Disney Disputes Pirate Ride Ash Scattering

Police, Disney staff found no evidence of human remains on popular attraction.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 2:05 AM

Nov. 16, 2007 — -- A woman caught on a Disneyland camera sprinkling a powdery substance a week ago from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was enough to close the popular pirate ride for 45 minutes.

The woman, interviewed and released by Disneyland employees, claimed that she was dumping baby powder from her ride car, but a blogger who writes exclusively about Disney reported that the instance actually may have been the latest example of a guest scattering the remains of a loved one from a park attraction.

"The craze seems to have gotten its start at the Haunted Mansion," blogger Al Lutz wrote on his Web site miceage.com, "with the earliest incident taking place in the late 1990s. Ever since, the practice has become more popular by the year."

Lutz, in fact, claimed the practice of scattering ashes has become so common that the ride attendants have been briefed on how to handle such incidents and custodial crews are using specially equipped vacuums to collect the ashes. He cited an instance last month in which a staff member at the Haunted Mansion found several piles of ashes alongside the ride track that were ultimately identified as human remains.

But Sgt. Rick Martinez, a spokesman for the Anaheim police department, told ABC News that while a police officer who works inside the park was notified about the possibility of human remains scattered inside the 15-minute flume-style pirate ride last Friday, there was no confirmation that the ashes actually were those of a deceased person.

"As soon as the woman gets off the ride, she says it was baby powder," Martinez said. "And that lady's in the wind."

Park security and ride staff could not recover any of the powder, which quickly dissipated in the ride's water.

"Bottom line, we did not respond," Martinez said. "We were there, but there was really nothing to go on. We did not take a report."

Martinez acknowledged urban legends about the crematory droppings, but said that in his 35 years on the force, no one's ever been caught for dumping a loved one's ashes on the grounds of the Disneyland amusement park.