Disney Parks Are Popular Spots for Loves Ones’ Ashes, WSJ Discovers

The happiest places on earth have a somber side, newspaper reports

If you have to lay a loved one to rest, might as well do it at the happiest place on Earth, right?

The Walt Disney Co. theme parks are popular spot for visitors to spread the ashes of deceased family members, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday.

The newspaper spoke to Disneyland and Disney World officials and custodians who said it happens about once a month that they have to go vacuum up ashes somebody has smuggled into the park. Oh, and they have  secret code for it to hide it from guests: “HEPA cleanup.” Though, a former Disney employee told The Journal that she once got in trouble for coining a different term: “Code Grandma.”

It’s such a pervasive phenomenon that former and current Disney employees said identifying and vacuuming human ashes is a signature part of working at one of Disney’s parks.

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

People who have spread the ashes of loved ones at one of Disney’s parks told the newspaper that they just had such fond memories of their time there with whomever had passed, or that the park was their mother or father’s favorite place, so it seemed fitting.

And apparently it’s easy to smuggle the ashes into the park. Some people hid them in a prescription pill bottles or plastic baggies buried at the bottom of backpacks and purses.

Disney has tried hard to erase any reminder or thought of death, banning the phrase “In Memory Of” on personalized commemorative bricks in the park.

A spokesperson for Disney told The Journal of scattering ashes, which is considered a misdemeanor: “This type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful. Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off property.”