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0 Comments | Oct 24, 2018

Scattering Family Ashes in Disney

(Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)

The Wall Street Journal, in conjunction with multiple families and Disney personnel, has confirmed that people regularly scatter the ashes of loved ones at Disneyland and Disney World. Not only is this not an isolated case, it happens on a monthly basis. Disney employees even have a special code to report when it happens.

The Journal talked to custodians of the parks who have taken part in cleaning up human remains as well as three families who have spread them. The code used in such instances is “HEPA cleanup.” It’s an acronym for a special kind of filter that is used to suck up very fine particles. The Journal writes of this cleanup:

Current and former custodians at Disney parks say identifying and vacuuming up human ashes is a signature and secret part of working at the Happiest Place on Earth. It is grisly work for them, but a cathartic release for the bereaved, who say treating Disney parks as a final resting place is the ultimate tribute to ardent fans.

So where exactly do most of these ashes end up? The details are a little unnerving, but very revealing:

Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they’ve been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts.

“The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” said one Disneyland custodian.

While the desire to enjoy a special place like Disney one last time with a family member is understandable, it’s also strictly prohibited and unlawful. If guests are caught in the act of spreading ashes, they will be escorted off property and refused access to the park. Visitors have become privy to this, so they developed some interesting tactics to sneak their loved ones into the park. Human remains have been smuggled into Disney within prescription pill bottles, makeup compacts, and the occasional Ziploc bag stashed at the bottom of a purse.

For extreme situations like this, Custom Signs are used to notify guests that this type of behavior isn’t acceptable. However, given the delicate nature of spreading ashes, it’s unlikely that Disney wants to broadcast this type of thing to all guests.