Labor Day always falls on the first Monday of September which this year is Monday, September 7, as late as it can be on the calendar. The Disney World Crowd Calendar predicts the week before Labor Day will have crowds as light as the week after and so we’ve received many requests to take a closer look. The low numbers seem too good to be true.
I think your calendar is using the early Labor Day from last year as a proxy for this year’s predictions. Better check your numbers because Labor Day is September 7 this year.
So…let’s take a look.
September is the Least Popular Month for Travel
First of all, let’s acknowledge that we may be splitting hairs here. September is the single best time of year to do Disney World if you want to avoid crowds. Period. If you dislike crowds and are considering a trip with the word ‘September’ in your itinerary, book it!
Are Crowds Different Before and After Labor Day?
Now, let’s examine the week before Labor Day and compare to the week after. To do that we need to shift some dates around. In 2014, Labor Day fell on September 1. Going back further it fell on September 2, 2013; September 3, 2012; September 5, 2011 and September 6, 2010. If we ignore the day that the holiday fell and just look at wait times relative to Labor Day then here’s what we see.
In the past, the week before Labor Day has slightly higher wait times than the week after. But wait time data from more recent years is less clear. In 2013, the wait times were about the same before and after Labor Day and last year they look like they were actually lower before the holiday. This helps explain why the Calendar predicts low numbers in early September this year but it is not the whole picture.
School Schedules and Wait Times
One key piece of information that drives the Calendar predictions is the percentage of schools in session. The more school districts in session the less likely that families will travel and the lower the wait times in the parks. A look at the school statistics for early September 2015 may complete the picture.
The main logic behind disbelief in the Calendar’s early September predictions was that school doesn’t start until after Labor Day. But it appears that many of the large school districts have chosen to start the week before. On Wednesday, September 2, 2015 school will be in session for 92% of school districts. This is significantly higher than the percentage in session the Wednesday before Labor Day in 2014 (78%).
So…what did we learn about the week before Labor Day? Two things. A hint of a developing trend where wait times are decreasing (as compared to the week after Labor Day) and; more school districts than normal will be in session. Both signs point to low crowd levels the week before Labor Day in 2015.