“Whoa! What’s that?!” my kids exclaimed as we drove by the Funspot arcade we’d been visiting for years on our annual trips to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. They’d spotted a maze of ropes, cables, bridges, tires, nets, loops and logs all strung between platforms three stories high. My mom, whom we visit on Lake Winnipesaukee every summer, said she’d been watching the construction of this new Weirs Beach attraction for families over the past few weeks and that Monkey Trunks was scheduled to open July 2. “Not til July?!” wailed my kids, ages 9 and 11. When I told them July was three days away, they grinned… knowing their Mom and Dad would treat them — soon — to this adrenaline-charged adventure.
Before the kids were allowed on the course, they watched a safety video with a dozen other participants — children and adults. Staff made sure they were wearing closed-toe shoes (extra random sneakers are available to borrow, if needed) and they were outfitted with harnesses and helmets. After proving that they understood how to hook and unhook the carabiner to the Smart Belay safety ropes throughout the course, they were let loose on the platforms to climb, swing, balance and zipline. There was no set path — participants can choose wherever they want to go on the course.
This was no easy walk in the park. Check out the determination on their faces! As a spectator, I loved seeing them work hard to conquer challenges and make their way to the next platform.
I couldn’t believe both kids wanted to do the giant swing — where you free fall and then swing from a single rope attached to your harness at your waist. I think I screamed from the sidelines more than they did when they launched themselves off the platform:
Participants 48 inches and taller can complete the entire Monkey Trunks course at Weirs Beach for $49, with no time limit. You can spend the entire day there if you like — but you can’t come and go; once you take the harness off and leave the premises, you’re done. My children were exhausted after two hours on the course. Children under 48 inches pay $39 and stay on the lowest of the three levels of platforms.
While I’d recommend Monkey Trunks to any families visiting the Weirs Beach area of New Hampshire, I do so with a couple of caveats and tips. First, I’d visit as soon as the attraction opens; currently that’s 10 a.m. That way, there will be the fewest number of other participants on the course, which means you won’t have to wait to cross a tightrope or bridge.
Also, when we went, I don’t think there were enough staff members to help the number of kids on the course. I counted six staff for more than 40 participants. When my daughter wanted to do the giant swing, she had to wait several minutes until a staffer could reach her to help her get hooked up to the line, and then she had to wait until another staff member was ready below with a tall ladder to help her off the swinging rope. Later, my son was ready to do the giant swing, and a staffer was called away to help a crying boy get unstuck from another area of the course (he’d panicked when his rope had gotten tangled, and he was suspended above a bridge with his feet unable to touch the bridge below). I was unimpressed with the staff to participant ratio, for sure.
Another tip: If it’s extremely hot and humid, forego Monkey Trunks until the weather cools — or at least until cloud cover rolls in. While there is shade for spectators, the kids on the course don’t get much reprieve from the sun. We visited on a relatively mild day, but still we bought cold water from Funspot next door and gave it to the kids over a chain-link fence that separates spectators from participants.
Monkey Trunks ropes courses are also located in Chocorua, NH, and Saco ME.