Monday, September 27, 2010

The Lego KidsFest, Part 2: The Event

I appreciate that the folks that run the LEGO KidsFest in Boston gave tickets to my family so that we could attend the event. I have also heard that LEGOLand in California is a fantastic theme park for children. And, as I wrote about in advance of the KidsFest, I think LEGO itself is a fantastic toy for children.

The LEGO KidsFest did have great big LEGO sculptures.
It did have models of local landmarks.
And, yes, there were some LEGOs to play with.
That being said, as multiple commenters to my original blog post have already noted, the LEGO KidsFest in Boston was, quite simply, a disappointment. I remain perplexed, in fact, at how poorly it was run, considering the reputation of LEGO itself. There were thousands of people, barely any LEGO, many advertisers, long lines for everything from a stroller drop off to buying water. It was loud, chaotic, and, even for my own children, boring as they couldn't get close enough to the LEGO tables.
It took over 45 minutes for us to find a person who worked for LEGO KidsFest and could actually answer our questions. She admitted to me that as bad as it was at the afternoon session on Saturday, it was far worse Saturday morning. She also noted that most of the people working at the event were temps that had just been hired!

I had hoped to report on all aspects of the show, but even with my mother's help, it was almost impossible to keep track of my two little boys amongst the throngs of people. The limited LEGO also meant it was a free-for-all at each corner, as kids (and some parents) tried to grab for the blocks. We couldn't even get near the LEGO store as the line wrapped down and back.
The only salvation was the DUPLO corner, where my sons were able to play in relative peace.
That is until a contest began and the loudspeaker was so loud that both my kids started crying and visitors grabbed their heads. Again, I hoped to walk the floor, but I literally couldn't as it was so packed.

And we were lucky: we had brought snacks, while others spent over 30 minutes in line to get something to eat. We also had the ability to leave after an hour, as we hadn't spent the $15 per child to get in!

Needless to say, it is hard for me to even provide constructive criticism here. To make this better would require a space that is 4 to 6 times larger, for the event to have far more trained workers, and hundreds more LEGOs.

Feel free to dissent here. Share other voices of your experience at the show, what they could do to make it better, if you think other parents should go. I will share as many comments as come this way.


  1. No dissent from me. You described the situation very well. I'll just add our disappointment after making the effort to get all those 'passport stamps' and finding out there was NO PRIZE at the end. For that much work, they should have had at least some kind of giveaway for completing the passport. No, I'm not willing to count the tattoos they scrounged up from the Boston Duck Tour booth. In hindsight I should have realized that the passport thing was just a gimmick they sold to the sponsors, as a way to ensure they would get visitors to their booths.

    The event was overcrowded and poorly run.

  2. I can answer one of your questions. Why was the event so poorly organized, because it was Life Marketing & Events not LEGO.


  3. I completely agree! After spending an hour in the car to get there and then the kids having to push there way to a Lego table with hardly any Legos to play with once they got close enough was only half of the disappointment. The fact that they had activities at an additional cost really tore me up. We did not even stay an hour, it was choatic and terribly could not take your eye off your child for a minute or they would have disappeared in a sea of people.
    You know its bad when you ask the kids if they want to leave and they say YES!

  4. Between these comments and those on my original post, what has become clear to me is not only the disappointment of parents, but of children. I also think that Jonathan must have a point about LEGO not organizing this. In fact, I am starting to wonder if LEGO knows about this event and has actually observed one in action.

  5. I agree with everyone. It was very disappointing for all the reasons mentioned above - chaotic, understaffed, heavy on sponsors unrelated to event (skydiving?!), and so unbelievable crowded that it was nearly impossible to enjoy what little lego content that was there.
    I was even more aggravated when I read on another blog (brickatino) that some of the early Saturday morning attendees received an "exclusive" minifig for completing the passport sheet. Grr!

  6. My family attended the Sunday second session and was very disappointed with the whole Lego Kidsfest experience. Poorly organized! I've noticed the Lego Kidsfest Facebook page have been deleting negative reviews of the Boston event.

  7. I'm here to add my two cents--our experience was every bit as aggravating as everyone else who commented here. I have sent the following letter to everyone affiliated with the event that I could find. Hopefully it will go somewhere and help make this a better event (not that I plan to give it a second try!).

    I wanted to inform you of our experience at the recent Lego Kidsfest in Boston (9/26). Let me preface this note by saying that this is actually the first "complaint" letter I have ever written. While I would, of course, love to have our money back (what a terrible waste of money during a pretty tight time), my primary reason for sending this to you is to give you an opportunity to make the Lego Kidsfest better. Lego is a terrific brand that encourages so many wonderful things for kids (not the least of which are creativity and imagination). My children are Lego fanatics and couldn't wait for the heavily advertised Lego Kidsfest. This event fell miles short of what we expect from Lego and that's too bad--it had the potential to be an exciting family experience.

