Disney theme parks confirm long-running urban legend is true

A statue of Walt Disney stands at the front of Disney World. (Photo: Mira/Alamy Stock Photo)

By Raechal Leone Shewfelt

Some people enjoy Disney World and Disneyland so much that they never leave.

Despite years of denials from the House of Mouse, an urban legend has been confirmed: Human ashes are regularly scattered at the theme parks.

Loved ones of the recently deceased are known to place the remains on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the Dumbo ride, near Cinderella’s castle — pretty much everywhere, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. It happens about once a month, often enough that custodians know to call for a “HEPA cleanup” with a special vacuum cleaner when it does.

The most popular place for people to spread ashes? “The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” an unnamed custodian told the newspaper.

One employee said she and her co-workers got in trouble for referring to such incidents as “Code Grandma.”

For guests, there are consequences for getting caught.

“This type of behaviour is strictly prohibited and unlawful,” a company spokeswoman told the Journal. “Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off property.”

Disney’s Haunted Mansion​ ride is a fixture at all its locations.

The act of spreading ashes without permission is a misdemeanour, according to a spokesman for the Anaheim (California) Police Department.

But there are plenty of people willing to take the risk, if it means their beloved friend or family member can spend eternity with Mickey Mouse and pals. They just hide the ashes in Ziploc bags or pill bottles when they come to the park.

Jodie Jackson Wells went with the latter in 2009 when she brought her mom’s ashes to Disney World, where she sprinkled them on the It’s a Small World ride and in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

“Anyone who knew my mom knew Disney was her happy place,” Wells told the Journal.

When people like Wells do get caught, theme park employees reportedly shut the ride down for “technical difficulties” until any visible ashes are removed.

So that’s what they’re doing…

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