Disney World might be honored that your loved one wants their ashes scattered in its parks, but they definitely don’t want you actually showing up with urns and spreading human remains everywhere. Apparently, the practice is fairly common, and Disney has had enough. “This type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful,” a Disney spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. “Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off the property.”
Disney employees told the Journal that “HEPA cleanup” — code for a situation requiring ash residue cleanup — actually happens about once a month. It causes attractions to shut down and means the park must hand out “Fast Passes” for patrons to go on other rides.
Those who do spread ashes in the parks, however, do so because Disney was a meaningful destination for their loved ones. Jodie Jackson Wells, who spread her mother’s ashes on the platform of It’s a Small World back in 2009, told the Journal, “Anyone who knew my mom knew Disney was her happy place.” Alex Parone, an actor from New York, said that he went on the “It’s a Small World” ride after spreading his mother’s ashes in a Magic Kingdom flower bed. “I was still crying,” he said. “That song is playing over and over again, and there are those happy little animatronic things… I remember thinking, ‘This is weird.’”
Disney employees say that identifying and cleaning up human ashes is a typical part of their job. One Disney custodian said Disney’s Haunted Mansion was a particularly popular place to spread ashes. It “probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” he said.
The park is a widely popular venue for proposals, marriages, and birthdays, but the frequency of ash-spreading incidents is relatively unknown to the general public. It happens so often, however, that employees have even invented a colloquial name for it: Code Grandma.