Cremation ashes at Disneyland -- a dusty epidemic

There's an epidemic of covert (human) ash-scattering at Disneyland, a practice that has spread from the Haunted Mansion to the Pirates of the Caribbean. The scatterers generally get away clean, and the human remains are subsequently cleaned away by special janitors who are charged with keeping the Park in compliance with health rules about containing particulate matter.

Just this past Friday a Cast Member watching the security cameras noticed a woman in the back of a boat throwing a powdery substance into the lavishly decorated sets in the cavern scenes near the beginning of the ride. Even though Pirates is a 15 minute long ride, by the time the lady spreading the substance returned to the loading area Security had yet to arrive.

The college age Cast Members operating the attraction knew that legally they were not supposed to detain anyone, and when they confronted her about what she was doing in the cameras she told them she was only throwing baby powder around. The woman quickly disappeared out the exit, never to be seen again, but she'd actually left more than baby powder all over the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Security and the police finally arrived, and the ride was shut down on a busy afternoon of a holiday weekend. The ash was identified by the Anaheim Police as cremated remains, and the custodial department found most of it all over the "Captain's Quarters" scene in the caverns. The woman had done a very thorough job of spreading the ash everywhere though, and after an hour of cleaning with the HEPA vacuums there was still work to be done.

Link (Thanks, Al!)


  1. What the hell is wrong with people? Whatever empathy I might have for someone who wants to unite the remains of their loved one with something that they enjoyed during their life is more than negated by the sheer idiocy of someone not realizing that an amusement park ride is not like a natural landscape that can absorb the cremains.

    The sad thing is, I can imagine the imagineers coming up with some sort of memorial garden deal that really would preserve the ashes forever, instead of having to vacuum them up like vomit.

  2. What worries me is that now this will be copycatted (sp?) at many different spots in the parks. The water rides could be direly affected. Then again, Small World? One shudders to think of someone wanting their ashes scattered THERE.
    By the way, they are ashes. Ashes ashes ashes. Cremains is the worst euphemism EVER. And while a memorial garden inside the park seems like a good idea, to stop this from happening, it would quickly spiral out of control, believe me.

  3. “Bring me some grog, ye wench!”
    “Gammy, Grandad is talking like a pirate again”
    “Yes Dear, it’s called regression”
    “I think it’s disgusting!”
    “Well, sometimes it’s endearing. Only yesterday he wanted to go to the carnival.”
    “Me bones are cold! I’m telling ye!!!”
    “The poor old fart, Gammy. What can we do?”
    “It won’t be much longer Dear. and I have an idea…”

  4. >By the way, they are ashes. Ashes ashes ashes

    While there are definitely ashes in there, there are also large cinders and usually pieces of bone and other stuff – that’s why they call them “cremains”

  5. Maybe Disney should admit the dead under a “dear departed” park pass instead of forcing grieving people to act like ash-holes.

    Or maybe the EPA should open an Ash-Land amusement park, where you can shake your ash around in the virtual environment of your choice.

  6. I know that there are more than ashes in ashes, I just think that ashes itself is a euphemism enough, and that a Madison Avenue word like cremains is just crude, and not any more respectful than calling them ashes.

  7. I agree that people are being unthoughtful, to put it politely. If people knew that the ashes would force the shutdown of their dearly-departed loved ones, maybe they’d think twice.

    As a card-carrying Disney enthusiast, I’ve thought at times that I would like to be cremated and have my ashes scattered somewhere at Disney World, but I always envisioned it happening outside the theme parks. A little bit here by a favorite bench, a little here by the monorail post, a little here near the beach where I can watch the fireworks, etc.

    But realizing that doing so would create a perceived health problem, I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to mess up another guest’s visit to the resort.

    Heck, if your loved one was a HM enthusiast, get some representative token and bury it with him or her. Same with PotC or any other attraction.

    Interesting topic. I had no idea it was going on to this extent.

  8. I’ve spread my share of ashes and have yet to find anything that couldn’t be crumbled and spread. Stick to nature for the spreading though folks, and complain to the service provider if the cremation wasn’t complete enough to render the ashes inert and harmless. Having the ashes end up in a HEPA filter really doesn’t seem to show the proper respect. I understand that people like a place to visit their dear departed, but cemeteries are really a waste of good land and not a shining example of sustainability.

  9. Also, Logical Extremes, cremation isn’t exactly eco-logical. Search the net for info and look at the cost of death video somewhere around here.
    I think Disney could implement a discrete system for the mourners to address this problem while generating a revenue. Not Mickey canopical jars, mind you.

  10. Any opportunity to fsck with Disney is great. Yeah it might not be completely ethical but it seems to be a fairly harmless prank.

    Aside from increasing particulate matter in the air (this is Anaheim! Nobody will even notice a difference!) are there any significant health hazards associated with ash?

  11. That’s funny, I have a friend who always jokes about wanting her ashes dumped in the Haunted Mansion, but I had no idea that it was something that people actually DID.

  12. OMG, there is such a simple (profitable for Disney) solution:

    Not sure about DL, but at least at WDW there’s a graveyard at the entrance to the Haunted Mansion. On the back side of the graveyard – out of sight of visitors – could be an interment site called “Forever Disney”. Disney could even consider small dispersal services (limited to a max of 10 people) on property. Family wins, Disney wins. Happiest Place After Earth.

  13. #18
    Wow, that would be creepy to me, knowing that as I am in queue for a ride 30 feet away someone is getting interred.

