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Build-A-Bear makes changes to 'Pay Your Age' promotion after last year's chaos

Build-A-Bear was forced to shut down its "Pay Your Age" event early last year after it received overwhelming crowds at its stores.
Build-A-Bear Workshop
Want to "pay your age"? You'll have to enter a sweepstakes.John Lamparski / WireImage
/ Source: TODAY

Build-A-Bear's "Pay Your Age" promotion, which brought in overwhelming crowds and led to much angst and disappointment among customers last year, is coming back — with a catch.

In order to participate, you must enter a sweepstakes by June 16 for the chance to win one of around 200,000 "Pay Your Age" tickets, which can be used during one of two redemption periods between June 24 and June 28. Each ticket is valid for one stuffed animal per child present, with a maximum of two stuffed animals per ticket.

Last July, Build-A-Bear shut down its "Pay Your Age Day" event early due to large turnouts that it said caused "crowd safety concerns." Customers who were turned away from stores were given Build-A-Bear vouchers.

"I am sorry that we were not able to provide the service that we wanted," Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John told TODAY in an exclusive interview a day later.

She also said, "There was no way for us to have estimated the kind of impact, those kind of crowds. It far surpassed anything we ever could've known."

In an FAQ on its website, Build-A-Bear explains why it has made changes to its "Pay Your Age" promotion.

"We have implemented a process to make this a ticketed event to ensure the best Guest experience," the FAQ states. "The new sweepstakes gives Bonus Club Members the chance to win a birthday party experience, and the new ticket offer gives Bonus Club Members the chance to receive a ticket for select days during our five-day event."

As part of the campaign, a "Count Your Candles Sweepstakes" grand prize will grant 10 guests a birthday party experience at Build-A-Bear valued up to $250.