PARENTS and children have been left disappointed after finding queues of over two hours to take advantage of a promotion to get a new fluffy friend.

Build-a-Bear Workshop, which has branches all over the country including one in Festival Place, has seen a huge amount of interest in the company’s ‘Pay your age day’ promotion, which started today.

The scheme allows youngsters and their parents who arrive today to pay the amount equivalent to their age, as opposed to a regular price.

However, many eager shoppers were left disappointed after discovering that the queue to get inside the shop was two hours long when they arrived.

Then, at about 10:30am this morning, the store announced that it was closing for the day after they had served the people in the queue, which was then closed.

At one point, it was reported that the queue of hundreds of shoppers snaked all the way back through the shops and to the bus station.

Those who arrived after the queue closed were given a voucher, which is valid for money off another bear.

Melissa Gardener, who was turned away after the queue closed, said: “We’re very disappointed, my three-year-old daughter was so disappointed, and they really should have expected it to be popular. It is a good idea, but they could have done it much better.

“It was not brilliant, and I have to walk past the shop most days, and this is not how I wanted it to go. The bear was supposed to be a treat for my daughter after some recent blood tests, but now we’ve had to give up on the whole idea.

“The queue was ridiculous, and it was meant to be a fun outing and a good experience, but now lots of people will miss out.”

One frustrated parent said: “I arrived at nine o’clock and we’ve only now got out. It took a lot longer than I thought to get there, it seems like the store didn’t prepare for this at all, if they are worried they will run out of bears.”

At the back of the queue, people were told that the store was closing in order to avoid any disappointment, and that there was an ‘unprecedented number’ of people who had come to the shop, so they had to close it.

A post on the Build-a-Bear Workshop Facebook page said: “The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our U.K. locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history.

“The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.

“We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible.”

A statement on the company’s website reads: “Thank you for the unprecedented response over the last 24 hours to our Pay Your Age Day event!

“As a result, we want to let you know that we are anticipating the potential of long lines and wait times. We will make every effort to help as many guests as possible participate in this first-time event.

“Our goal is to provide positive experiences at Build-A-Bear. We sincerely appreciate the incredible interest and heartfelt excitement and want to thank everyone in advance for your patience.”