St. Augustine resident David Swindler and his family are huge Disney fans — in fact, his wife goes by Tinkerbell and she calls him Grumpy, he says.
But a recent goof got his room at a Disney resort raided in the middle of the night, his family booted from the hotel and even a lifetime ban, he says. Now he’s taking his story to social media with the hopes of rebuilding his relationship with Disney.
“My first and foremost love is Jesus Christ, then my family and then Disney,”
He and his family were staying at the Pop Century resort over the Labor Day weekend and though he had only booked a two-night stay, he was hoping he could extend his family’s visit.
He told First Coast News that when he grew impatient with an employee, or cast member as they’re called, he joked that he could build a meth lab in his room by the time he could finally get some service. As you might imagine, his joke didn’t go over well.
“I accept responsibility for saying that, don’t know where it came from,” said Swindler. “Don’t know why I said meth lab, I should have said, ‘I was going to build an atomic bomb,’ or something else. I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.”
Little did he know the “goof” that he thought was innocuous would trigger a middle-of-the-night raid by Orange County Sheriff’s deputies and Disney security.
Even after finding nothing, authorities evicted Swindler from the resort.
“It was a figure of speech. I wish I could take it back,” he said in retrospect.
And he has been issued a trespass warning for all of Disney’s properties, so he’s banned indefinitely. “It is for life,” said Swindler.
His children and wife Shelley can visit the parks and the resorts, but not him.
“It has been all consuming,” said Shelley Swindler.
Shelley said it has taken an emotional toll on the family.
“David has been beating himself up about it as if he had done something that warranted any of this,” she said.
Swindler said he was told to file an appeal with Disney’s security. A spokesperson told On Your Side they will review the complaint and respond. On Your Side also told Swindler he needs to file the appeal.
“This has not taken away my love for Disney,” he said. “I will not let them take that away.”
Swindler wants his rights to the park restored. But he has to wait to see how Disney responds to a joke gone bad.
Photo credit: Ken Amaro