It started as something to do in 2012 — visit Disneyland every day. Now, more than five years later, Jeff Reitz, 44, of Huntington Beach, has passed through the Magic Kingdom’s turnstiles every day since for more than 2,000 days in a row.
“It was something to do to keep things fun,” Reitz said June 22, after walking through Sleeping Beauty Castle.
His repeated visits have made him a bit of a celebrity; several television stations were there that Thursday morning to record his 2,000th trip through the turnstile.
Back in 2012, Reitz was going every day with his friend Tonya Mickesh of Lake Forest. Both were unemployed at the time, and used the daily visits as a way to keep their spirits up.
Later that year, Reitz landed a job at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, and Mickesh found employment too. After succeeding at going every day that entire leap year, they were rewarded by the park with a night in the Disneyland Dream Suite. Since then, the couple has gone their separate ways.
But Reitz kept going, and in 2014 he hit the 1,000-days-in-a-row mark.
“It’s become a living, breathing thing along the way,” the annual passholder said.
He still visits daily, sometimes alone and sometimes with current girlfriend Karen Bell of Costa Mesa. Because of his job, his weekday visits are frequently in the late afternoons and evenings. On weekends, his visit times can vary.
Reitz, a veteran of the Air Force, has memories of the theme park from when he was 2 years old and rode the Matterhorn — still his favorite attraction.
“I have memories of riding it with my mom and holding onto my blankie,” he said.
“I love sitting in the front row, holding the handle and leaning into the turns.”
None of the attractions bother Reitz, whether it’s riding in a boat going through “it’s a small world” or flying up and down on “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!”
“There’s nothing I would turn away from, I’m looking forward to checking out the new dance show for kids at Disney Junior in Disney California Adventure,” Reitz said.
Along the way he’s met many celebrities and tried the food at nearly every restaurant, saying, “Pizza Port is my go-to place. I love going there for the pasta and the soft drinks.”
He’s made many friends at the park, including a number of its cast members (what Disneyland calls its employees) and other regular visitors to the park. Many times he says he’ll just walk around or find a place to sit and watch people while listening to the area music.
There is a specific routine for his daily visits: He always parks in the Mickey & Friends parking structure and has kept every parking ticket from every day. He always enters Disneyland first, before going across the Esplanade to visit Disney California Adventure. He posts several photos daily through social media too.
Thanks to the many visits, he has advice for other, less regular, visitors, such as using the Disneyland app on their smartphones to keep up with wait times and ride closures, and to use Fastpasses for the really popular attractions.
“The number one thing I tell people is to bring your patience. With the summertime crowds and the heat I tell people to relax and have fun.”
He admitted he does not know when he will stop going every day.
“My current pass is good until January of 2018, then we’ll see.”