(CNN) There are Disney park regulars, and then there’s Jeff Ritz. The 50-year-old Californian visited Disneyland every day for 2,995 days between 2012 and March 2020, which earned him a shiny new look. Guinness World Records for most consecutive trips to an amusement park.
Reitz’s adventure began a decade ago when he found himself with an annual pass to Disneyland and, due to being unemployed recently, was given a host of unexpected free time. One visit turned into another, and soon he was documenting his daily travels for thousands of followers under Social media deal with Disney366 – an indication of the number of days in 2012, a leap year.
His visits were curtailed due to the pandemic in early 2020, but history has already been made. (After all, one doesn’t haunt the same place every day for eight years and not become something of a celebrity.) Guinness researchers discovered Ritz’s achievement, and recently contacted him about creating a new record.
Reitz spoke to CNN about his favorite moments in the park, and what made the experience something worth coming back to, day in and day out.
Why his streak started breaking records
Reitz has a history with Disneyland. The park already felt like an old friend when he started his line in 2012. “I grew up in Huntington Beach, and my family came over a few times a year,” he told CNN.
“It’s a nice place to walk around and chat to people. The park is really alive. I got to see a lot of things change.”
Plus, the cost was fairly low, especially by Disney standards.
“One of the criticisms I get is people say, ‘Oh, that must have cost a lot of money. ‘ I live about 20 minutes away, and with an annual pass that also covers parking, a year of daily visits costs about $1,400. It’s a lot, but it’s not What people think.”
Even when Ritz went back to work, he made the day trip from his job to Disneyland, and then home again.
“Part of what made it fun was that I tried to mix things up and do things differently each time,” he says. “The only thing consistent is that I’ve been posting a check-in on social media, trying to post one picture from the park a day.”
In 2012, Instagram wasn’t the cultural giant it is now, and smartphones weren’t that smart. Instead, Reitz spent his first few years on a BlackBerry Bold 9700.
His favorite things to do and eat
Reitz’s favorite destination at Disneyland is Matterhorn sleda pair of steel roller coasters that whirl through an alpine landscape that resembles the famous cliff top.
“It’s been my favorite attraction since I was little,” he says.
However, the opening of 2019’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a park complex with many different rides and attractions, brought a close second.
Any Disney fan will know that the attraction is not Just Attraction – it’s an experience. One can practically sit all day without catching a single ride and still enjoy the atmosphere.
“There’s an area next to the boat docks on the other side of the Matterhorn where I like to relax when I visit,” says Ritz. “Sometimes, I’ll go to Galaxy’s Edge and listen to the background sounds and music. Or climb the Adventureland Treehouse for a nice view.”
As for sustenance, Disney park food isn’t cheap or easy. Reitz discovered a reliable method: pasta from the Pizza Port restaurant in the Tomorrowland section of the park.
The reason he keeps coming back
While thrill rides and carbs can certainly be great incentives, they weren’t the reason Reitz was back in the park day in and day out.
“It’s always the cast members who make the magic, not the venue itself,” he says. As the years went by and he became a bona fide Disneyland regular, he collected stories and secrets from Disney Parks employees, referred to as cast members.
A staff member who used to be a park-set illustrator told Reitz about little Easter eggs that the artists enjoyed, like a box in the “ghost town” of Frontierland, which he would sometimes repaint with different population numbers.
In 2013, when Ritz noticed that a large tree near the park exit was missing, a cast member told him she could tell one of two stories about it.
The factual thing, she said, was that the tree, which was very old, had fallen ill and had to be removed. The feel-good story, she said, was that there were some trees that were planted when [Disney] They opened the park first, and they were simply moved to another location.”
Some time later, while passing a corner of Soarin’s attraction at Disney’s California Adventure (the park adjacent to Disneyland, which Reitz also visited on occasion), he spied a tree he had never seen before. She looked eerily familiar.
“Was it the same tree? Who knows if that’s true. But this kind of magic they can spin.”
What will he do next
Times have changed, and getting in and out of Disneyland is not as easy as it used to be. As a result of the pandemic, Disneyland is now operating on Admission reservation system That effectively limit the time that guests can come to the park. While it makes repeat visits difficult, it also ensures Reitz’s record won’t be challenged — at least not for a while.
Until then, there are plenty of new attractions for Reitz to discover, like the park’s new Avengers Campus.
“Having been out of the park for three years, going back is an opportunity for me to have an eye-opening experience,” says Ritz. “It will almost be like starting over, which is exciting. (Walt) Disney himself he once said“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
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