There was a free Paw Patrol tour event in a Walmart parking lot in South Nashville the other day where you could get pictures with a couple of the Paw Patrol pups, play with some Paw Patrol toys which included enough Paw Patrol kinetic sand that even adults could play and not hog it all.
We had pre-registered, had the QR code pulled up, and showed up about 30 minutes before the gates opened foolishly thinking there would not be much of a wait. The line was long, but not terribly so, the sort of thing that looked like we’d be in about 15 minutes after they started letting people in.
Man was I wrong. 30 minutes into this thing they’d let in about 80 people. This was for an area that had 6 or 7 little cars you could ride on a track, 4 tables stocked with Paw Patrol goods, a Paw Patrol command center that included a slide, enough room for 30 kids, and a sea section.
There was also a Rusty Rivets area, the photo line. So enough stuff for 60 kids without any wait if I’m doing the math right. They’d let in 80 people, this was about 25 kids. OK, ramping up, got it.
As time went on it became clear there was no delineation between the people who had preregistered and people who were registering on site. I watched as many a family struggled with the tablets attempting to register themselves. The inexorably slow trickle of people kept going in and the rides were barely forming a line at an hour and a half into the thing being opened.
As I neared the entrance Kim took the kids to a shady spot. I stood in line because that’s how lines in 2017 work still. At an hour and 20 minutes the fire department and EMS showed up as some kid had overheated waiting in line.
A father was explaining to his daughter why the fire department and the EMS were there and I mentioned this seemed like a job that the Paw Patrol was capable of doing.
Hour and 42 minutes we reached the tent, got our paper bracelets, and trod out to wait in the lines that had now formed. Still not bad mind you, but they finally had a family large enough to tip the scales into there being a wait.
I watched as parent after parent escorted their kids onto the Paw Patrol command center, nearly tripped and commented on the bent or mispositioned stair second from the bottom, and realized in horror that their little kid had just gone down a slide and there was no way to get to them except to work their way against a crowd of people coming in because this thing has one adult entrance/exit and two kid exits.
My not-quite 2YO decided this was something she had to do right as a family that had never missed a meal in their life decided to form a four person blockade coming up the stairs. I almost ninja warriored it over the rails or ran back to do the kiddie slide, but she was just standing at the bottom of the slide looking for me or mom and I managed to get down after the family stopped blocking the path.
Kim had taken Maggie over to the line to get her pictures with the Paw Patrollers that were up at that point. This was one of those unnecessary lines that could have been eliminated by just putting them in the actual insanely slow line. It wouldn’t have slowed it down a bit and everyone would have gotten their picture.
Baby Aerin looked red, flustered, and started puffinf her cheeks out. She’d been drinking water and I’d been splashing some on her but this was in a black parking lot and the temp was pretty high. I went over and put her next to a fan that the workers nicely re-pointed to cool her off, then I noticed several other babies were getting cooled afterwards.
They’d been passing out water, I grabbed another bottle or two and downed it and put it on baby and searched for the only shade that was available in the Paw Patrol fenced off confines. They hadn’t thought of shade tents or a cooling station which would have had more than enough space and cost like $80. Seemed an oversight.
We were about to leave and Maggie said this was a very short trip. We mentioned that we’d been in the Paw Patrol event for over an hour, but she considered the hour and 40 something minute wait before getting in somehow the promise of a lot more time doing things. Fortunately there was nothing left to do.
She’d played in the baking sun with some Paw Patrol toys, slid on the slide, ridden the pedal carts once, and got a picture with the pups. There was nothing else to do at nearly 3 hours into this endeavor. At over an hour in the event probably a good 40 of it was standing in the next line to get a photo.
I understood going in the entire tour is a promotion to get you to buy their toys, but man, I think the parents might have been back and shopping had they not been stuck in lines for hours on end.
With a couple of more hours left in the event we left, the lines were short, it would have been much better to get there later.
Someone needed to call the Paw Patrol to build a shade tent, fix the lines, move the photos with the pups outside, maybe create a line for the people who had tickets vs the people who just showed up and had never operated a tablet in their life.
That said, everyone there was nice. Just felt like they were diligently mopping a submarine. $30 bucks for a shade tent and a handwritten sign that said “got a ticket,” “don’t got a ticket” would have been amazing.