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Scattering Human Remains and 5 Other Things You Can’t Do at Disneyland

Tomorrow, tomorrow, and Tomorrowland.

Disney is famous for its meticulously cultivated “cradle to grave” business model. Though the House of Mouse probably wishes its devotees wouldn’t take the “grave” part quite so literally. Stories of people scattering their loved one’s ashes have been shunted off as urban legends or, at most, anecdotal. But a recent report from the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the scattering of human remains inside Disney parks is a regular occurrence. Custodians who have worked at Disneyland and Disney World stated that just as vomit and urine have their own codes (“code v” and “code u,” respectively) ashes are described as a “code HEPA,” in reference to the special, ultrafine vacuum that’s required for the macabre task.

How often is a “code HEPA” called in? At least once a month, according to the custodians. But the Wall Street Journal story also included interviews with a number of people that described their experiences of sneaking their loved one’s ashes in, concealed in everything from pill bottles to camera bags. Each of the interviewees was certain they hadn’t been noticed by any of the park’s “cast members.” So if you suspect you’ve been Big Lebowski-ed mid-twirl on the teacups, it’s not exactly outside the realm of possibility.

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Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Spreading ashes without permission is a misdemeanor in Anaheim, and if you’re caught in the act of adding a little authenticity to the Haunted Mansion (reportedly the most popular site for scattering ashes) you’ll be promptly booted from the park. Of course, with a company as image-conscious as Disney, scattering the dearly departed isn’t the only thing you can’t do upon entry to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Disney costumes
Phillip Maguire |

Wear a Costume as an Adult

You may have spent hours upon hours of work on crafting your perfect Maleficent costume, but if you’re 14 or older, you’ll have to leave your horns and robe behind. Adults aren’t allowed to wear costumes that could be construed as being “representative of the Disney brand.” Basically, it’s in Disney’s best interest to make sure that an enthusiastic Tinkerbell cosplayer isn’t confused for the park’s officially sanctioned fairy representative.

Enter Its Airspace

That’s right, both Disneyland and Disney World are officially designated “national defense space,” effectively making the parks permanent “no-fly zones.” Violating the airspace around either of these parks could result in federal penalties. And while it makes a certain degree of sense that somewhere as densely populated as a theme park would have some strict security, you don’t see Six Flags or Hershey Park getting the same treatment.

Use a Selfie Stick

You’ve finally wrangled the whole family to squeeze together with Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the background, but no matter how far you stretch your arm out you’re still only getting half of Cousin Russell’s head. Unfortunately, you’ll have to find a way to get everyone in the picture without the aid of a selfie stick. Disney banned them as a safety measure, and if you’re caught trying to smuggle them through the security checkpoints they’ll be confiscated. Sorry, Russell.

Buy Gum

If you’re looking to freshen up with a post-corn dog stick of gum you’d better have thought ahead, as there is ne’ery a pack of Juicy Fruit to be found throughout the land. Walt Disney himself made the call to prohibit the selling of gum in the parks in order to keep the park spic and span and the bottoms of guests’ shoes gum-free.

Bring Wrapped Gifts

Celebrating a birthday at a Disney park? Just make sure that whatever gift you bring isn’t wrapped. The rule is a security measure so that people don’t sneak in other verboten items (weapons, outside alcohol). But look at it this way, it serves as the perfect cover for why you wrap the last-minute gift you bought on your way to the park.

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