There are Disney adults – who are obsessed with the animation giant’s products despite being grownups – and then there’s Jeff Reitz.
Reitz’s fascination with Disney drove him to visit the company’s world-famous theme park in Anaheim, California, daily for eight years, three months and 13 days.
As a result, the 50-year-old from nearby Huntington Beach has earned himself an entry in the Guinness book of world records for having made the most consecutive visits to Disneyland ever, officials announced last week.
Reitz “was actually shocked” when Guinness called him and informed him of the record he’d set, he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Saturday. “It was just wild how all this happened.”
As Reitz recounted to the Times, while he was unemployed in 2012, he began visiting Disneyland daily with an annual pass that had been a gift for him so he could leave his house, exercise and break up the monotony of job hunting.
The visits boosted his spirits, and before he knew it, he had been going for two months straight. On his 60th day, Disneyland hosted a 24-hour event highlighting 2012 as a leap year, and he met a reporter who was covering the gathering, according to the Guinness website.
The reporter started following the social media posts Reitz would publish at the start of each of his trips to Disneyland, and the journalist eventually wrote an article about the Mickey Mouse aficionado that gained a lot of attention.
After the media attention, Reitz began being recognized by other guests – who would ask him for his autograph or to take a picture with them – and also started getting to know the park’s employees, or “cast members”. He wondered how long he could keep it up and whether he had something special going, so he investigated whether Guinness had a world record for consecutive visits to Disneyland.
Guinness didn’t, but when he realized he may have to pay a fee to the organization to be officially celebrated for his feat, Reitz said he let it slip his mind.
He ultimately made it to Disneyland on 2,995 consecutive days before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the park to close for more than a year beginning on 14 March 2020.
Going on trips to Disneyland for nearly 3,000 days in a row required immense planning from him once he got a job again. He had to go early in the day, late at night or on breaks from his job. And he had to decide whether he would make himself a sandwich to eat there or splurge for meals prepared by the park staff, he told the Times.
It’s unlikely anyone will ever again challenge Reitz’s streak. Since its post-pandemic reopening, Disneyland now requires visitors to make reservations in advance to keep crowds manageable. As the Times reports, not everyone who wants a reservation can secure one, and new annual passes also block out several dates in December for holders, all of which are in effect safeguards for Reitz’s record.
Guinness essentially acknowledged all those factors by announcing on 21 February that it had decided to enshrine Reitz in its list of record holders.
It was only the latest laurel the mental health professional had gotten for his unique streak.
At one point, Disneyland had given him a gift basket and a certificate proclaiming him an honorary citizen of the park. The park also made him a celebratory dinner and gifted him a special backpack as he continued extending his streak.
Reitz doesn’t hold an annual Disneyland pass any more, the Times reported, but he still occasionally visits. He told the Guinness world records site he already knew what he wanted to do the next chance he got to go to the theme park, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Disney company’s founding this year.
“I think,” Reitz said, “it would be really fun to return with my Guinness world records title certificate to get pictures where I earned it – inside Disneyland.”
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