September 2023 at Disney World: Crowd Calendar & Info
Our guide to September 2023 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.
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 crowds arrive towards the end of the month for the start of convention and group events seasons, plus early fall breaks. The September 2023 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 2023 at WDW…
September 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. In recent years, Hurricanes Dorian and Irma have caused the parks to close.
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
To answer a common question: yes, you will see Halloween decorations if you visit Walt Disney World in September. Any day in September. However, the only park that gets decked out for Halloween is Magic Kingdom, and that’s true in any year, not just 2023.
It’s highly likely that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will once again return in 2023. Typically, the first party night occurs on the second Friday of August and starts happening with increasing frequency come September. By mid-month, Magic Kingdom is closing early for MNSSHP a few nights per week.
Another event that’ll occur throughout September 2023 is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This 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 Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival Guide for more tips and tricks for this event.
SEPTEMBER REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
For an idea of what’s going to be closed in September 2023, 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. This is starting to look better, but the front of the park is still a sea of construction walls with a giant dirt pit in the middle. On the plus side, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220 Restaurant, Creations Shop, Club Cool, and Connections Cafe are all open.
Speaking of the front of the park, Walt Disney World’s biggest addition to Epcot in decades is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Experiencing the new ride is a bit complicated, so be sure to check out our How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Speed Strategy to improve your chances of success for joining the free virtual queue. (Note: this virtual queue will probably be retired by some point prior to September 2023.)
Another alternative is buying line-skipping access via the Individual Lightning Lanes. Those posts explain each option, their pros & cons, and everything else you need to know. Suffice to say, do not just show up to EPCOT expecting to join the standby line–as there isn’t one.
Then there’s the next big addition to Walt Disney World: TRON Lightcycle Run. Walt Disney World has already revealed that this will debut in Spring 2023, which means it’ll be several months old by (early) Fall 2023. Our expectation at this point is that the ride will open in March 2023, and if so, it might even drop its virtual queue by August 2023!
Beyond that, there are several attractions that have not yet opened and likely won’t until later in Fall 2023. This includes Moana’s Journey of Water at Epcot, which is likely to open in the second half of the year according to Disney. (Judging by the current pace of work and the fact that it’s a water walk-through, it debuting in late summer is possible.) Other smaller scale additions are likely later in 2023.
Don’t expect anything new in September 2023. It’s entirely unprecedented for Walt Disney World to open new things as summer season winds down. New additions typically debut prior to Spring Break/Easter, between Memorial Day and Independence Day, and between October 1 and mid-December. Only very small scale additions and entertainment tend to open outside those timeframes.
SEPTEMBER 2023 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
There’s no color-coded September 2023 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. 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 2023 is the best month of the year to visit. Literally the entire month sees below average crowds. Even Labor Day (September 4, 2023) draws far smaller crowds than most other holidays.
At the beginning of the month, there are also some residual crowds from summer as a handful of school districts around the country start late. Additionally, Annual Passholder blockouts in summer can push some of that demand to late August and early September.
There’s really no bad time to visit as far as the September 2023 crowd calendar goes. The first weekend and the last week 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 2023 or August 2023.
The time in between, which encompasses all dates from September 5 to 22, 2023 will feature some of 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. Average weekly crowd levels will be 1/10 to 3/10 during this date range.
This is the reason that we named September 2023 the #1 month to visit in our Best & Worst 2023 Months to Visit Walt Disney World because of how predictably uncrowded it is. Whereas other off-season months have gotten busier, September has stayed the same–and (knock on wood) always should remain that way due to school schedules and less desirable weather.
If you’re purely concerned about crowds, we’d recommend going from September 5-14, 2023 for the absolute best/lowest crowd levels. Rosh Hashanah is on September 16, 2023 and that holiday weekend will see a slight spike as a result. Typically, crowd levels are still under 5/10, but we’ve had readers report higher “feels like” crowds.
That’s in large part because their baseline is the weekdays before that, which are often 1/10. Relative to those, 5/10 crowd levels feel like a colossal spike, even if they’re entirely average. Weekdays starting September 18, 2023 might be slightly busier, but we’re still talking 3/10 territory. September is not a busy time to visit.
Crowds do pick up the closer you get to October. This is largely due to conventions and other group events, plus fall breaks for various school districts around the country. Some schools also do fall breaks around the last weekend of the month (roughly September 29, 2023 to October 2, 2023), so expect higher crowd levels then, too.
Still, busier is a relative term. The last week of September 2023 will be worse than the rest of the month. However, if crowd levels hit 4/10, that’s technically true as the first three weeks will have crowd levels below that. That’s exactly what we’re predicting–crowd levels averaging out at 4/10 or possibly 5/10 in the last week of the month, but with a wider range for Magic Kingdom (see below).
For Magic Kingdom, there’s an added wrinkle to the crowd calendar: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). On nights this event is held, the park closes to regular ticket holders at 6 pm. Consequently, Magic Kingdom is less busy during the day time hours on dates when MNSSHP is held, and more busy on days the Halloween event is not occurring.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s because the party is separately-ticketed. Typically, the biggest impact is felt closer to Halloween, so the phenomenon isn’t bad at all in September.
We’ve reported on this phenomenon in past years at length, seeing this play out every single day of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party season, as discussed in Magic Kingdom’s Third Slowest Day of the Year!
The title pretty much says it all, but the photos in the post and commentary explains just how uncrowded Magic Kingdom has been during the daytime hours before MNSSHP. Typically, Halloween party days have ranged from 1/10 to 2/10 on the crowd calendar. That’s pretty normal for September party days.
