Walt Disney sold the theme parks as being the happiest place on Earth. As a result, it should be no surprise that people would want to spend eternity there.
The popular Disney theme parks are every child’s dream rolled into one big, expensive tourist attraction. Getting the chance to interact with your favorite characters and see things such as Cinderella’s castle up-close and personal was definitely a top moment for many.
When you go behind the curtain, you recognize how one person’s dream can be another person’s nightmare. In order to keep the magic alive, Disney crew members use codes to represent various gross things: “Code V” stands for vomit, and “Code U” means urine.
The code for HEPA cleanup is kept way under wraps, though. You expect vomit and urine at a place with fair food, hot temperatures and some wild rides. What you don’t expect is to have to clean up the ashes of someone who just wanted to spend their afterlife at Disney.
Disney custodians say it happens about once a month. A grieving family spreads the cremated ashes of a loved one in the park, and an ultrafine (HEPA) vacuum cleaner sucks them back up.
“Anyone who knew my mom knew Disney was her happy place,” says Jodie Jackson Wells, a business coach who in 2009 smuggled her ashes into Walt Disney World, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Wells spread her mother’s ashes on part of the It’s A Small World ride, as well as spreading them across the lawn of Cinderella’s castle. It’s unknown if her mother’s ashes were later vacuumed up, but custodians are skilled at recognizing human ashes when they see them.
Once ashes are smuggled in—usually in pill bottles or small baggies at the bottom of purses —they’re spread in flower beds, on bushes, outside the park gates and even in some rides such as Pirates Of The Caribbean. Other popular places include the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride and throughout the Haunted Mansion.
According to one Disneyland custodian, there’s probably so many human ashes in the Haunted Mansion that “it’s not even funny.”
Sometimes the custodians don’t notice. But when they do, they shut down the ride due to technical difficulties and send a manager into the ride to clean it up.
Spreading ashes of your loved ones in the happiest place on Earth is strictly prohibited, according to a Disney spokeswoman
“This type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful,” the spokeswoman says. “Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off property.”