There is a reason you love Disney so much; because it’s awesome. Certainly, you are aware you are not alone in making this determination. It is why pretty much every Disney Park is crowded every time you visit. Yet, no matter how amazing something is, if attempting to enjoy it is inconvenient, even overwhelming, the experience can pale, and some will give up on it. From the Eiffel Tower to Las Vegas to Waikiki disgruntled travelers declare, “Never again!” An extreme few have sworn off Disney. A few of them will even stick to it. In general and with consistency, though, Disney earns and retains your faith, devotion and patronage.
Though other tourist destinations suffer when crowds rise, Disney parks seem immune to this issue. But how is this possible? Put simply, Disney tricks their guests into thinking their parks are not all that crowded, even when they are at their busiest. Unbeknownst to guests, there are layers of Disney design elements that absorb, mask and disperse the masses that invariably fill their parks.
1. Hub and spoke engineering
Disney Crowd Management could very well be an advanced MIT degree program, and you could do your doctoral thesis on their walkways alone. Disney did not invent the Hub and Spoke, of course, they’ve just perfected it. Early Italian architects made Hub and Spoke cosmopolitan, and years later the Atlanta airport made it unavoidable. As the geographic center piece of the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and a number of their other parks to varying degrees, Disney has turned the complex system of spatial navigation into an art and science.
In the map above, and in an aerial view of most any of the Disney Parks, the layout resembles that of a wheel; with a hub at the center and walkways branching out as spokes into neighboring sections of the property. The beauty of the Hub and Spoke is how it keeps the traffic moving. The system is designed with few major intersections, thus fewer opportunities for traffic interruption or congestion.
The best examples of this design, and the Disney Resorts are riddled with them, allow you to walk off in any direction and be able to reach any other portion of the park without having to backtrack. In the Magic Kingdom, you can head right at the hub, which is the massive circular courtyard and esplanade at the castle-end of Main Street, entering Tomorrowland, and continue on through Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Adventureland and back to Main Street all without retracing your steps. That's not to say you won't want to revisit sections of the park, but the fact there is no need to helps reduce an eminent log jam like those that form on the way to, from, and through Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.
Yes, you will ocassionally, even often if you frequent particular Disney Parks at particularly festive times, find yourself imobile between the Tomorrowland Speedway and the PeopleMover, or the Matterhorn and Alice in Wonderland. For moving major masses of people throughout such a finite amount of real estate, though, there is no system better than Disney's.