The daily trips to Disneyland started out for Jeff Reitz as a way for him to get out of the house, get some exercise and get a break from the toil of looking for work when he was unemployed in 2012.
A Disneyland annual pass had been a gift, and the visits to the Anaheim park lifted his spirits on hard days. Then, on his 60th consecutive visit, Reitz wondered whether his daily visits to the Anaheim park could be something special.
Last week, the Guinness World Records recognized the 50-year-old as the world record holder for the most consecutive visits to Disneyland, an astonishing 2,995 days. It’s a record that is unlikely to be replicated, given that daily visits are not guaranteed now that the park requires a reservation to visit.
He visited for eight years, three months and 13 consecutive days, just shy of his initial goal of 3,000 consecutive visits.
“I was actually shocked,” said Reitz of Huntington Beach. “I wasn’t actively going for a Guinness World Record all eight years. It was just something I was keeping track of.”
Reitz knew it was a record, but as he kept track of his daily visits to the park, he’d also noted years ago that Guinness World Records didn’t have one for consecutive visits to the Southern California theme park. When he realized that setting a new record could require paying a fee to Guinness and other requirements, he’d simply forgotten about it.
But when Guinness World Records contacted him last week about a possible story about his visits, he found out he was officially recognized as the world record holder.
“It was just wild how all this happened,” he said.
Since 2012, Reitz has been interviewed by news outlets around the world about his thousands of visits and his love for Disneyland.
The endeavor required not just a financial investment, but serious time management, he said.
Once he found a job,
Reitz said, he had to plan when he could fit a visit around his work hours. Sometimes, it required an early or late-night visit, or even taking a day off from work.
It also required him planning out simple things, such as whether he’d eat at the park or make a sandwich for the trip. It may seem like small details, he said, but nearly 3,000 days of meals and snacks can also put a dent in the wallet.
Reitz also took special care to keep a record of his trips. He kept a blog, posted images on Facebook and Instagram, and has held on to every parking receipt of his visits since 2012.
For annual pass holders, Disneyland keeps records of when the pass is used, creating a log of Reitz visits. But when power or computer outages affected the park’s computers, Reitz also stopped by Disneyland’s City Hall so his visits were recorded and logged.
In March 2020, he was approaching the 3,000-visit mark. Then, on March 14, Disneyland announced it was shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the park reopened in April 2021, Disneyland required visitors to make reservations to help manage the park’s notorious crowding problems. Not everyone who seeks a reservation gets one, and new annual passes also block out several dates in December for pass holders, making a new visitation record unlikely.
“I was happy and sad at the same time,” Reitz said.
He was disappointed that, just five days shy of a goal he’d set eight years prior, it was coming to an end, he said. But as the 3,000-day mark approached, he was also wondering what the following day would look like.
Would he return to the park? Would he miss the regulars and cast members who had become friends?
“If I’d seen buddies posting pictures at the park, I would have been bummed out,” he said. “I’m not sure I wanted to stop.”
With the park shutting down, he had no choice.
Today, Reitz is still a common face at the park, but he no longer holds a season pass, he said.
His experience taught him to look for the small details, park features that often go unseen by even the most frequent visitors.
There are the hidden statues and features that Disneyland bloggers often write about. But Reitz said visitors often miss other details, such as the background noise and jokes that are piped in from speakers along park corridors and walkways.
“You’re in such a rush that you won’t get a chance to stop and listen to the sounds and the jokes of the background audio,” he said. “Most people don’t get to hear and realize how much thought and magic the engineers put into it.”