ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (NYTIMES) – When he got down on one knee on a stage in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, he hoped it would be the perfect moment, in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Instead, those dreams were dashed by a Disneyland Paris employee wearing a polo shirt and Mickey Mouse ears attached to a headband.
“My mind was empty,” said Mr Ante, who spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his given name to maintain his privacy and that of his now-fiancee.
Just moments after Mr Ante had removed the engagement ring from his pocket, the employee darted onto the stage, snatched it and directed the couple down the stairs, where, according to video of the event posted to Reddit last week, he suggested that they could continue their proposal.
In a daze, Mr Ante told the employee, “she said yes”.
The man responded: “Yes, that’s great, but over here, it’s going to be even better.”
The episode, which took place on May 21 and has now been viewed by thousands online, has stoked anger at Disney and the employee for the ruinous act, while many others have rallied in support of the couple.
“He knows that the moment will not be better at the spot he’s pointing to,” one Reddit user wrote of the employee. Others implied the man had enjoyed stealing the couples’ special moment.
In a statement issued by Disney headquarters in California, the company said it regretted how the situation had been handled.
“We have offered our sincere apologies to the couple concerned and we will do everything we can to make this up to them,” it said.
Representatives at Disneyland Paris did not reply on Tuesday (June 7) to emailed questions, including whether the employee had been disciplined or why the couple was told to leave the stage.
In a phone interview on Monday, Mr Ante, 31, who lives near Stuttgart, Germany, and works in IT, said he and his fiancee, 26, were perplexed and saddened after his proposal was waylaid.
“Disneyland stands for dreams,” he said. “Our moment was destroyed.”
He said that he had been planning the proposal since Christmas, when his fiancee gave him the tickets to Disneyland. In the four years they have been together, Mr Ante added, the magic of Disney has played an important role in their relationship.
Early on in their relationship, he said, he gave her a rose in a glass dome, similar to the enchanted rose in “Beauty and the Beast”.
They have watched nearly every one of Disney’s films, he said, adding that he had agonised for months over exactly where, how and when to propose.
By the time they got to the theme park, Mr Ante said, he felt he could no longer wait until the fireworks show in the evening. “I was too excited,” he said.
Before climbing up to the stage, he said, he whispered into an employee’s ear, asking her for permission.
Disney did not immediately answer questions about whether that was the case, or whether the employee who shunted them off the stage had faced disciplinary action.
In the aftermath of his marred plan, Mr Ante said, he and his fiancee were not even sure if she had said yes. He said they had settled on a nearby bench, where he put the ring on her finger, and together, they quietly watched the clip of the proposal on his phone (which he had initially handed to a stranger to film with).
“She was at the same time very happy and sad,” said Mr Ante, adding that Disney had since contacted him by phone and e-mail to offer the couple a free weekend in a Disneyland park and hotel of their choosing.
But he said that while he appreciated the apology, he and his fiancee had refused the offer.
“I don’t want to visit Disneyland anymore,” he said. “They can’t give us the moment back, and that’s the only thing I want – to get a second chance.”