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Meet Disneyland’s biggest fan

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In this undated photo, Jeff Reitz is shown during his 2,000th visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. In this undated photo, Jeff Reitz is shown during his 2,000th visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. (photo courtesy of Reitz via Facebook)

When Jeff Reitz lost a job at the end of 2011, he hoped to cheer himself up by visiting nearby Disneyland Park in Anaheim. After spending a relaxing day in the theme park that he remembered so fondly from his youth, Reitz thought it would be fun to commit to visiting Disneyland each day in 2012. Over five years and more than 2,000 visits later, he shows no sign of stopping.

“I was given my first annual pass as a gift. At the end of the year, my friends and I were still having fun doing it, so I wanted to see how long I could keep it up,” Reitz told me of his daily appointment in the park that Walt built.

Reitz, a former U.S. Air Force firefighter stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, has been employed with the VA Long Beach Healthcare System since September 2012.

“Through that job, I’ve been able to fund all of my annual Disneyland Park passes since then,” Reitz says. “Some people will get off work and go straight to a bar for happy hour. Some people go the gym or out to dinner and a movie. I’ve got everything I need right there at the park.”

When people find out that Jeff visits Disneyland every day, most ask if he gets tired of dealing with crowds. He says it’s not a problem when you visit the park daily.

“If I don’t feel like standing in line at Space Mountain for 90 minutes, I know I can go at a different time tomorrow when the line will be shorter,” Reitz says. “If I want to see the fireworks in front of the castle, I know when to be there to get the best spot.”

Not long after he started visiting the park daily, Reitz says he began making friends with many of the Disney Land cast members, and even a few visiting celebrities.

“We’ve even become friends outside of the park,” Reitz says of the park’s employees.

“I’ve bumped into Justin Bieber here at Disneyland,” Reitz continues. “I’ve said ‘Hi’ to Kobe Bryant a number of times and (actor/musician) Drake Bell has become a Disney friend. We hit rides together when he’s here.”

Reitz says he grew up about 12 miles from Disneyland and would usually visit a couple of times per year with his family for birthdays and at Christmas.

“Since then, it’s been a lot of fun to watch all of the changes in the park as they happen,” Reitz told me.

When he started his daily Disneyland visits in 2012, Reitz says there was an enormous parking lot where Ornament Valley and Cars Land now stand. The 300,000-square foot mountain range, based on the “Cars” movie franchise, is the largest rockwork construction of any Disney theme park.

Reitz’s high school graduation party was held at Disneyland in 1991.

“That was a fun night. I remember seeing C&C Music Factory with Freedom Williams over at Tomorrowland Terrace and En Vogue at Videopolis,” Reitz says.

With 2,019 consecutive daily visits (as of the date of this issue) under his belt, Reitz says he has taken in all of the park’s attractions, but he has yet to partake in any of the organized tours offered by the park.

“Now that I can afford the tours, I’m going to start doing that this year,” Reitz told me.

As for the park’s food, Reitz says he’s tried nearly everything and recommends a visit to Pizza Port at Tomorrowland.

“My girlfriend and I will go there for the pasta,” Reitz told me. “It’s delicious and filling.”

Later this year, Reitz says he and his girlfriend plan to experience the upscale dining offered at Napa Rose, the only Disneyland restaurant he has yet to visit.

For first-time Disneyland visitors, Reitz, who usually visits late in the afternoon or early in the evening, has some advice. 

“Take a look at how many days you’re going to be there. I use the Signature Plus passport. It includes parking and gives you discounts on food and merchandise,” Reitz says. “It pays for itself after only eight visits and it’s good for the whole year.”

Reitz says his number one recommendation is to bring a healthy dose of patience.

“Now that it’s summer, a lot of people are here on vacation, and with big crowds, tempers can flare. It’s important to remember that you’re there to have a good time. Just relax, slow down and have fun. Go sing with the birdies over in the Tiki Room, come out with a Dole Whip and have a smile.”

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