ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — If Disneyland is “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Jeff Reitz may be its happiest citizen.
As of Thursday, Reitz had visited the park for 2,000 days in a row — every day for 5½ years.
Reitz, 44, of Huntington Beach began visiting the park on New Year’s Day in 2012 with his former girlfriend. The unemployed Disney fans thought it would be a fun way to keep up their spirits if they visited every day during that leap year.
But after they got jobs and even after the relationship ended, Reitz kept going.
“It’s become a living breathing thing along the way,” he told the Orange County Register.
The Air Force veteran now works at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System and makes time to visit the park daily, sometimes alone and sometimes with his current girlfriend, Karen Bell of Costa Mesa.
“I love walking around taking pictures, talking with cast members and guests,” he said.
Reitz has tried virtually every ride and restaurant in Disneyland and the adjoining Disney California Adventure Park. His favorite restaurant is Pizza Port in Tomorrowland.
His favorite ride is the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which he first rode when he was 2.
“I love sitting in the front row, holding the handle and leaning into the turns,” Reitz said.
But “there’s nothing I would turn away from,” he said.
Reitz has some advice for Disneyland visitors: Get the Disneyland app for smartphones to keep up with wait times and ride closures and use the FastPass system to reserves times for the most popular attractions.
“The number one thing I tell people is to bring your patience,” Reitz said. “With the summer time crowds and the heat I tell people to relax and have fun.”
Reitz doesn’t know how long he’ll keep making daily visits to the park but notes his current annual pass is good until next January.
“I’ve gotten to experience so much of the magic of Disney that it continues to be fun for me,” he said. “And that’s why I’ve still chosen to keep coming every day.”