Looking Over the WDW September 2012 Crowd Calendar

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September should be one of 2012’s least busy months at Walt Disney World.  Here’s a quick view of Walt Disney World’s September 2012 Crowd Calendar.

And here are a few specific days that I would like to bring to your attention:

  • September 3, 2012 (Labor Day): Unlike many other holidays, Labor Day does not bring huge crowds with it. Sunday and Monday will be slightly busier (both days are a 6 resort rating on our scale of 1 to 10), but still manageable.
  • September 7 and 8, 2012: The Magic Kingdom hosts two Night of Joy parties on this Friday and Saturday in September.  These events feature contemporary Christian music, and run from 7:30 p.m to 1:00 a.m.  One- and two-day tickets are available, with the one-day tickets priced at $53 in advance and $63 the day of, plus tax (purchase Night of Joy tickets here).  We expect Magic Kingdom crowds to be lower on these days because of that park’s 7 pm closure.
  • September 11, 2012: September starts the run of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties at the Magic Kingdom.  Other September dates are September 14, 18, 21, 25, 28 and September 30.  Advance-purchased tickets cost $56 for adults and $51 for children ages 3-9.  Same-day tickets $63 and $58, plus tax (purchase Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets here).   The Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm these nights, which has its good and bad points. The bad is obviously that you have less touring time. The good is that many people stay away due to the shortened park hours. Since many do avoid the park on those days,  we expect the Magic Kingdom to have very low crowds on all of the party days.
  • September 28, 2012: Epcot’s annual International Food & Wine Festival starts on Friday, September 28, and continues into November. This is becoming an extremely popular event.  World Showcase‘s walkways can get choked with people on Fridays, Saturdays and (to a lesser extent) Sundays as the tourists and locals converge.  While the wait times for the Future World attractions do not climb as much as might be expected, the crowds at the food kiosks, and the roaming groups of drunk college kids, can make walking through World Showcase unpleasant.  We recommend avoiding Epcot on Fridays and Saturdays during Food and Wine unless there is no other option.
  • September 29 at the Magic Kingdom: The Magic Kingdom’s operating hours shorten in September as compared to its summer schedule.  Perhaps in an attempt to draw families away from the opening of Food & Wine, or perhaps to make up for the early park closures from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties, September 29 is one of only 2 days after Labor Day that the Magic Kingdom is open until 11pm with two Main Street Electrical Parades. The late closing and extra parade are the reasons for the higher crowd rating. This and the Food & Wine festival at Epcot are the reasons for the 8 resort rating.

Finally, a couple of other observations on specific dates in September 2012:

  • Mondays at Hollywood Studios: Mondays are our highest crowd ratings for the Studios in September (average of 7.6). That is due to the Evening Extra Magic hours held at Hollywood Studios on that day. Also, each Monday has a second showing of Fantasmic!, which is not a given for September as it has been during the summer.
  • Touring Plans meet in Epcot on September 7: We have increased the crowd rating at Epcot to a 6.7 due to the expected thousands of people lining up to meet Master Statistician Fred Hazleton at the Morocco pavilion. Okay, so maybe it is actually because of the Evening Extra Magic Hours, but I’m sure Fred will draw a crowd nonetheless.

As a reminder, here’s how to interpret the crowd calendar:

  • Crowds are rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest crowds.
  • The crowd rating is based on attraction wait times, not the number of people in any given park.
  • Ratings are generally comparable with previous years, so if you visited Disney World in 2010 on an “8” day you can expect an “8” day in 2012 to be similarly crowded.
  • Ratings are not comparable from park to park. A “6” at the Magic Kingdom is not necessarily comparable to a “6” at the Animal Kingdom.  Why?  The Animal Kingdom has fewer rides and shows than the Magic Kingdom, handling different numbers of people per hour.  The number of people that make the Magic Kingdom a ‘6’ would overwhelm the Animal Kingdom’s rides.
  • Some rides, such as Soarin’ and Peter Pan’s Flight will still have a wait of around 60 and 30 minutes respectively, even on the crowd calendar’s “1”-rated days.  A “1” simply means that it is one of the least busy days, relative to all other days.

If you are fortunate enough to be traveling on a day with low crowds…enjoy! If you find yourself going on a day that has a higher crowd rating…you have no worries either! Why, you ask? As a TouringPlans.com subscriber you have access to thousands of Touring Plans (which are now optimizable) and our Lines mobile application, which will guide you through the parks and keep you from waiting in long lines. Arriving at park opening and following a Touring Plan is the best way to totally negate the crowds.

Hopefully this shed some light on our Crowd Calendar ratings. Feel free to ask questions!


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Brian McNichols

In addition to blogging, I also do some analyzin' here at Touring Plans. I am a travel nut, planning nut, Disney nut, wall nut. Husband of 1, father of 2. Hilariously funny in my own mind. Find me on Twitter @YesThatBrian if you like really dumb jokes.

12 thoughts on “Looking Over the WDW September 2012 Crowd Calendar

  • August 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Any word on a special 9/11 flag retreat or ceremony?

    • August 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Nothing that I have heard, but I am sure it will be a special moment regardless of extra ceremony.

      • August 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        Thanks. I know last year they had the Voices of Liberty. Wasn’t sure if they always do that on 9/11, or just that time since it was the 10th anniversary.

        We always view the Flag Retreat at least a few times. One of the great not-so-well-known gems!

  • August 29, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Fantastic information! Thank you! As a passholder and local, I always love seeing the crowd counts go down in September. The weather and crowds keep us out of the parks for most of the summer, unfortunately. We get our money’s worth back during food and wine, though. 🙂

  • August 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    This was fantastic. We will be at the world the last week of September and the first week of October; any idea when you might have something like this out for October? We already have our parks planned for our trip (love touring plans crowd calendar) but I found this very helpful.

      • August 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm

        I will be waiting anxiously at my computer at 12:01 am on 9/1 🙂

  • August 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Can’t wait for the October post! I am currently working on our touring plans, but had a question. Is there a way, when doing a customized plan, to click that you will be doing a single rider line? Also, Tower of Terror shows that rider swap is available, but it doesn’t give me that option when I add Tower of Terror.

  • August 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I’m looking forward to being there 9/21-9/28 with Free Dining!!

  • August 31, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Planning first trip 9/21-9/27. I have read/researched so much info, which is a good thing, but I relied too much on how low the crowds are for our dates and I made the rookie mistake of waiting too long to get ADRs. I have been trying for last 6 weeks or so with no success, everything we want is full (we did get a super early ADR at Chef Mickeys). Still checking everyday. Can you advise on our chances of getting in restaurants with no ADR for that week? We would like to go to 1900 Park Fare for dinner (staying at the GF), Ohana’s dinner, tusker house bfast specifically. What kind of waits? Will cast members be able to give us accurate wait times? Will we have better chance of getting in 1900 PF since we are staying at that resort? Thanks for your help and all the great info on this site.

  • September 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Is there any thought of which Night of joy would be more crowded – the Friday or Sat night? Also are there any closures in the park, parades, or fireworks?


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