Open Post: Hosted By The Disney Adult Who Went To Disneyland Every Day For Over Eight Years
I’m an escapist; gimme a bottle of red wine and some Real Housewives of Miami, and I can successfully forget my woes for several hours. But there’s another level of escapism I have yet to reach, and that is becoming a Disney adult. Someone obsessed with the parks, the characters, the dream of happily ever after. See: the recently engaged Rebel Wilson. Arrested development or innocent fun? I guess it depends on the person. Jeff Reitz’s Disney obsession might be described as “all-consuming.” Guinness World Records reports that 50-year-old Jeff, from Huntington Beach, California, made 2,995 consecutive daily visits to Disneyland from 2012 to 2020. It’s a record, and the only reason Jeff’s run was broken was because the park closed due to COVID-19. Huh. Good things did come out of the pandemic!
Obviously, I had a ton of questions. Did Jeff work during his Disney streak? How long would each visit last? How much does this cost? What if he got sick? And how the hell did this all begin? Luckily, Jeff answers any and all questions on his Instagram page, where he uses the hashtag #Disney366. Here are the answers: at first, Jeff was unemployed, but soon he got a job working with veterans (he’s a vet himself, having served in the Air Force). He’d usually pop by the park around 5:00 PM and typically hang out for 3-5 hours. His habit wasn’t that expensive; with his annual Signature Plus pass, each visit would cost him a little over three bucks (food and drinks not included). Jeff says he rarely gets sick, so that was never a problem. Finally, he explains to Guinness that his record-breaking feat began as a “joke”:
“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,” said Jeff.
“We decided to use Disneyland as a positive as we were out of work and had annual passes that had been gifted, so it was a source of free entertainment.
In 2012, after 183 straight days of visiting the park, the Orange County Register printed a story about Jeff, and it was picked up by the Associated Press. Suddenly, Jeff was contacted “by newspapers and radio stations from around the globe asking for interviews.” He also started getting recognized at the park:
After 366 days of visiting Disneyland, the park presented Jeff with a gift basket and a certificate of “Honorary Citizenship.” They rewarded him with a dinner after his second year. Jeff hoped to make it to 3000 visits, but, alas, after Visit #2,995, COVID-19 dashed his dreams. Since the park opened back up, he’s visited, but not every day. I wonder if Jeff was secretly relieved. It’s like last summer, when, after six straight months of winning Wordle, I finally lost. Once my anger and shame passed, I realized losing was a good thing. This stupid little game no longer had a hold on me. I still play, but the pressure and anxiety are gone. I get it, Jeff. I get it.