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No shirt, no shoes, no kid, no entry

Apparently child-free Lego enthusiasts are not welcome at the Vaughan Legoland Discovery Centre. At least not during normal operating hours. If the child-free crowd is interested in taking in the intricate Toronto skyline fashioned out of Lego, they can only go on designated evenings.

The Legoland Discovery Centre has a strict policy that adults must be accompanied by a child to visit the centre.

It’s unfortunate that, for one 63-year-old Windsor man, that policy isn’t front and center on their website. Oh, it is on the website, buried in a page or two if you happen to go clicking around, but that’s not really useful for most potential visitors. So unaware of the policy, he and his adult daughter made the trip to Legoland to find themselves turned away at the door. And as the story goes, their request to speak to a manager was denied.

So why the policy? In the words of the marketing manager, it’s to “protect the families and children that visit.” Yes, of course. Because all child-free people are automatically suspect, especially if they happen to be in a child-friendly or family-friendly environment.

Someone should tell Disney. All those child-free people roaming their parks is clearly a recipe for disaster.

Not only are the child-free crowd allowed to roam the Disney parks and enjoy the child-friendly and family-friendly activities that abound, they even have marketing directed specifically at them, be it those planning to get hitched, honeymooners, anniversaries, etc. There are all sorts of options for the child-free crowd. And no one bats an eyelash. Want a photo with characters but don’t have kids? No problem, just line up with the rest of the families waiting to rub elbows with Mickey Mouse. Want to take a ride on Peter Pan’s Flight without a child in tow? They’ll gladly ‘sprinkle’ some fairy dust on your head and away you go, no questions asked.

This might come as a surprise to those who make the rules over at Legoland, but just because someone is child-free doesn’t mean they’re a pedophile. And just because someone has a child in tow doesn’t mean they’re not a potential threat. Using the presence (or lack thereof) of a child as a security filter is ridiculous.

What’s curious about this rule is that Lego has a very large adult following, be it due to nostalgia, a burning desire to create complex things, artistic pursuits or any other reason that might spur someone to play with little plastic bricks. There are conventions dedicated to Lego, websites… in fact adult enthusiasts even have their own moniker: AFOL (Adult Fans of Lego). This New York Times article refers to the “legions of adult fans,” while this one from The Independent puts a number to it, noting adults made up about 5 per cent of Lego’s customers in 2011, a number that grows annually.

Interestingly, this article in the National Post about the Vaughan Legoland Discovery Centre speaks specifically about adult fans, noting some spend $500-$1,000 a month on Lego. And just check out the cutline with the top photo with the story, which reads: “At the newly opened Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan, north of Toronto, you’ll still find the odd child or two gawking at the displays of Lego brick cities and other scenes. Mixed in among all the adult fans of Lego (AFOLs), that is.”

But these Lego enthusiasts, if they lack a child, are not welcome at the Discovery Centre except on certain evenings. While some might prefer to go when there are no kids around, that might not be an option for everyone. While I couldn’t find it on the Vaughan site, other Legoland attractions hold adults-only nights once a month. Not useful for tourists.

Given that there are so many adult Lego fans it’s surprising that the Legoland Discovery Centre has decided to ban child-free people from their attraction under some misguided notion related to safety. While the policy itself is shameful, what’s worse is that they aren’t as up front with this policy as they could and should be, instead choosing to bury it on their website.

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