'Pay Your Age' Build-A-Bear day shuts down early after unbearable lines

Malls stuffed full of parents, children waiting to make their own teddy bears

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

Customers line up outside the Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Florida Mall on July 12, 2018 for pay your age day. (Photo: Amanda Castro/WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. - Before Build-A-Bear Workshop stores even opened Thursday on their "Pay Your Age" day across Florida, U.S. and Canada they were flooded with parents and children waiting to build their stuffed animals for as little as $1.

The line to get into the shop wrapped around the Macy's department store outside the Florida Mall before the mall even opened its doors.

Amy Wilson, of Merritt Island, arrived at the Florida Mall with her three sons, ages 4, 7 and 11, hoping to pay their ages for the popular stuffed animals.

"I mean that's $22 for three bears, which is great, but I'd rather come on a day and pay $20 a piece and only be here for an hour," Wilson said, adding that she met people who lined up at 8:30 a.m.

Darline Felix got to the Florida Mall just after 7 a.m. with a game plan. She and her children went to the shop the day before and picked out what they wanted. Felix's family got No. 17 in the line and were stuffing bears by 10:15 a.m., she said.

Was it worth the wait?

"Yes," Felix said. "I paid $35 for five bears."

Social media users posted photos of parents with strollers and small children in lines wrapping around the Altamonte Springs Mall food court with no end in sight.

The response to the one-day promotion quickly caused the stores to shut down sales.

"**Urgent Alert: Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional guests at our locations due to crowds and safety concerns. We have closed lines in our U.S. and Canada stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible," Build-A-Bear Workshop posted to its Facebook and Twitter pages.

That message was posted at 11 a.m., about an hour after stores opened in  U.S. malls on the East Coast.

People standing in line at the Altamonte Springs Mall and Florida Mall were given $15 vouchers.

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