    You know if there is a market for it couldn’t Disney just make licensed urns and headstones for sale? That way they can be a part of Disney that way. Or better yet, for the pin collectors, have the ashes made into a gem and have that crafted into some pins.

  14. I like how nobody has remarked on how totally fucked up this is in the first place. Everyone is willing to wonder about the legal/ health ramifications, and ignore the fact that people are spreading their MORTAL REMAINS around an amusement park owned by a cartoon company. I feel compelled to use more caps.

    DUDE, WTF.

    That’s really what you want to leave to the world? “I like cartoons?”

  15. If they really loved the Disney legacy, these fans would have their heads cryogenically frozen and then have their survivors hide them somewhere in the park.

    Show some respect!

  16. This is quite shocking, and takes Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation to an entirely new level of horror…

  17. Anaheim : Ashes : Particulate Matter….

    hmmm… Disneyland every night at 9:30pm contributes quite a bit of particulate matter and ashes to the local air quality in the form of fireworks remains. Local residents have complained repeatedly to OSHA and the city of Anaheim to little/some avail. The OC Weekly has reported on this over the last 5 years a number of times.

    Saltpeter, mineral particulates, cremains… you choose your poison if you live down wind. But downwind from Disneyland is a really big cemetery… Six to one, half a dozen to another.

  18. OMG, no! How could they?

    OK, I’m a lifelong fan of some Disney movies. But desecration of WallyWorld (oh the humanity) strikes me as 1. bizarre, 2. funny (ha ha). C’mon we’re talking spastic plastic land here. Push aside the spilled cokes and popcorn and condoms and flip-flop dust and suburbanite noir and there’s some superheated dust particles underneath? (Probably the cleanest dust on site!) What a world! What a world!

    (Image of world’s smallest violin removed)

  19. Perhaps the woman was trying to be inconsiderate…didn’t Keith Richards flush his dad’s remains down the toilet?

  20. Are ashed remains biotoxic? Its ash. Isn’t ash sterile. The writer did some great research or used to work at disneyland. I used to work there and i haven’t heard the term “cast member” since highschool. nice post.

  21. “The Anaheim Police and Disneyland Security were summoned, and judging by the large amount of ashes this deposit was likely a small group of deceased people, or perhaps a very large married couple.”

    That is the funniest thing I have read this morning.

  22. They should Hunter S Thompson it. Everybody’s happy. Pack the remains int to the nightly fire works show (for a small fee) and the give the family a special spot to watch and toast with champagne.

  23. I actually had a friend who wanted his ashes scattered in a specific place (not Haunted Mansion) at WDW, and his family did do it. (mid 1990’s) I had no idea it was popular, though.

    They spread them at a rare spot of actual dirt and grass (and not all of his remains). I don’t think it’s any different than spreading them in his favorite meadow. It’s a place where he was happy, and they have happy memories of him there.

  24. Now a one and a two, Everybody SING!
    “It’s an afterworld after all…It’s an afterworld after all…La la la la la la laaaa…”

    I don’t know but, I’d have to choose Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride though Tomorrowland actually seems spiritually appropriate too.
    However I’d hate to find in my next life that wherever I live I’m constantly compelled to visit that mercenary black hole of cash. I’ll stick to my plan.
    I’m having my best friend tape just a tiny bit of ashes er..I mean “cremains” to a sky rocket & make sure part of me get’s to Heaven.
    The rest can be vacuumed up with my beloved Kirby G 4…which of course has a HEPA dust bag. Whatever. It’s all about what happens between lives on this rock

    One’s last wish for their remains should be honored by their loved ones regardless of other’s opinions or for my money even laws. Rules were made to be broken weren’t they.

    *Phlavor-#13. Hysterical. ROFLMAO.

    *WineForNewbies-#9 Clearly that stick up your butt has a stick up it’s butt *[copyright].

    *BloggerNoob-#26 Must be a real imbecile. Next time you have a bad cold see if you can find someplace to roast for 3 hours at 1800 degrees and then let us know if anyone catches anything from you after that. Nitwit FUN FACTS about the last big bake off of life.

  25. Comment #17 from KICKYFAST;

    Chill Out Man…
    There Are Quite A Few More Disgusting Things In Our Environment That Nobody Ever Really Pays Attention Too, Just One Little Tid Bit On Human Remains, Did You Know That The Average Person Has 33 Atoms That Were Once A Part Of Julius Caesar?
    A More Relevant Fact; The U.S. Government Allows Up To Approx. 575 Bug Fragments In An Eight Ounce Jar Of Peanut Butter And It Is Still Considered Safe And clean?

    I Don’t See How It Is So F*cked Up That Someone Would Want Their Ashes (Which Tend To Be Mostly Bone Fragments) Scattered On A Disney Ride, But I Agree With Another BBS Poster, It Should Good Taste, Be Done In A Natural Environment That Can Accept And Dispose Of The Remains, i.e., A Flower Bed, Or An Outdoor Lake Or Pond.

    Comment #26 From BloggerNoob;

    Ashes Are Only Considered Hazardous Because Of A Feeling Of Sentimentality, In Practice How Ever A Temperature Of 1600 to 1800 Degree And A Top Temperature Of 2600 Degrees Renders The Remains Biologically Inert, But, Contrary To Popular Belief, They Are Not All Ash As Portrayed In Movies & Other Media, But Normally A Pile Of Bone Fragments With Small Chunks Of 1/8 Or Smaller.

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