Our guide to September 2020 at Walt Disney World offers a free crowd calendar, when to visit, weather to avoid, new attraction openings & closures, plus Halloween & fall events. We also cover info & tips for what’s happening at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated January 2, 2020.)
Relative to summer, September is a good month to visit Walt Disney World due to low crowds and seasonal events like Halloween. School is back in session, and wait times are low from Labor Day until October. The September 2020 crowd calendar (below) makes this month a really attractive time to visit.
While every park isn’t going to be “dead” every day of the week, if you plan well, you can really avoid crowds during a September Walt Disney World visit. That also means shorter September park hours, but you can’t really argue with accomplishing more in less time. There’s only really one downside to September at Walt Disney World, and it’s a fairly big one…
That one downside is the weather, which is bad for two distinct reasons that we’ll cover in the next section. On balance, mid to late September can still be a very good time to visit Walt Disney World, but it’s not for everyone. You have to be able to tolerate (or gamble on) the weather in order to be rewarded with extremely low crowds.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect in September 2020 at WDW…
September 2020 Weather at Disney World
The downside comes in terms of weather. In terms of temperatures, September is better than June through August, but it’s still a gamble. It’s a lot like May in this regard: it can be temperate and pleasant, or insanely hot. Especially early in the month, it can be pretty hot and humid.
At the beginning of September, average high temperatures are 90°, with average lows of 75°. Towards the end of the month, the weather improves slightly, with historical highs of “only” 87° and lows of 72°. Add oppressive humidity that’ll fog your glasses the second you step out of your hotel room, and September is still a pretty undesirable month in terms of weather.
Suffice to say, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in September, remember to pack accordingly, bringing the Frogg Toggs for the humidity…and ponchos for the rain so you don’t spend $179 on them at Walt Disney World. You can view day-by-day temperature and weather forecasts plus historical averages for Walt Disney World weather in September here.
September is also the height of hurricane and storm season. For each of the last three years, there have hurricanes that have impacted operations at Walt Disney World at the very end of August or beginning of September. Last year, Hurricane Dorian caused the parks to close.
Two years ago, Hurricane Irma had a similar impact–and we ended up stranded at WDW during that storm. If you’re on the fence about a trip during hurricane season, read our more detailed Our Hurricane Irma Experience at Walt Disney World, which covers what we did to prepare for the storm, how Walt Disney World’s “ride out” Cast Members handled operations, and much more.
You may want to consult our Visiting Walt Disney World During Storm Season article to navigate the afternoon showers (or worse) without them putting too much of a damper on your trip. Things get better towards the end of the month both in terms of humidity and storms, so your best bet is definitely to hold off on visiting until later in the month if you can.
WDW Seasonal Events in September 2020
To answer a common question: yes, you will see Halloween decorations if you visit Walt Disney World in September. Any day in September (this year decorations start going up in August). Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is offered throughout September, and most of the best dates for attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are in September.
It’s a really fun hard-ticketed event that we fully believe is worth doing at least once. If you’re considering attending and want to know whether it’s worth it or you’ve already decided to attend and want some tips and strategy for the party, read our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide.
September 2020 also brings with it the first full month of Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. This event is a great way to graze and sample different cuisines, or attend instructive seminars, or other foodie special events. It’s also a great way to lighten your wallet, as it is very easy to spend a lot of money at Food & Wine Festival on these small samples.
Especially if you buy booze: not only can you spend a lot on the drinks, but the drinks might cause you to relax your credit card swiping hand and use it more freely on snacks. Not that we know from experience or anything. Check out our 2020 Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival Guide for more tips and tricks for this event.
SEPTEMBER 2020 REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
For an idea of what’s going to be closed in September 2020, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Not everything will be listed on that until later this summer. Even once that’s updated, it doesn’t fully cover the construction all around Walt Disney World–just ride and entertainment closures.
The construction project that will have the most noticeable impact on the guest experience is the massive reimagining at the front of Epcot, which will eliminate Future World and replace it with 3 new neighborhoods. This has already kicked into high gear, and will continue to gain momentum in Summer 2020 with more work.
This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 2020 or 2021? in a dedicated post. For most people, the answer will be yes, but it’s still worth going in with a realistic view of just how bad construction will be.
Epcot’s silver lining is that three new films and two new restaurants will debut prior to Fall 2020. Additionally, a huge expansion to the France pavilion that includes the family-friendly trackless dark ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, opens in “Summer 2020.” Barring a delay, it’ll be open well before September.
Outside of Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has two attractions that will still be fairly new come Fall 2020. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens this spring, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted late last year. The latter is literally the best Walt Disney World attraction in decades–better than Avatar Flight of Passage.
SEPTEMBER 2020 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
There’s no color-coded September 2020 crowd calendar for Walt Disney World at the top of this section because that’s reductionist and doesn’t give you the full picture of Walt Disney World attendance trends. WDW crowd calendars are less reliable due to how Disney manipulates attendance patterns, staffing, closures, and ride capacity. We think it’s better to offer an explanation of what to expect crowd-wise this fall at Walt Disney World.
Since Disney doesn’t release official attendance numbers, crowd calendars use things like school schedules, airport traffic statistics, hotel pricing & occupancy, etc., as proxies for crowds. For years, this approach worked and made crowd calendars reliable. Walt Disney World attendance followed an identifiable pattern that tracked with the aforementioned proxies.
