ANAHEIM, Calif. — What began as a joke for a California man has now been certified as a world record.
Jeff Reitz, of Huntington Beach, made 2,995 consecutive visits to Disneyland between Jan. 1, 2012, and March 2020, has been honored by Guinness World Records. He was officially certified as a record-holder last week.
Reitz, 50, is the personification of the phrase, “I’m going to Disneyland,” which was first uttered by New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms for a commercial after the New York Giants won Super Bowl XXI, SB Nation reported. Whether Simms has ever gone to the Anaheim theme park is debatable. What is not in dispute is that Reitz is the Cal Ripken Jr. of Disneyland visits.
Only the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the closure of the theme park in March 2020, prevented Reitz from topping the 3,000 mark at The Happiest Place on Earth, the Los Angeles Times reported. But for 8 years, 3 months, 13 days, Reitz visited Disneyland daily.
The park closed on March 14, 2020, KNBC-TV reported.
“It started as a joke between friends when Disneyland announced they were giving an ‘Extra Disney Day’ when they announced the Leap Day 24-hour event in 2012,” Reitz told Guinness in a news release.
Reitz was able to visit the park so frequently because he was gifted a season pass-holder and was unemployed. He never believed that it would become a daily record-setting trek.
“I was actually shocked,” Reitz told the Times. “I wasn’t actively going for a Guinness World Record all eight years. It was just something I was keeping track of.”
The Leap Day promotion, a 24-hour event, occurred when Reitz had visited the park for 60 consecutive days, Guinness said. A reporter caught wind of the feat and began tracking it.
Reitz set a record that unlikely will be topped since the park requires a reservation to visit and daily visits are no longer guaranteed, the Times reported.
He was also featured in the 2021 book edition of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” according to KNBC.
Setting the mark also required some adept juggling, especially once Reitz found a job. He had to plan visits around his work schedule and sometimes would appear at the park early in the day or late at night to keep the record intact, according to the newspaper.
Financially, Reitz had to figure out whether to buy food at the park or bring his own. As anyone who has visited a Disney theme park can attest, eating there can be pricey. Imagine doing it nearly 3,000 times.
Reitz still visits the park but no longer has a season pass, the Times reported.
But now, Reitz can revel in the details.
“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 told the Times. “Most people don’t get to hear and realize how much thought and magic the engineers put into it.”