The Disturbing Thing Disney World Struggles To Stop Visitors From Doing In The Parks

There is a fairly long list of items that are banned from Disney Parks around the world. Obviously, guests cannot bring glass containers, drug paraphernalia, and folding chairs into the parks. But more surprisingly, plastic straws, selfie sticks, and Heelys (the shoes with a wheel in the heel) are also banned. However, despite seeming like something that goes without saying, visitors to Disneyland and Walt Disney World have also been told they are not allowed to bring human remains onto the premises. And yet, there have been many instances where ashes have been spread in Disney Parks over the years.

Back in 2018, many publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, reported that Disney guests were scattering ashes in rides, flower beds, and other places around the parks. Even though these instances were openly scrutinized, that still didn't stop people from doing it, as the Los Angeles Times reported on an incident the following year. While it may be understandable why many people would want to fulfill their loved one's final wishes to be laid to rest in "The Most Magical Place on Earth," this does cause quite a bit of disruption for cast members and other guests alike.

All That Remains

According to USA Today, custodians from Disney's parks in Anaheim and Orlando are called to clean up human remains at least once a month. When that happens on a ride, cast members are forced to evacuate and close the attraction "due to technical difficulties." Then, they call in a HEPA cleanup, which is a code that means that the staff are required to use an ultra-fine vacuum cleaner to dispose of the ashes. If the person who managed to sneak in the remains is caught in the act, then they are ejected from the property and could face possible legal action.

Yes, technically scattering ashes in most places is illegal unless written permission is obtained by the private property owner or the controlling government agency overseeing the land. The law blog of Wallin & Klarich's Southern California Defense says that "Health and Safety Code Section 7054(a) makes it a misdemeanor to dispose of or deposit any human remains in any place except in a cemetery, or as otherwise authorized by law." Those found guilty of violating these rules could face "up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $500." On top of that, your beloved family member or friend will find their final resting place in a random trash can.

Grim Grinning Ghosts

So where specifically do guests bring ashes to scatter around Disney Parks? Not to encourage or endorse carrying out such illegal and potentially hazardous activity, but the published 2018 report stated that incidents have occurred on It's A Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean, the latter of which allegedly used actual human skeletons on the original Disneyland version of the attraction until Imagineers were able to improve on fake skeleton technology.

However, the most popular ride for the spreading of ashes in a Disney Park is The Haunted Mansion. While the popular attraction boasts 999 happy haunts already, the Walt Disney Company maintains that there is no vacancy for any more haunts. In fact, that's probably why hitchhiking ghosts attempt to follow foolish mortals home after each ride.

In addition to those attractions, guests are also known to spread ashes among the landscaping, flowerbeds, and bodies of water around the parks. One such instance was documented in the heart-warming and heart-wrenching 2019 documentary "Remain Seated Please – A Hoot and Chief Story." Matthew Serrano's film chronicled the friendship of Dave Ensign, aka Hoot Gibson, and Ed Barlow Jr., aka Thunder Chief, two Disney superfans who shared a love for the now-defunct EPCOT ride Horizons. When Chief passed away in 2014 from cancer, Hoot smuggled the remains of his best friend into Magic Kingdom and scattered them in a wooded area near Main Street USA: one final act of theme park delinquency together.