Unfortunately, wait times no longer reflect actual crowds because of the aforementioned manipulation. We can still forecast attendance, but not the resulting wait times. This is like the difference between the actual temperature and the “feels like” temperature, but with crowds. The latter are what most of you likely care about (the “feels like” crowds), but it’s more difficult to predict wait times via Walt Disney World crowd calendars. Hopefully that makes sense!
On the Walt Disney World crowd calendar, September 2020 is the best month of the year to visit. Literally the entire month sees below average crowds. Even Labor Day (September 7, 2020) draws far smaller crowds than most other holidays.
There’s really no bad time to visit as far as the September 2020 crowd calendar goes. The first weekend (starting September 4, 2020) and the last week (September 26, 2020 to October 2, 2020) will be the two busiest weeks. However, “busiest” is a relative term, as even those should be really light compared to the entirety of October 2020 or August 2020.
The time in between, which encompasses pretty much all dates from September 9 to 25, 2020 will feature the lowest crowds of the year at Walt Disney World. In terms of the crowd calendar, this is one of the last bastions of the off-season at Walt Disney World.
One thing to watch for is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and 2020 Epcot Food & Wine Festival dates, which Walt Disney World has yet to release. These will impact the September 2020 crowd calendar, but that is primarily at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Expect Epcot to be considerably more busy on weekends, particularly when local colleges like UCF have away football games. Epcot’s attendance will be lightest on weekdays during the day, with heavier crowds after work as locals turn out to graze at the Food & Wine booths. (This is something that is tough to convey via a traditional numerical crowd calendar for Walt Disney World.)
Similarly, Magic Kingdom is less busy on days with MNSSHP in the evening and more busy on days the Halloween Party is not occurring. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s because the party is separately-ticketed, which causes Magic Kingdom closes early on MNSSHP nights.
This causes many guests to avoid Magic Kingdom on days with shorter hours, which means lighter crowds before the party. Guests instead flock to non-party days in Magic Kingdom. Avoid Saturdays in Magic Kingdom and any days that are in between two or more Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights.
If you have a Park Hopper ticket, we’d advise visiting Magic Kingdom during the day on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights, and then bouncing to another park at around 4 pm. Again, this is something that can’t be reflected on a traditional crowd calendar (which should help demonstrate our aversion to numerical/color-coded Walt Disney World crowd calendars).
With all of that said, both of these events will have minimal impact on overall crowd levels at Walt Disney World, and both are easy enough to plan around. (Additionally, avoid Disney Springs on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights–guests who don’t plan around park hours and are “kicked out” early disproportionately visit Disney Springs after leaving Magic Kingdom.)
SEPTEMBER 2020 PRICING & DISCOUNTS
Since it is the off-season, September is also a great month to visit in terms of both pricing and potential discounts. You can check available discounts via Disney here. Disney isn’t the only place where September is the off-season, so expect cheaper airfare when traveling in September–make sure to visit ITA Software to search for the best prices.
Typically, the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion is offered in September. Limited dates for September 2020 have already been released, but only for the beginning of the month. However, we’d expect a second wave to cover most (if not all) of the remaining dates in September 2020.
It’s not for everyone, but you’ll definitely want to check out the Free Dining promo if you’re visiting in September, as it can be a great deal for some visitors! Walt Disney World uses this promotion to entice guests to visit during certain low-season periods to redistribute crowd patterns, so the fact that there are usually no blockout dates at all during September should speak volumes about the crowd levels.
What this does mean, however, is that hotel and restaurant bookings will be disproportionately high during September, so you may have a difficult time scoring an elusive ADR, such as for Be Our Guest Restaurant or Chef Mickey’s. The good news is that while restaurants are more crowded than normal, attractions are less crowded.
Room-only discounts are also common in September. If you’re visiting in September, expect discounts up to 30% off the already lower off-season rates at the official Walt Disney World resort-hotels. Discounts vary by tier and individual hotel, with some hotels excluded entirely.
Our picks for the best resorts for a room-only discount are Art of Animation in the Value tier, Port Orleans Riverside in the Moderate tier, and Wilderness Lodge in the Deluxe tier. This is based partly on percentage off, partly on typical rack rate at each of these hotels, and partly on our personal preferences as to which offer the best theming and value for money. You can decide for yourself which hotel might be best by reading our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews.
Overall, September is a one of the top months of the year to visit Walt Disney World, and we’d encourage you to visit if you can handle the heat and humidity. If you need to convince a spouse to make a spontaneous getaway, there’s really no better argument that I can think of than “that one dude on the internet said we should!”
In fact, mid-September into the beginning of October remains one of our favorite times of the year for our personal visits to Walt Disney World. Before we were locals, we took trips during this time for 4 consecutive years, as those low crowds were too much to resist. Like a fine wine, September gets better as it “ages” with the best times to visit being towards the end of the month, mainly due to better weather.
Are you a fan of visiting Walt Disney World in September? Have you found the crowds to be light? Is the weather this month bearable to you? Are you planning on visiting in September 2020 or is the potential for a hurricane too much of a gamble for you? If September is not your preferred month to visit Walt Disney World, which month do you like? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!