Last July, Ramon Aponte Jr., his wife, and two daughters traveled from New Jersey down to Orlando, Florida, ready to enjoy some time at The Most Magical Place on Earth. The family was looking forward to their vacation, as not long ago, Mr. Aponte had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Mr. Aponte Jr. had undergone brain surgery to remove the tumor, as well as multiple rounds of chemotherapy. The Disney World vacation was meant to help the family create wonderful lifelong memories, but it sadly didn’t turn out that way.
On July 8, Mr. Aponte Jr. and his family headed to Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While there, they decided to get in line for the very popular attraction, Toy Story Mania. There, Mr. Aponte Jr. noticed two teenagers trying to enter the Lightning Lane — which can only be done with a reservation. A Disney Cast Member informed the teens that they could not enter the Lightning Lane, and that they had to wait in the regular standby queue. Mr. Aponte Jr. and his family entered the Lightning Lane, as they had their reservation.
According to Mr. Aponte Jr., while his family was waiting in the Lightning Lane, the two teenagers who tried to get into the Lightning Lane, jumped from the standby queue into the Lightning Lane. Hitting Mr. Aponte’s oldest daughter. The family didn’t say anything and decided to avoid the trouble-making teens. However, the teens then knocked over the 3-D glasses display and, as Mr. Aponte Jr. picked up the glasses, he told the teens they had committed an “a-hole move”. The teens shot back, but Mr. Aponte Jr. ignored them.
Both parties got into their respective aisles to ride the attraction, but the teens continued to make threats. After multiple threats, Mr. Aponte Jr. approached the teens and told them that their behavior was unacceptable. A fellow Guest told Mr. Aponte and the teens that they were both behaving in a poor manner. One of the teens then threatened Mr. Aponte Jr.’s daughter and shoved Mr. Aponte Jr., who shoved him back. The teen then repeatedly punched Mr. Aponte Jr. in the head as the man called for security.
The teens ran off, but Mr. Aponte Jr. managed to track them down and bring security with him. Mr. Aponte Jr., his wife, and his children all told security what happened. Unfortunately, Mr. Aponte Jr. was told that because the teens were 18 and 17 — with 17 being “underage” — they had to arrest Mr. Aponte Jr. for assaulting a minor.
Both Mr. Aponte Jr. and the teens were given trespassing notices from Disney, meaning that they were banned from visiting any Disney theme park in the future.
After looking into the matter, Florida Assistant State Attorney Alicia Modeen determined that the case was “not suitable for prosecution” and all charges have been dropped against Mr. Aponte. Mr. Aponte — who is also a disabled veteran and served multiple tours of duty in Iraq — is appealing his ban from Disney, with letters from his doctor confirming his diagnosis.
Disney has not commented on the case, but they have been known to overturn theme park bans in certain cases.