Disney World is one of Florida’s biggest attractions and many Floridians can attest to experiencing the happiest place on Earth at least once. But not many can say they’ve been there as many times as CCHS senior Will Barringer. Barringer first went to Disney when he was three years old and has since gone more times than he can possibly count.
Barringer’s love of Disney began with watching the movies as a young kid. “Dumbo,” “Bambi,” “Peter Pan” and the rest of the original classics were always on his TV. Barringer names “The Princess and the Frog” as his favorite to this day.
“I think Tiana is the perfect example of a Disney princess,” Barringer said. “[She] teaches everyone that we can achieve our dreams if we dig a little deeper and never give up.”
Barringer’s love for these movies as a kid made his first trip to Disney almost surreal.
“As a kid, it’s crazy when all the movies you watched are actually coming to life in front of your eyes.”Senior Will Barringer
“As a kid, it’s crazy when all the movies you watched are actually coming to life in front of your eyes,” Barringer said.
That first experience started his love of the theme parks, and his admiration didn’t stop there. Disney World has a variety of attractions that keeps the parks packed with visitors of all ages all year round and Barringer has found no shortage of excitement on his many visits.
Barringer and his family began their regular visits by buying four-day passes and seeing almost all of Disney World during every trip. As Barringer’s love for Disney grew, so did the frequency of their visits. In middle school, Barringer and his family decided to get annual passes and have continued to purchase them every year since. Barringer and his family go for at least two days every trip but often stay long enough to visit every park.
“My best Disney memory with Will cannot be expressed with just one memory. Every time we go to Disney together it’s like going to Disney for the first time,” Barringer’s mother Amy Barringer said. “Each trip is unique. We try to do something new, stay somewhere new, or eat somewhere new which creates a new Disney memory for each of us to treasure every time.”
“My best Disney memory with Will cannot be expressed with just one memory.”Senior Will Barringer’s mother Amy Barringer
In recent years, Barringer has also added his best friend, Alyssa Hernandez, to his group of Disney travelers. Hernandez, a student at Pembroke Pines Charter High School, met Barringer while working on a theatre production together at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Barringer and Hernandez often travel to Disney together, accompanied by their moms. The two have made a hobby of looking for the best Disney photo opportunities.
“I like going to Disney with Will because the energy we create when we are there is just so fun and carefree and we both share the same love for it, so it’s always a really good time,” Hernandez said, adding that many of their trips are coordinated down to their attire. “It mostly comes down to keeping to the vibe of the park we’re going to. The most important part of my outfits are the ears! I always wear one of my many pairs of Minnie Ears to match whatever it is that I’m wearing, along with other accessories like bags and, nowadays, masks.”
Of course, Disney is far from the only theme park in Florida; Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Seaworld and others all have a lot to offer. However, Barringer still stays true to Disney World. He concedes that Universal and others may have more thrilling or intense rides and that Disney may be behind in the modern advancements of other parks. But, Barringer believes there is something more special about Disney World that sets it apart from all of it’s competition.
“To me, it feels like I’m a kid again, which is a feeling that I haven’t felt at any other theme park,” Barringer said. “Walt [Disney’s] dream of creating a place where every member of the family has an aspect that they can enjoy came true and I’m so glad that I get to experience it.”
“To me, it feels like I’m a kid again, which is a feeling that I haven’t felt at any other theme park.”Senior Will Barringer
Of the parks, Barringer’s favorite is Hollywood Studios.
“I love the old Hollywood vibe and music, and they’ve updated it with new attractions and two completely new lands,” Barringer said.
However, his favorite attraction, Flight of Passage, resides in Animal Kingdom in the heart of the Avatar-themed world, Pandora.
“[Flight of Passage] is one of the most unique experiences ever and it does an incredible job of putting you in the middle of the magic,” Barringer said.
Barringer does have a large interest in the resorts and has made an effort to stay in a variety of different ones. He even paid a visit to the sprawling Grand Floridian resort, an experience that he claims took his breath away.
“There are so many lovely resorts and it’s been my goal for awhile now to stay at every single one of them.”Senior Will Barringer
“There are so many lovely resorts and it’s been my goal for awhile now to stay at every single one of them,” Barringer said.
Like everything else, Disney was severely impacted by COVID-19. The parks had previously only closed for a few days ever, usually due to hurricanes, but the pandemic caused every park to shut down for months.
With the usual massive crowds and reused roller coaster carts, it seemed quite the challenge for Disney to reopen again. When they did begin to reopen on July 11, 2020, Barringer wasted little time in returning to the parks. He went five times in 2020 and has already made another visit at the start of 2021. As a result, he got to witness the new health and safety guidelines firsthand.
“With a reduced capacity to promote physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings, they’re doing a wonderful job,” Barringer said.
Even during a pandemic, Disney World truly is a unique place. It has drawn thousands of people from around the world almost daily for decades and Barringer couldn’t be happier to share in the magic. He has been a Disney superfan his entire life and plans to continue his visits indefinitely.
Photos courtesy of Will Barringer