Growing up a 90s kid on Cape Cod, arcade culture was very much a part of my childhood. Weekends and summers were spent hunting for quarters so I could bike down to Bass River Sports World in Yarmouth (now, Skull Island) to play a few games of NBA Jam, Lethal Enforcers, or even, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
My love for button smashing carried through until I relocated to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and had my 30th birthday party at a place called Funspot Family Entertainment Center on Weirs Beach, Laconia. Not only did I find pristine versions of the same games I loved as a kid, but this nerd culture mecca also features three floors of fun with over 500 video games, pinball machines, ticket redemption machines; an indoor miniature golf course; 20-lane ten-pin and candlepin bowling; cash bingo; a restaurant; a tavern; and several other attractions on its grounds.
First opened in 1952 as the Weirs Sports Center by 21-year-old Bob Lawton as an indoor miniature golf course and penny arcade, it’s remained an iconic stop for those young and old visiting the area. In 1964 the name was officially changed to Funspot and is now the home to the American Classic Arcade Museum, a separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization located on the arcade's third floor, which seeks to preserve the history of coin-operated arcade games.
Funspot was made famous in the wildly popular 2007 documentary film, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The plot follows “good guy” Steve Wiebe as he tries to take an arcade from the “villain” Billy Mitchell. The main character in this film is the 1981 arcade game “Donkey Kong” which lives on the third floor of the arcade. Some of the most tense scenes take place as both Steve and Billy feverishly compete against each other on this machine while people crowd around the game.
Feeling lucky? Play some bingo in their state of the art Bingo Hall with seating for up to 400 players. You have four chances to play while you are on vacation in the Lakes region; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights at 6:45 p.m., as well as Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Come early and purchase some pull-tab ticket games and have the chance at winning cash prizes worth thousands of dollars. There are local charities that benefit each night of the week.
Someone celebrating a birthday? Like I said, I had my 30th here so trust me they provide a fun and memorable venue for kids of all ages. There is no cost to reserve a space in their party room that fits up to 140 people. You can either bring your own food and decorations or order pizza to be delivered to your table.
No need to leave Funspot for lunch or dinner. Dine in at either D.A. Long Tavern, serving local craft beers and pizza, or family-friendly Braggin’ Dragon for pizza and appetizers.
Funspot has 20 candlepin and ten pin bowling lanes featuring animated automatic scoring and automatic bumpers; they even offer league bowling in both. These lanes are available to the general public during Funspot's regular hours. Look for weekday and early bird specials.
Funspot was officially named the "Largest Arcade in the World" by Guinness World Records at the 10th Annual International Classic Video Game and Pinball Tournament, held from May 29 through June 1, 2008.
The initial start-up amount of $750 was borrowed from Bob Lawson's grandmother. On the first day the center was open it made $36.60 from miniature golf admission and $5.60 from selling soft drinks. A round of 9-hole mini-golf cost 35 cents.
In 1980, Funspot switched from quarters to tokens.
Open every day (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas) 10 AM-10 PM, year-round