    We went Sunday morning in Boston (to the tune of $100 for our family!) and it was ridiculously overpriced for what we got. I expected it to be crowded, of course, but I also expected that for the ticket price there would be more to do and/or that it would be better organized. We did everything right--got there early, got tickets for the early Sunday morning time slot, I even prepped the kids that there would probably be lines and a lot of excited people....nothing could have prepared me for the reality. This "kidsfest" was perhaps the least kid-friendly event I have been to with children.

    Every activity had HUGE lines. You even had to wait in a long line to get your "passport" stamped at each of the stations--insane since the "surprise" at the end was your choice of a sticker or a silly band!! That was a surprise alright--I wasn't expecting a lego set obviously, but a sticker (for Duck Tours!, not even a Lego sticker)?? After waiting in lines for 8+ stamps with three excited kids? Most activities had an extra fee (and hour long lines) and the food available included $7 hot dogs. The "scenic" train tour was a tiny circle in the back of the convention center--the only scenery being the line of aggravated parents and kids on one side and the wall on the other. Remember that this is after spending over $100 just to get in.

  8. My oldest (7) is a HUGE Lego nut and he was so disappointed. Other than some (admittedly very cool) life-sized lego creations (he loved the Star Wars things), there really wasn't an opportunity for him to do much. Yes, there were activities there but the lines were so long that even the most die-hard lego fan couldn't outlast them. He wanted so badly to participate in the mural, but the line was extremely long and though he tried as hard as he could, he just couldn't wait it out. If you are going to charge that much for tickets, you should either restrict the number of people going in so people can actually enjoy themselves (so chop up entry into 45 minute blocks with a much smaller number of people), or decrease the number of "sales" booths (a HUGE chunk of the floor was taken up with a Honda display--full of minivans, of course! There were also a number of sponsor booths that weren't even staffed) and increase the number of lego activities. Even the store had an hour long line to get in!!! That's right--you could wait a full hour (or more) for the privilege of giving MORE money to Lego! Needless to say, we didn't bother. The conference center was filled to capacity with cranky parents and melting down kids...not a pleasant sight.

    In the end, we didn't spend a very long time at the event and salvaged our morning by wandering nearby Newbury Street. You know a kid's event is bad if your 4 year old would rather go shopping than stay there! I think a conversation I had in the bathroom on our way out sums it up--one woman commented that it was ironic that the only place with no line was the ladies' room. I laughed and agreed, saying, "AND it was the most pleasant part of our trip!" That's for sure!

    I have read a number of online reviews from other families who were as disappointed as we were with the event. Many people have stated that they went straight from the event to a local mall to buy their child a Lego set as a "consolation prize." We actually did that ourselves. However, this left me feeling a little manipulated, to tell you the truth. Lego put on an event that built up excitement in these kids (most of them quite young) to spend half a day playing with Legos, enjoying Legos up close, and maybe even earning a Lego-related item through the passport program. Instead they were met with insanely long lines, advertising for things they don't care about at all, and no real chance to get their hands on Lego stuff. Was this event designed to be nothing but a commercial--a "look but don't touch" tease to make certain that we all left with children crying to have a chance to play with Legos? That's how it felt in the end and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    Please let me know if you have any questions; I would love to hear back from you.

  9. One more comment from me! I am the anonymous who posted the ridiculously long letter (in 2 parts) above. I thought I would give you an update. I JUST got an email from Michelle DiLuzio from the Lego Kidsfest informing me that we would be getting our money back! I am feeling much better now--maybe they will be changing the event for future locations.

  10. "Between these comments and those on my original post, what has become clear to me is not only the disappointment of parents, but of children. I also think that Jonathan must have a point about LEGO not organizing this. In fact, I am starting to wonder if LEGO knows about this event and has actually observed one in action."

    Although this was put on by a third party marketing company (Life Marketing & Events), Lego had to know about the event b/c the receipts from the store were Lego Store receipts (a friend told me this).

    I have complained to both Life Marketing & Events AND the Lego Group in Connecticut via e-mail/phone and snail mail. I just want them to improve the event so parents and children in Chicago, NY and others won't be disappointed.

    So if you were disappointed, please voice your opinions to these companies, that is the only way that it will be improved in the future.

    I'm glad there are blogs like this one to get the word out!

  11. Try a real LEGO fan event - no disappointments