The largest arcade in the world marches on

Fun Spot co-owner Dave Lawton shows the classic arcade inside the facility on Monday, May 6, 2024. Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region.

Fun Spot co-owner Dave Lawton shows the classic arcade inside the facility on Monday, May 6, 2024. Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The old classic pinball machines at Fun Spot in Laconia.

The old classic pinball machines at Fun Spot in Laconia. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Jackson Lawrence, 3, plays the old-fashioned Skee Ball with his family at Fun Spot in Laconia on Monday, May 6, 2024. The family came on a Monday so the crowds were not there but owner DaveLawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region.

Jackson Lawrence, 3, plays the old-fashioned Skee Ball with his family at Fun Spot in Laconia on Monday, May 6, 2024. The family came on a Monday so the crowds were not there but owner DaveLawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

A painting of the old ‘Tarlson’s Arcade’ that was at the Weirs Beach Main Street before Bob Lawton moved Fun Spot to Route 3.

A painting of the old ‘Tarlson’s Arcade’ that was at the Weirs Beach Main Street before Bob Lawton moved Fun Spot to Route 3. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Jackson Lawrence, 3, plays the old-fashioned Skee Ball with his family at Fun Spot in Laconia on Monday, May 6, 2024. The family came on a Monday so the crowds were not there but owner Dave Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region.

Jackson Lawrence, 3, plays the old-fashioned Skee Ball with his family at Fun Spot in Laconia on Monday, May 6, 2024. The family came on a Monday so the crowds were not there but owner Dave Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region. GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

Fun Spot co-owner Dave Lawton shows the classic indoor miniature golf course that his father, Bob Lawton built.

Fun Spot co-owner Dave Lawton shows the classic indoor miniature golf course that his father, Bob Lawton built. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The Fun Spot indoor miniature golf course Bob Lawton built with a Hansel and Gretel storybook dolls.

The Fun Spot indoor miniature golf course Bob Lawton built with a Hansel and Gretel storybook dolls. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The old classic arcade machines at Fun Spot in Laconia.

The old classic arcade machines at Fun Spot in Laconia. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The old classic arcade machine Pac-Man at Fun Spot in Laconia.

The old classic arcade machine Pac-Man at Fun Spot in Laconia. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

The old Fun Spot facility when it was called The Weirs Sports Center on Monday, May 6, 2024. Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the facility is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region.

The old Fun Spot facility when it was called The Weirs Sports Center on Monday, May 6, 2024. Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the facility is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Fun Spot co-owner Dave Lawton shows the classic photo booth inside the facility on Monday, May 6, 2024. Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region.

Fun Spot co-owner Dave Lawton shows the classic photo booth inside the facility on Monday, May 6, 2024. Lawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Some of the dolls that kids can get with the tickets they win when playing games.

Some of the dolls that kids can get with the tickets they win when playing games. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Jackson Lawrence, 3, plays the old-fashioned Skee Ball with his family at Fun Spot in Laconia on Monday, May 6, 2024. The family came on a Monday so the crowds were not there but owner DaveLawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region.

Jackson Lawrence, 3, plays the old-fashioned Skee Ball with his family at Fun Spot in Laconia on Monday, May 6, 2024. The family came on a Monday so the crowds were not there but owner DaveLawton says that on a rainy day in the summer, the arcade is full of families that have come to the Lakes Region. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 05-25-2024 9:04 AM

Classic arcade games, pinball, bowling, birthday parties, skee ball, mini golf. You name it, Funspot has it.

Located in Weirs Beach in Laconia, it was recognized as the world’s largest arcade by Guinness World Records in 2008. The 60,000-square foot facility has over 600 games, according to Dave Lawton, one of the owners, including the American Classic Arcade Museum that features nearly 60 pinball machines and roughly 300 various classic arcade games, from Pac-Man to Galaga to Moon Patrol.

The space is as much of a snapshot of the 1980s as it is a family entertainment center that welcomes several hundred thousand visitors every summer. While lots of arcades have pivoted to more digital forms of participation — like using prepaid cards to play games — Funspot still sticks with tokens and tickets that players can redeem for prizes.

“Our older generations of people that come to Funspot demand that we kind of keep with the old school: tokens and tickets,” Lawton said. “A lot of people are getting away from those, but our people love them here.”

Lawton’s father, Bob, opened Funspot back in 1952. The space literally became his home. He lived on the back of the property and loved showing up every day to power all the machines on — an ordeal that Lawton said takes about half an hour. Bob passed away in 2021 at the age of 90, so Lawton, his sister Sandra and two cousins, Steve and Randy, took on expanded roles in the business to keep Bob’s vision alive.

Bob was famous for handing out free tokens to families in the arcade as well as distributing his business card that doubled as a gift card for tokens. He also came up with the idea of allowing families to host free birthday parties; to this day, families can come in, have a table in the birthday party room for a couple hours, bring their own food and decorations and then spend as much time and money as they want at the arcade, or bowling or doing any of the other number of activities available.

“One of the things he always emphasized was, it’s affordable family fun. We don’t have a gate fee to get in. You don’t have a parking fee to park here,” Lawton said. “My dad’s underlying thing, and what we’re still trying to do today is to keep everything as affordable as possible for families, and that’s what our main business is here. We always know that. It’s families with young kids particularly that really are having a great time at Funspot.”

The business certainly induces a feeling of nostalgia for a certain generation — and Lawton wants to keep it that way — but Funspot continues to look for ways to keep things fresh and to provide new games for people to play. Recently, they added MarioKart driving games as well as a few new pinball machines. Whether you’re someone who grew up determined to beat the high score on Donkey Kong, want a fun place for your kids to play in the summer or both, Funspot is the place to be.

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“Like my dad, I enjoy having a position that really the goal is to just make sure that when our guests come in and visit us here, they’re having a good time,” Lawton said. “And if there are things we can do to make sure that that happens, we can turn their day around.”