- Jodie Jackson Wells honored her mother after she died by spreading her ashes at Disney World.
- Her mother loved the It’s a Small World ride and the Cinderella Castle and went to Disney World every year, so it was an important place for her family.
- Wells hopes her children will think of their grandmother whenever they visit.
- She said she spread “only a small amount” and didn’t think it would disrupt park operations.
When Jodie Jackson Wells’s mother died suddenly in 2009, she was in shock.
For two weeks, Wells felt numb with grief. Then she had an idea.
Spring break was coming up, and she and her children could take a trip to Disney World in Florida, driving down from her home in New Jersey. Her mother had gone there every year since it opened in 1971, even bringing her kids and grand kids when they were born. Her mother started her annual tradition of going there shortly after her wedding. It was one of her favourite places on Earth.
On her trip, Wells smuggled in a small pill bottle with some of her mother’s cremated remains. She spread the ashes while on It’s a Small World, her mother’s favourite ride.
Then she visited the Cinderella Castle, her mother’s favourite place in the park. In the spur of the moment, she sprinted across the grass, dropping ashes from her hands.
“I was moved to place my mum in front of the castle,” Wells told INSIDER. “The moment when I ran across the lawn was kind of freeing. I literally ran, leaping across the lawn like I was a graceful dancer.”
It was cathartic.
“It did feel good to kind of let that go,” she said. “And it felt right.”
Disney custodians recently verified longstanding rumours that visitors to Disney World and Disneyland, in California, frequently spread the ashes of the deceased. It happens around one a month, they told The Wall Street Journal. Reports of the practice – particularly by the Haunted Mansion – have circulated in online forums for years. And in 2007, Disney denied widespread reports that a woman sprinkled ashes while on Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.
Wells said that Disney World remains an important place for her family. Wells continues to bring her kids there all the time. It’s a place where they can remember their grandmother.
“They know their grandma is there, in a way,” she said. “And Small World is still, almost 10 years later, super emotional. Emotional but comforting.”
A representative for Disney’s theme parks didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.
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