Monday, November 19, 2007

Resting in Peace at Disneyland

I heard on the news the other day that a Massachusetts fishing boat had caught a body in their nets. The body was identified as that of someone who had been legally buried at sea a few years ago. It seems that you can get permission if you agree to dispose of the remains at least three miles out and in water that's 600 feet deep. Apparently, as those poor fishermen found out, that's not failsafe. Talk about catch of the day! (Hmmmm. Wonder what they did with the fish in their nets. Think I'll pass on the scrod for a while.)

In any case, the deceased's family could have avoided this less than pleasant blowback if they'd cremated their love one and tossed the ashes overboard.

Ashes, after all, just mix and mingle with other natural elements, so it must be OK to pretty much scatter them anywhere, right?

Well, it might be OK to scatter them in the great outdoors, but apparently there are plenty of people who want to spend eternity in the great indoors - or however it is that you would categorize rides at Disneyland.

According to Al Lutz, a Disney-watcher who writes at MiceAge, Disneyland has been dealing with a pretty hideous problem for the last decade: cleaning up the ashes that some lunk head wants left in the Flying Dumbos or some other meaningful place at the Magic Kingdom.

Here's Al Lutz:

The craze seems to have gotten its start at the Haunted Mansion, with the earliest known incident taking place in the late 1990's. Ever since then the practice becomes more popular by the year, and it happens so frequently now that Disneyland has trained the ride operators how to handle such an incident and what to do when remains are discovered inside the attraction. Sometimes the person spreading the ashes is seen on the surveillance cameras and the Cast Members can respond quickly.

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.

And it's not just the Haunted Mansion attraction. Recently, there was a sighting of someone strewing ashes in the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride.  She claimed it was baby powder - oh, that old excuse - but when the cleanup unit arrived, they found something a little crunchier and grayer than talcum.

The ride was closed down while Disney maintenance brought out their special vacuum systems with special HEPA filters and suctioned up whoever it was who always thought of himself as a Jack Sparrow kind of guy.

No word on where those vacuum bags get dumped.

It's been a couple of decades since I stepped foot in Disneyland, but I do remember the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and it's easy for me to imagine a few others where someone might want to flick their loved ones ashes:  Into the maw of the hippo on the Jungle Ride. Inside the guts of the Matterhorn or Space Mountain. Off the decks of the Mississippi paddle-wheeler.

You'd leave too much of a trail in the Spinning Teacups or the Flying Dumbos, but it Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is still around, it would be pretty easy to toss a handful or two out the door of your flivver.

But the big question is: Who Would Want To Spend Eternity in Disneyland? It just seems so goofy, so dopey, so mickey mouse.

And I can't be the only one who's aghast at the prospect of spending my afterlife in the midst of cranky tourists, overpriced souvenir shops, and clean cut college kids dressed up like Snow White and Goofy. Talk about hell on earth. (At least you wouldn't have to pay the entry fee for the privilege.)

With all the beautiful places there are on the face of the earth, why would someone choose Disneyland?

I know, I know. I've said that I wouldn't mind a few of my ashes strewn on the warning track at Fenway, but I was thinking of a very small amount of very fine grained matter - not a paper bag full of bone chunks. And now I'm rethinking even that. 

No, give me the woods or ocean, or stomp my remains into the earth around one of the many burial plots occupied by my relatives in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Leicester, Massachusetts.

Just put me someplace where no one's going to come along and Hoover me up, while in the background a chorus of disgruntled park attendees complain about why the ride's temporarily closed. Someplace where there's zero chance that I'll hear Jiminy Cricket doing "When You Wish Upon a Star" (or the little mice singing "Cinderelly, Cinderelly"). Someplace that wouldn't dare to make the claim to being "The Happiest Place on Earth."


Trixie said...

ok - that's just creepy and weird! I've been to Disneyland quite a few times, and remember a couple times ago being really po'd that the Haunted Mansion ride was closed for the day - must have been a particularly big "cleanup" they were doing. Well, at least the next time I'll know why a ride is closed. I do have to admit, I love Disneyland (the original, NOT D'World in FL) - it's just good old-fashioned hokey fun. But, as far as being the "Happiest Place on Earth" - I can't tell you how many times I've seen screaming, burnt out kids being dragged along by their parents trying to get their money's worth out of their daily pass - more of that "enforced fun" you blogged about the other day.

katrog said...

Why doesn't Disney just set up a designated place, maybe a Bambi's Enchantd Grove plot, where for a fee, you could dump the ashes? Or Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Grove? Or Snow White's Enchanted Cottage, complete with 7 dwarves? Or, well, you get the picture.


Charles H. Green said...

A college classmate of mine married a woman who had been the first female stevedore on the docks in San Francisco. She went to law school and studied maritime law, then got a job with the Navy.

Her first job was defending the Navy in a case where some Portuguese fishermen had come up with--you guessed it, a seaman buried at sea. It is, as you say, a Navy sailor's right to be buried at sea. Most families don't want to do this, but some do. This one did.

I wonder how you defend that case? Not enough weights, your honor?

I always thought that was a little out there, but--Pirates of the Caribbean? Yup, that's one better.