HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — The Guinness World Record has honored a Huntington Beach man who visited "the happiest place on Earth" for 2,995 consecutive days.
Jeff Reitz, whom Spectrum News profiled two years ago, received a Guinness World Record recently for most consecutive visits to Disneyland.
"I was surprised," said Reitz to Spectrum News Monday. "They reached out to me on Instagram a couple of weeks ago just about my visits to Disneyland. I didn't put it together initially. The woman sent me a Q&A paperwork, and later, I received a 'Congratulations, you have a Guinness World Record title.'"
Reitz, a 50-year-old Huntington Beach resident and Long Beach Veterans Affairs Hospital worker, joins the ranks of other obscure records and title holders that the Guinness World Record has compiled since the mid-1950s.
The Guinness Book of Records, a London-based organization, is the so-called authority for collecting record feats and obscure titles such as the fastest talker (260 words in 23.8 seconds), most pubs visited (46,495) and the number of people that can fit inside a Smart car (20).
Guinness did not return a message seeking comment from Spectrum News about Reitz's record.
Reitz’s journey has been well documented by himself on social media and traditional news outlets.
A long-time annual passholder and former Air Force member, Reitz began his Cal Ripken-esque streak of visiting Disneyland every day on New Year’s Eve 2011. What started as a joke and fun thing to do with a friend when both were unemployed and to celebrate the leap year 2012 soon became a routine for Reitz.
While his friend dropped out sometime later, Reitz — by this time — found a permanent job. He continued balancing a full-time position with afternoon and evening three- to four-hour trips to Anaheim’s Magic Kingdom.
A stockily built man, he often wore the same type of outfit: a slogger hat, t-shirt and sneakers. He posted each time he was at the park on social media.
He visited the park to exercise, logging an average of 10,000 steps per trip. He sometimes would jump on the Matterhorn ride, his favorite. But mostly, Reitz was often seen chatting it up with Disney’s cast members and hanging out with other annual passholders and guests. He enjoyed the smiles — and attention, becoming a recognizable figure strangers noticed because of his social media following. He became a Disneyland mini-celebrity.
Disneyland recognized his achievement first when he visited the park every day in 2012, then when he hit the 1,000 consecutive visit mark and then later with 2,000 visits.
Disneyland officials declined to comment about Reitz’s Guinness World Record.
After eight years, three months and 13 days, Reitz’s streak stopped when coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions shut down Disneyland and theme parks across the state.
“I was aiming for 3,000 [consecutive] visits,” he said.
Reitz recalls placing his slogger hat on the foot of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and being among the last to leave the park on that final day before the shutdown on March 14, 2020.
He hasn’t visited since.
Much has changed since the pandemic closures.
Disney terminated the annual pass program in favor of the Magic Key system, which now requires visitors to make reservations before visiting the theme park.
Depending on the Magic Key, the reservations are limited. Disney also got rid of a no-blackout pass, so anyone attempting Reitz’s record must pay extra during blackout periods and the Christmas holiday.
“I think it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of money to [beat my record],” he said. “My record is going to stand for quite a while.”
For Reitz, after a bout of depression during the early part of the pandemic because he couldn’t go to Disneyland, he’s content with not visiting the theme park since its closure.
He doesn’t like the new Magic Key pass and the requirement to reserve a visit before going to Disneyland.
“I live 20 minutes away, and it takes the fun away of just showing up at the park or, if you’re having a bad day, just going there and meeting up with friends,” he said.
These days, Reitz has other activities that keep him occupied.
He goes scuba diving and is part of the local Team Red, White & Blue, a nonprofit that connects military veterans with social activities, such as hiking.
Reitz has essentially moved on, he said.
Still, Disneyland has been a big part of his life. The Guinness World Record validates that. He doesn’t mind being called a Disney super fan.
“Yeah, I do miss it,” he said. “It’s more about the people than the park itself — the cast members, the other guests and passholders. I miss the interactions I had with other people.”
Lately, he’s reflected on his accomplishment.
“My [social media] account has reawakened since I’ve been on the news,” he said. “It’s fun, and it’s cool. It’s funny to me. It’s been three years since I’ve last visited, and people are posting pictures of me with them at Disneyland and bringing back those memories.”
But don’t expect him to try to repeat this feat.
“A lot has changed in my life,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll go through it again.”