Disney theme parks have a serious problem with cremain-scattering

If you ever hear an announcement on a Disneyland or Walt Disney World PA calling for a "HEPA cleanup" it means that someone has just dumped a dead person's ashes in a ride. Again.

Obviously the Haunted Mansion is a prime locale for this, but the lawns, the water rides, the castles, and every other place get their share of cremains. It's cathartic for the ash-scatterers but seriously gross for the custodial staff.

To get ashes past the bag-search, it's best to hide them in pharmaceutical pill bottles or makeup compacts. The "HEPA cleanup" code replaces an unofficial and now banned castmember euphemism: "Code Grandma."

Though ash-scattering is a misdemeanor, it doesn't seem like anyone's ever been arrested for it.

Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they've been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts.

"The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it's not even funny," said one Disneyland custodian.

A Disney spokeswoman said, "this type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful. Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off property."

Disney World's Big Secret: It's a Favorite Spot to Scatter Family Ashes [Erich Schwartzel/WSJ]

(Thanks, Don!)

(Image: Benjamin D. Esham, Laurentius [CC-BY-SA])