Disney has something of a cult following, so itshouldn't be much of a surprise that some peoplewant to stay in the entertainment giant's themeparks... forever.
As a report in the Wall Street Journal has justconfirmed, some people really try to do that - byhaving loved ones scatter their cremains.
At Disneyland park in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida, ithappens so frequently that staff have a special code to call in when they spot any sign ofcremains: "HEPA cleanup."
Staff then come in with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)filter, specifically designed for picking up the very finest particles, and vacuum up the remains,possibly for disposal into a garbage bin.
"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 themoat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride," the WSJ's reports.
"Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they've been dispersedthroughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full ofimaginary ghosts."
Human cremains are not actually ashes in the typical sense. During the cremation process, softtissue vaporizes under the extreme heat; all that's left is calcined bone, which the crematoriumcrushes into a powder.
Because of that extreme heat, any micro-organisms in the body are also burned away; there'sno public health risk associated with cremains. But that doesn't mean Disney wants themscattered around their parks.
"This type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful," a Disney spokesperson told theWSJ. "Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off property."
In fact, in most of the United States, scattering cremains on private property withoutpermission is considered a misdemeanor, and can incur a penalty such as a fine orcommunity service.
This includes amusement parks, museums, and sports stadiums, as one man found out to hisdetriment when he dumped his mother's cremains on a sports field in 2005. Although it isworth noting that he was arrested and charged with defiant trespass, not reckless mum-scattering.
But there are also places where it is legal to scatter cremains in the US. National parks areallowed, if the bereaved have the relevant permit, and make sure to scatter away from high-traffic areas, such as hiking trails and playgrounds.
The sea is also permitted, but only at a distance of at least three nautical miles from land,according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
Similar laws exist in Australia and in the United Kingdom, where it is lawful to scatter cremainson public or private land, provided you have the relevant permission from the landowner, localparks authority, or government environmental agency.
It's worth noting that the phosphates in the calcined bone dust are a natural fertilizer - in fact,animal bone is sometimes used this way - which can have an environmental impact bystimulating plant growth.
On the other hand, human cremains can have a high salt content, and also have high pH, whichcan be toxic to certain plants. In 2008, the Jane Austen's House Museum in England bannedpeople from scattering cremains in the garden of the beloved author's former home, noting,among other reasons, that doing so "is of no benefit to the garden!"
And while there are products that help you convert your loved one's cremains into a beautifulplant, you can't just go putting them anywhere willy-nilly either; as the Bront? Society noted in2013, the impact of mourners planting memorial plants on the moors had been destroying thelocal ecosystems.
If nothing else, it's also just terribly impolite to leave your loved one's powdered bones wheresomeone else might have to clean them up.
And do you really want them to end up in a dustbin?