line that travels through the whole show, and that all the little segments add up to bring the story of the park together.
C101: You mention on your Kickstarter Page that you will be working with Through A Glass Productions. How did you get linked up with them?
Cole: Through A Glass is a production company based out of Lawrence, Kansas. I was first made aware of their work when I was attending classes at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. When I began speaking with companies, Through A Glass stood out to me because the majority of their work is very artistic. It was important to me that this show has its own unique look, style, and made the locations we would be visiting look like a million bucks. After speaking with Through A Glass we realized our visions about what the show could be perfectly aligned. The equipment that they have and will be using on the pilot is the same that is used to film blockbuster Hollywood movies. The show will have an aesthetic that will give a whole new look to amusement parks.
C101: What other parks do you see yourself filming an episode of “For Your Amusement” Do you have any “dream” parks you would like to film in?
Cole: Knoebels will be the pilot. I was able to speak with the Knoebels family early on in the development phase and they were very excited about being a part of this project. For me, it of course would be great to visit the Disney/Universal’s of the world one day, and some Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks would be neat (especially Worlds of Fun) but with the format we have envisioned for the show, it’s really designed for those amusement parks that have a unique and interesting history. Holiday World, Kennywood, Indiana Beach, Adventureland, Beech Bend, Silver Dollar City; that’s just a few obviously, but think about all those parks out there, those hometown parks that you visited as a kid that have those one of a kind rides and attractions that you never forget about. That’s where I want to go.
As far as a “dream” park, I’d love the show to reach a point where we leave the US. I’ve always wanted to do more travelling to parks overseas.
C101: Tell us some more about the gifts for your Kickstarter Campaign – the Coasters, Poster, and Caricatures.
Cole: When we first were discussing the Kickstarter, I knew that I wanted backers to get a copy of the episode, and that’s really the main price point, $30 gets you a copy of the episode and then a little goodie bag in the mail with some stickers and a thank you note. But when you’re trying to fund a TV show, there’s not much more you can do except T-Shirts, or maybe some extra footage. I wanted to see if we could create a few items that would be exclusive to the Kickstarter that had an amusement park theme that both the enthusiast and the casual amusement park visitor could enjoy. The caricatures are straight from a professional amusement park caricature artist. The coasters, block, and the poster were all specifically created for this project by some great artists. For a Kickstarter I can’t go and buy you a ticket to an amusement park as a reward for donating, so coming up with these items I hope bridges the gap.
C101: What is your end goal for “For Your Amusement?”
Cole: Well, let’s fund a pilot first. But the end goal will always be the same, get the show on a network.
C101: What else do you want our readers to know about “For Your Amusement”
Cole: I want your readers to know that this project is something that I want people within the industry, the enthusiasts, the park being showcased, the production company, and any of those casual park visitors to be proud of. This is an opportunity to make a show that treats the amusement park with intelligence, and we’re going out of our way to create something that is unique and different than the current amusement park specials you see on TV. It’s no secret we have to raise a large amount of funds to get the show off the ground, but the thing to remember is that it covers everything, the entire cost of production, from the travel to the post production, plus all the rewards, and the fees that Kickstarter takes when a project is successfully funded. Any amount helps, whether it be a $1 or $5, it all goes right back into making a great show.
C101: You worked as a games operator at Worlds of Fun for a decade, what was your favorite/least favorite game? Any insider tips for Midway-style games?
Cole: Favorite game to operate was always Fool-The-Guesser. I loved building a crowd and guessing ages, weights, and birthday. Least favorite game to operate was the ring toss. Rings flying everywhere, breaking all over the place, scooping them off the floor. On a busy day the ring toss can be a nightmare.
You have to remember that midway games are games of skill, so there are always little things you can do, like get a higher arc on the ball so it falls directly in the can, get a flat spin like a Frisbee when you throw at the ring toss (and always aim for the same bottle), or throw for accuracy, not speed at the Break-A-Plate. Next time you’re at the park, ask for tips, a good operator will share because believe it or not we always love it when people win.
For more information on “For Your Amusement,” or to donate to the project, visit the Kickstarter Page. You can follow Cole on Twitter at @ColeLindbergh.
Can’t wait. He has a great line up for the first shows. Knoebels is the best starting place, Indiana Beach must have a fascinating in depth story too. He hast chosen great parks for the first shows. Eventually he could do a show on the Gravity Group or a defunct park to mix things up once the series is off the ground, also all that goes into a Haunt at the end of the season. I’m really excited about this.
Awesome! I think the “For Your Amusement” project should be revived and/or refunded so it could be an awesome show for the Travel Channel! I can expect similar amusement park related travel shows for some streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and others!