Hundreds of Calgarians got up early on Thursday to head out to Chinook Centre’s Build-A-Bear Workshop for an event that allowed them to pay a fraction of the cost of a stuffed toy but the lineups were grizzly.

Build-A-Bear Workshop allows children the chance to get in on the action of choosing their new stuffed animal, picking out clothes and filling it with stuffing and a healthy helping of love.

Unfortunately, a special event that the company announced earlier this week, that allowed recipients to pay their age as the cost for their toy, has left parents in Calgary filled with a lot of something else instead.

“We got here at 10:00 a.m., we just waited over two hours with a two-year-old and they told us we would get in at about 4:00 p.m. right now. That’s six hours waiting for a bear, that’s ridiculous. They should have been more organized. They were not ready for these crowds,” one woman said about the Pay-Your-Age event.

She took her two-year-old and a $15 voucher for a future purchase and went home, but a lot of die-hards say they had committed themselves to the cause.

“We have been here for three and half hours,” said dad Tristan Cuthill. “The mall should have known about it, promoted it and made it easier. Guest Services had to be shut down because people were lined up in front of it. It’s crazy how much people want a bear.”

Cuthill says that while he would have rather paid the full price, the fact that his daughter would be going home happy is enough.

A pair of moms at Chinook Centre says their kids were also the reason they weren’t giving up.

“We got here at 9:00 a.m. The stairway was completely packed going up and down both ways and now we’re up here and we’ve been up here forever,” said Courtney Merritt.

Sidney Truax says both of them have three-year-olds who want to have Paw Patrol characters from the store.

“We’ve been hyping this up to them for three days now, telling them that they are going to come. When we got here and [saw the lineup] we gave them every other option, [but] they weren’t having any of it.”

Truax says they estimated a two-hour wait in line before getting to the front, but once they reached that limit and saw they were still far from their goal, it was difficult for them to turn tail and run.

“Is it worth it? No, probably not, but will it be worth it when they get Skye and Chase and we go home with them, maybe?”

It wasn’t just the locations in Calgary that had insufferably long lineups at Build-A-Bear locations on Thursday. Hundreds of locations across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. had similar lineups and similar complaints from parents.

The company, based in St. Louis, ended up closing down lineups at all of their stores just hours after the event began, citing ‘crowd and safety concerns’.

Many took to social media to vent their anger when the deal was nixed, calling the event a “madhouse” and complaining of being offered only vouchers for discounts, not the pay-your-age promotion.

Build-A-Bear later issued a statement:

Build-A-Bear Workshop’s Pay Your Age Day event generated an overwhelming response, resulting in long lines, extensive waits and disappointed Guests. We feel it is important to share that, based on the information available to us before the day began, we could not have predicted this reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event. We understand that many Guests were turned away as, due to safety concerns created by the crowds, authorities in certain locations closed Build-A-Bear stores and, in other locations, we were forced to limit the line. Unfortunately, given these circumstances, we were unable to serve all of our Guests for the Pay Your Age Day event.

It further promised a $15 voucher for all of its Build-A-Bear Bonus Club members who log into their account by July 15. The gift certificate is valid until the end of August.

(With files from Jordan Kanygin and