My dn had a build a bear party in May, and my db and sil are still fuming about it. I wasn't there, but apparently the staff were pushing to sell voices, outfits and shoes for the bears which all add on the price. They were telling the children to go and ask them (db and sil) if it was ok to have a voice or something for an extra amount. They spent the whole party trying to explain to every child there that they couldn't have loads of extras, so they couldn't really enjoy the time. Also you only have a choice between 2 bears for £8. To get a full choice of the bears you need about £15 per child! They certainly wouldn't do it again, but if you're very firm about the limit (with yourself and the children) then it might be a success.
Could you just take your DD and, say, 2 of her friends, rather than having an official party? That way you could spend more on each bear, and still go out for tea after? It sounds very expensive to me TBH, and whats the fun of building a bear if you can't dress ite etc? What do you actually do apart from choose it then?
I wonder if it depends which store you go to. I popped into our local one today as I was passing and saw a party in progress. I had a chat with the grandma of the birthday girl and she couldn't praise it highly enough, saying the staff were brilliant and had kept the kids (18 of them!!) entertained with lots of games.
I also had a word with one of the staff and she was saying that they would make sure the guests stuck to whatever budget I set.
I think I will see how things go friends-wise when DD starts Reception and might take Aposotrophe's advice and just invite a couple of girls and do our own party there.