When James Worley paid a visit to Disney World in Florida his portly frame and white beard soon had kids asking: "Are you Santa Claus?"
Mr Worley said he was told Santa was a Disney character
Not wanting to disappoint, Mr Worley, 60, played along with some "ho-ho-hos".
But Disney officials descended, telling him to stop the impersonation or get out of the park. They said they wanted to preserve the magic of Santa.
Mr Worley took off his red hat and red shirt but said: "I look this way 24/7, 365 days a year. This is me."
Even after bowing to the request to alter his appearance, Mr Worley, from Tampa, said children continued to ask if he was Santa.
"How do you tell a little kid, 'No, go away, little kid'," Mr Worley told local television.
He said Disney had told him "Santa was considered a Disney character".
Officials at Disney World's Epcot park said they had had complaints from "several guests who were very upset".
Disney said it had its own Santa at Epcot and Mr Worley was "confusing" the children.
Mr Worley said he had played a jolly elf at charity events for a number of years, while his wife sometimes dressed up as Mrs Claus.
Mr Worley said he still loved Disney and Christmas.