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A man set a Guinness World Record for Disneyland visits: 2,995 in a row

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Most mornings, I like to go for a run. I can't manage it every morning, though - certainly not for 2,995 days in a row. That is how many days the newly certified Guinness World Record holder for most consecutive visits to Disneyland went to the California theme park. Just to wrap your head around that number, we are talking eight years, three months, 13 days straight. We had questions, so we called him. Jeff Reitz, congratulations. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

JEFF REITZ: Thank you.

KELLY: Tell me how this started.

REITZ: It actually started out as a joke.

KELLY: (Laughter).

REITZ: It was just fun between friends. We were at the park on January 1, 2012. And the night before, Disney had run the commercial about giving an Extra Disney Day when they announced the Leap Day 24-hour event. And while we were at the park, we were joking around. How could it be an extra day if you didn't use the others? And at the time, we were unemployed, so we thought we'd use it as a positive to get us out of the house instead of being upset about our situation. We could still do job hunting morning, noon or night. We made the 366 and carried on.

KELLY: And just kept going and going and going. Why...

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: ...I mean, it's one thing to go, like, you know, let's make it to the Leap Day. Let's go for a year. But more than eight years - what kept you going?

REITZ: I was actually still having fun with it. I actually started working at the VA Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., in September 2012. And I found it was something fun and enjoyable to do. It was my gym. It was my happy hour. It was entertainment. You know, instead of paying for a separate membership for doing lots of different things, it was all in one package with my annual pass.

KELLY: Yeah, I was about to ask how much this cost. So you got an annual pass every year?

REITZ: Correct. And depending on what year you're looking at, my passes ranged anywhere from about $500 for the year in the beginning to $1,400 at the end. So for me going every day, even at the end, it was only about 3.50 a day - so about the same as someone going to buy a cup of coffee.

KELLY: Yeah. So I guess that makes sense. You made it so close to 3,000 days in a row. It was COVID that ended your streak, back when everything shut down?

REITZ: That's correct. It was Friday the 13 of March 2020 was the last day that Disneyland was open.

KELLY: How strange was it to wake up on - I guess it was Saturday the 14 - and not go to Disneyland?

REITZ: It was a little odd. But knowing that the entire country or world was having to go cold turkey, I think, in a sense, it made it easier for me.

KELLY: For people listening who might be thinking, God, Disneyland. Yeah, I should go. I should try at least one day. What's your top tip?

REITZ: Bring the largest dose you can of your patience because, no matter what, you're going to be around a lot of people. It's not going to be just you and your friends and family that are close to you. Along with that, bring a battery to keep your phones charged throughout the day because now you also want to have the app on your phone in order to see the wait times or to even order your food before you go to get it.

KELLY: Well, Mr. Reitz, congratulations again, and thank you for sharing your story with us.

REITZ: Thank you. It's been a lot of fun and very magical because the whole Guinness World Record title was a gift. It wasn't even something that I had planned on. So when Guinness presented it to me, that was the frosting on the cake that really topped everything off.

KELLY: Jeff Reitz, who is, as you just heard, a new Guinness World Record holder. He went to Disneyland for 2,995 days in a row.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAMARCINOGLU'S "TRIBUTE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alejandra Marquez Janse
Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Patrick Jarenwattananon
Mary Louise Kelly
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.