Huntington Beach resident and former Air Force firefighter Jeff Reitz has spent the last five and a half years visiting Disneyland in California every single day, clocking in a total of 2,000 days on June 22.
Though Reitz had first been introduced to Disneyland Resort as a child, visiting once or twice a year for special occasions, the idea for his 2,000-day journey came to him on New Year’s Eve of 2011.
After a visit to the park that day, Reitz had come home to see a commercial advertising that Disneyland would be offering a 24-hour celebration for the leap year, giving visitors an extra day to take in all the fun.
“We both had passes that had been given to us for birthdays and we joked around saying, ‘How could it be a day extra if you don’t actually plan on using all of the other days?’” Reitz told Travel + Leisure. “So we said let’s do all 366, adding it an extra day for the leap year.”
For Reitz and his colleague, who were both unemployed at the time, the idea was a motivating one.
“We used it as a positive because it forced you to get up and get out of the house every morning instead of moping around,” he said. “It gave me time to exercise and get fresh air for a fresh start; it allowed me to meet other guests and cast members to work on networking and communication skills.”
Even after he got a job at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs hospital, Reitz continued his trips, finding that the park had a lot more to offer people than they might expect.
“In the same way you could have a rough day at work and decide to go out for happy hour drinks, I found that I had everything I needed right there at the Disneyland Resort; there’s drinks and food to choose from, there’s the movie theater and other musical entertainment acts, and there’s fireworks to enjoy,” he said.
“Disneyland is not just about the attractions and characters,” Reitz told T+L. “Those are two main points, but there’s so much more to it to enjoy; I never find myself duplicating any of my days, so it never gets old or boring for me.”
Sometimes, it can be as simple as sitting and enjoying the music while people-watching. Reitz said.
Though he can’t say exactly how much he’s spent over the last 2,000 days, Reitz estimates it’s close to $10,000 if you considering extras like food.
That being said, he’s found being an annual pass holder comes with benefits like free parking, discounts on food and drinks, and special events like movie screenings and meet-and-greets with rarely seen characters like the Country Bears, Robin Hood, and Prince John.
He’s also come to learn a few tricks of the trade when it comes to making the most of a Disneyland visit.
“I’d suggest visiting mid-week on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for lighter days, especially in the off-season,” Reitz said. “Even though the park closes earlier at 8 or 9 during the off-season, they do that most of the time because there’s less people, meaning you can hit the same amount of rides or more in that time.”
If you’re looking to go off-season, shoot for between January and February, or between Labor Day and mid-September, before Halloween attractions start up.
“No matter when you come, bring your patience…especially with the summertime you have heat waves and temperatures flaring, which means attitudes can too, so it's best just to stop and relax,” he said. "Remember that you’re there to have fun."
Reitz plans to continue visiting the park even though his 2,000 days are up, as he still has an annual pass for this year. There’s one hidden location he’d love to get the chance to see: the secret basketball court within the Matterhorn Bobsleds ride (his favorite), which cast members can use during inclement weather.