Legoland dream dies for man, 63, over rule that adults must be accompanied by kids
Published Monday, July 8, 2013 2:54PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:34PM EDT
A 63-year-old man who travelled from Windsor, Ont. to Toronto to fulfil a lifelong dream of visiting a Legoland Discovery Centre, feels discriminated against and embarrassed after being turned away because he didn't have a child with him.
John St-Onge has been a self-described "Lego fanatic" ever since his children were young and he first began buying them sets, ranging from miniature cities and farmscapes to models of the Star Wars Millenium Falcon.
Once his kids grew older and found other interests, John stuck with Lego, breaking down and rebuilding their sets, and buying new ones to add to his own collection. He now has around 75 sets, comprising about 50,000 pieces of Lego.
"It's a Lego house," he joked in an interview with CTVNews.ca, explaining that he spends his winters indoors due to health problems, and keeps busy working on Lego projects. John has diabetes, cancer and recently had heart surgery.
His dream has always been to visit the flagship Legoland location in Denmark, but due to his health problems, that has become unrealistic.
As a result, John was excited when he picked up a flyer for the Vaughan Mills Legoland Discovery Centre at an Ontario tourism centre, and learned that there was a location much closer to home.
John and his daughter, Nicole St-Onge, saved up, planned the trip and made the three-hour drive, only to be turned away at the door because of a rule, unbeknownst to them, that adults must be accompanied by a child in order to get in.
"They wouldn't let us go in and so we asked to see a manager," Nicole said. "Five minutes later the employee came back and said the manager was too busy to see us, but that was their policy, they weren't allowed in without a child and there was nothing they could do about it."
As a result, they turned around and headed back to Windsor.
"I was crushed. My dad is 63 years old, he was devastated. The look on his face was like a child not getting the gift at Christmas that they want. He felt discriminated against because he's a senior citizen who also happens to like Lego," Nicole said.
When the pair asked where the rule was posted, they were told it was listed on the attraction’s website. The rule can be found there by clicking on the "Book Online" tab, then "More Information."
John, a retired custodian from a steel plant in Windsor, is not Internet savvy and never thought to check the Web.
"It made me feel awful. I felt discriminated against. I thought what the heck is the reason for this? If they gave me a reason maybe I could understand but they gave me no reason," he said.
John added that all he really wanted to do was take photographs of a Toronto skyline exhibit at the centre, in hopes of building something similar.
He said he didn't intend to build anything in the interactive section of the discovery centre, or go on any of the rides, which are geared toward kids.
Lara Hannaford, marketing manager at the Vaughan Mills Legoland, said it is unfortunate that John left disappointed and wasn't able to speak with a manager.
Ideally, Hannaford said she would have met John at the door and brought him through the centre as her guest.
However, she defended the policy that requires adults to be accompanied by children, saying "it is a child attraction so we do have this in place to protect the families and children that visit."
Hannaford pointed out that Legoland does have adults-only nights once a month, for grown-up fans of the iconic building blocks. She also said the rules are posted at the location, and are in fact on the flyer as well.