Much has been written and discussed over the years regarding Disney’s Hub and Spoke Design for the Magic Kingdom. In a nutshell, this design came out of Walt’s desire to create a better flow for foot traffic within his park design. But, alas, that is not the type of design detail today’s post is about.
It’s no secret that everything in Disney Parks tells a story – everything. From the materials used to pave the lands, to the paint schemes on buildings. Even the flow of the lands from left to right around the Magic Kingdom – for example – tell a progression within a story. From the nostalgic Main Street USA which captures the innocence of idyllic youth with progress to one side (train) and the fantasy of imagination on the other (Cinderella Castle), you walk toward that imagination and then take a sharp turn to a time of adventure. This land of adventure takes us back to eras and locations from the great adventure stories of our past. Each story having an underlying theme of exploration. From there, a new land emerges, perhaps out of such exploration, and a new frontier is ready to progress from it’s simple and humble beginnings to something far greater. Much like the American Dream itself, the ideals of progression through liberty and hard work is embodied within Liberty Square.
Then, we pass to a different type of story, one forged from imagination, yet declaring all things are possible if we dare to dream. A land of fantasy, where our imaginations are our only limits. Ever wonder why Fantasyland is located here? Here’s a thought – because the only thing that lies between a land of liberty and the exciting world of tomorrow is imagination and fancy. The world of tomorrow will arise out of dreams – that’s why.
Suddenly, we find that those dreams have given birth to a new land of adventure; not unlike the one where we started once taking the step out of Main Street toward fantasy. But this land lies beyond our own horizons, yet as with all other lands requiring dreams and imagination to make it a reality.
Then, we find ourselves coming back down to earth. Stepping, ever so reluctantly, back to today – leaving fantasy, and opening our eyes to a the world of a young boy – a dreamer who stands on a main street, somewhere in middle America. A boy to whom all things are possible if he dare to dream.
This is the flow of the Magic Kingdom. This is the journey of a boy’s imagination, taken perhaps with the help of a mouse. That boy, quite possibly, found as a grown man, fondly remembering that journey, or taking it all over again as he looks back on the era in which it all started, while holding the hand of his traveling partner.
Though you may not have thought of the Magic Kingdom this way, I challenge you to do so during your next visit. Stand on the train platform with your eyes closed, and when you open them, imagine you and your mouse companion are navigating the park through the imagination of a young Walt Disney. See if you feel differently about the story that is being told. See if you have new feelings of excitement and wonder. See if you can move through adventure to tomorrow and back to a creative and optimistic youth that will make your days better, if only you are able to carry it with you as you leave the park. I bet you will.