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11-15-07, 03:19 AM #1Corporal
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Happiest Place on Earth... for your ashes?
A Pirate's (After) Life For Me
Speaking of vandalism, there's been a growing list of incidents perpetrated on attractions at Disneyland that are not only illegal but that are increasingly, well... let's just say disturbing.
The big problem isn't graffiti or hot-to-trot teens in a back row, it's park visitors smuggling in the cremated remains of their loved ones and then spreading the ashes inside a favorite attraction. The Haunted Mansion is by far the most popular location for this, but you'd be surprised where else people are dumping cremated remains at Disneyland.
Opened with 999 "happy haunts" - the number is now much higher
Because they have been instructed by the Security and Legal departments to never actually detain a park visitor, most of the perpetrators spreading the ashes are never actually caught however, and they disappear into the park. But when a Haunted Mansion Cast Member sees ashes being spread from a passing Doom Buggy, the attraction is cycled out and shut down for hours at a time while the Custodial department comes in and begins the clean up. The Anaheim Police are also involved in the incident, but there's rarely anything they can do about it either.
Sometimes however the cremated ashes aren't found until the end of the night when the Cast Members close down the rides and walk the tracks looking for lost and found. Just last month that situation occurred when a Cast Member at the Haunted Mansion found several piles and a trail of ashes alongside the ride track. 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. The police identified the substance as human remains, and the custodial crew came in for the clean up.
To respond to this growing problem, Disneyland's custodial department recently had to purchase special vacuums with very sophisticated HEPA filters that can capture the gritty ash of human remains while also capturing the small bone fragments that can also be present after cremation. The Cast Members who work in Attractions know the code words when calling the custodial hotline, and they tell the custodial dispatcher that they need a "HEPA Cleanup" as soon as possible.
Theme park, or Memorial park?
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.
Because those lavish sets are maintained by costumers and maintenance crews that don't come in until Midnight, and with a growing crowd of cranky tourists outside wanting to know when Pirates would reopen, Disneyland management was faced with the decision of reopening the popular ride with ash remaining on the bedspreads, props and antiques in the caverns.
While custodial did a thorough job of cleaning the ash from the rockwork and the areas closest to the passing boats, much of the cremated remains would have to stay there until the set could be dismantled and cleaned completely after the park closed for the night. So after a lengthy downtime, Pirates of the Caribbean was reopened by management with the remains of a very devoted fan still spread through much of the Captains Quarters.
Dead men do leave trails...
It's a Small World is another long, fifteen minute ride that doesn't have a single security camera anywhere. All sorts of illicit things happen inside Small World at the end of the night, and leaving Grandma's remains in there to listen to that catchy song for all eternity is definitely a possibility. Disneyland installed a security camera years ago inside the Snow White ride to catch people trying to steal the apple from the witch's hand, but there are still many popular attractions without any surveillance system where illegal dumping of human ashes is still an option.
The residue is often found at the end of the night however, and most of the people who carry out a last request by spreading a loved one's remains at The Happiest Place On Earth likely don't know the less-than-reverential end they meet at the hands of the ultra-efficient Disneyland Custodial Department.
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