Disneyland Living – A Conversation With Jeff Reitz
Some people go to the gym or go to happy hour after work…I’ve got everything right here!
Jeff Reitz, the man who has visited Disneyland for a continuous 971 days and counting has been living the dream of many fans. Both Disney and his own! From being interviewed from around the world to being recognized by his social media followers, Jeff enjoys sharing the Disney magic with all.
We sat down with Jeff to get a glimpse of what life is like at Disneyland and beyond the parks!
How did the #Disney366 challenge begin?
It started out as a combination of a joke. If you remember New Year’s Eve 2011, Disney ran the commercial about giving you an extra Disney day for Leap Year 2012, and how they were going to do their first 24 hour day on February 29th. Well my friend Tanya was joking around like, “How could it be an extra day if you don’t use the others?” And so it kind of started as a joke from that. We had both had already planned to come on January 1st and at the time we were both unemployed and we had our passes that had been gifted to us. And so we both had premium passes, started coming, and then we started thinking like, “It’s a good thing to keep going you know, keep us motivated.” And that’s just it. We used it as a motivational tool with us both being out of work, and for a lot of people it’s like you’re so bummed out about being out of work and don’t have the money so you could sit around or sleep all day or stay in sweats and pajamas.
Why do you love Disneyland so much?
I enjoy Disney as a whole. When visiting, the Matterhorn has always been my favorite attraction since I was about 2 before they had height restrictions. My mom and I would go on it with my blankie. Even my mom always talks about it because I was born up in the San Francisco Bay Area and my parents came down and went to Disneyland for their honeymoon. So even for them, there are those fond memories.
I grew up right here in Huntington Beach and I have a lot of fond memories of it where back then, my family would come to Disneyland for Christmas or Easter, birthdays, holidays and special occasions. So there was always something special. My brother, my mom and dad and I would come. Occasionally we would get to come when relatives came down from the Bay Area and we’d meet up to go to the park with our cousins. So you’ve got those special memories of that. My brother was married here. His wedding took place in the gazebo, which now sits over by Trader Sam’s, but when he got married in ‘97, the lawn area is right where ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney now sits. There’s been a lot of changes.
Fast forward to the present and after I got a pass, I was also working for a travel agency and I enjoyed it so much while I was working as an admin and became a Disney specialist. So I earned my Disney ears from becoming a travel specialist.
How do you not get tired of it all?
I don’t have a routine. There’s a lot of different things. The only routine that I have is parking at the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure to get my receipt and if at all possible I’ll make a swoop through Disneyland Park first, even if it’s in the gate, out the gate and over because of an event or I have to meet up with friends. Once I’m in there and I’ve done my check-ins, anything is fair game. Everyday is different and I don’t go from open to close everyday. It’s about making a visit everyday, not spending the entire day.
I really enjoy talking to the cast members a lot. And guests! There are a lot of neat stories, not only about Disney but the individuals and they’re the ones who really make the magic. Being that I’m an honorary citizen of Disneyland, I also love sharing information and helping other guests. It’s those little things that can create magic.
Additionally, Disneyland is open to so many ways of enjoying it and that’s one of the reasons why I never get burned out on it. One day I might ride all the E-ticket attractions or just all the rides we can. It’s really easy to choose attractions or shows, finding different ways of mixing things up to enjoy it more. Having other people choose what they want to go on and sharing the magic through their eyes has also been a lot of fun. And that’s why there are so many memories.
Even with a job now do you still find time or like going to the parks?
I work at the Long Beach VA Hospital and as you can imagine, the work environment is very hectic and crazy at times. You can get bogged down and stressed easily, but 5 o’clock comes and I know I’ll be over here at the parks and I get to go have some fun. I get to walk through the gate and there’s Goofy and Minnie Mouse and it’s like, “Hey Goof! What’s goin’ on?” and I get a high-five. Things like that.
Have you gotten a Guinness World Record for your visits everyday?
I haven’t contacted Guinness yet. I’ve taken a look and there is no record for it yet. According to the Guinness rules, it has to be something that is obtainable by more than one person and that can be beat by more than one person so because of that, we can’t file for the most times in a year. Since it started in 2012 on Leap Year and we went every single day, you can never go more than 366 days. You can only go for the most consecutive days. So because of that, I’m still going and still having a lot of fun.
I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep going, but at this point, I’ve held off from filing because there is no rush as long as I’m still coming. Why file for it if I’m going to keep going?
What is a moment you’ll never forget?
My #Disney366 challenge has left quite a few memories, some good some not so good. But all special. My first 24 hour day, being on TV and having people text me that they saw me on TV and in the news and everything. That was kind of trippy. Things like that. Staying in the Disneyland Dream Suite and being made honorary citizens – all the various events that have happened have been a lot of fun and getting to meet people and share the magic together. That’s what it’s all about!
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Our special thanks to Jeff Reitz for taking the time to share his experiences with us even during one of his Disneyland days!
Jeff shared with us that the #Disney366 challenge means going to Disneyland everyday for any period of time. Would you be up for that challenge? Does Jeff’s story make you want to share magic with more people? Do you think it’s unhealthy? Do you have any magical stories from talking to other guests and cast members at the parks? Let us know in the comments below!
Jeff is a very friendly guy! I had the pleasure of meeting him twice this year, once with his lovely girlfriend! I was also there during the leap year celebration in 2012, and can definitely relate to Jeff’s reasons of why he loves the parks so much. If I lived in Southern California, I would probably be doing the same thing that he is. I can’t wait to see how he celebrate day 1,000! Go Jeff!