We’d strongly recommend 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. Animal Kingdom will always be your best option for lower-crowd evenings during the fall.
Typically, Saturdays are the worst of these days, so if you must do Magic Kingdom on a day when Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party isn’t happening, try to make it a weeknight. We’d expect non-party weekdays to have crowd levels of 5/10 to 7/10, perhaps hitting 8/10 or 9/10 on Saturdays later in the month. That should explain the greater range to Magic Kingdom crowd levels, as these days are a sharp contrast to the 1/10 and 2/10 party dates.
In addition to this, you can expect Epcot to be busier on weekends, particularly when local Florida colleges like UCF have away football games. However, this does not show up on crowd calendars, which measure wait times. (These locals cause congestion but typically don’t impact wait times.)
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.)
SEPTEMBER 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 the fall. However, it likely won’t be offered in September 2023, unless the Disney Dining Plan comes back ASAP. (Read our When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return? for further insight into when we expect Walt Disney World’s popular pre-paid meal plan to return.)
It’s not for everyone, but you’ll definitely want to check out the Free Dining promo if it’s offered during your vacation, 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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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 2023 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!
Do you feel the D23 crowds will affect the parks a lot the 8-10th? I’ve never been during the Expo.
These crowd calenders are incorrect. Disney was EXTREMELY busy this week. The park was packed and wait times were long.
Based on collected wait time data, no day this week has been above 4/10 on the crowd calendar. Most dates have been 2/10.
With the fact that Rosh Hashanah falls on a Monday this year, would you expect a crowd bump the weekend of September 24th-25th because some schools will be closed? Has this historically caused any increase in crowds on that Monday?
Hello! We are currently planning an impromptu trip to Disney world for next week! Do you think it’s necessary to get genie +. I plan on doing an ILL for ROTR and maybe a couple others.. but I’m not sure if we will need genie +. We went last September ( middle of the month) and did not miss fast passes at all. There was no need! This will be our first trip with genie + and lightning lanes.
Thanks for any advice!
Meredith, I wouldn’t get it. We did the last week of August last year and it was incredible! BUT! They required masks, delta variant had just came out, kids were going back to in person school for the first time in two years, and no international visitors yet. I’m sure this year it will be busier than last year, but not enough to justify genie in my opinion. If you look on Disneys website, most resorts are still available next week. Park availability is wide open (no parks fully booked). When I looked in Feb (which is supposed to be off season), I couldn’t find any reasonable resorts available until mid May! So the fact that so many are available just a week away says something. Plus, Disney+ days are the week after Labor Day, so folks might be waiting until then for perks in the parks. When we went, we literally walked on frozen and tower of terror three times in a row. FOP was only 20 minutes one time, less than 45 all other times. We got on ROR in 45 minutes. They let us stay on Thunder Mtn and ride it over and over, lol! I think the last week of Aug is a great time to go.
Hey Tom – I’m not sure if you did that on purpose, but the photo of the Italy booth at EPCOT immediately made me think of Josh (easywdw). Regardless, thanks for the tribute and to anyone not familiar, the Italy booth is infamous for having only the freshest ingredients and the best value. /sarc/
Hi! I’ve learned so much from reading your blog posts! Currently planning an early December trip and trying to think through Magic Kingdom plans on party vs non party days. If you go on a party day (but not doing the party), can you book a dining reservation, for say 5:45pm (assuming MK closes at 6pm to regular guests), so you can have dinner without cutting too much into your MK day and stay in the park a bit longer (and then of course, would leave once done with dinner)? Thank you!
I’m going to be in Orlando on a Father/Son trip Sept 15th-24th. First 3 nights at Universal, then Copper Creek the rest of the trip. Safe to say, you have made me excited about the crowds, especially for the Tuesday Magic Kingdom morning (MNSSHP night). I’ll be using your Amazon link to get a couple of Frog Toggs, as I remember using these back when I was a kid during the Summer, and I remember they work really well against humidity. Do you find it best to soak them in free Disney ice water? Thank you for providing such wonderful content every day.
Great info and advice as always! We just returned from a 6 day visit – the longest we have ever done – and it was fantastic. I can’t emphasize enough how much more relaxing it is to: a) follow your “go early and go late” strategy – we did a few hours bright and early, and then took the afternoons off to hang out at the pool or have a nap, read, and recharge – then back for a few hours in the evening feeling refreshed. We also missed the daily afternoon thunderstorm as we were generally back at our hotel when that passed through. b) have some flex time. The extra days did not cost that much more in terms of ticket price, and they allowed us to hit anything we missed or wanted to do again. Given the unpredictable weather in September I think a couple of flex days are a great idea – even if the parks are closed one or two days it will not ruin your holiday.
I’ll be at Disney from the 5th-13th and am excited for low crowds. I went in mid September last year and despite the heat, it was very pleasant! Invested in neck fans and the water backpacks you can sip from per Tom’s packing list. Great items. My biggest concern is that I am doing Universal the 13th-19th and every Universal resort is seemingly sold out. I have been monitoring and it just seems odd as aside from HHN, it should historically also be low crowds at Universal.
We are coming to Orlando this Sept and will do Disney parks the 11th thru 14th and then a day off, and then Universal the 16th and 17th. I had originally planned it for the last week of Sept but the Universal Royal Pacific (where we wanted to stay for location and free express passes) was strangely sold out for that week many many months ago, so we swapped to Sept 10-17 week. Looking forward to having a good time, my wife can’t wait for Epcot and those food booths. We plan to hit each park early, take a mid-day break and return for afternoon shows and a few more rides. We did Disneyland in Sept 2019 and had an amazing time, especially with 3 days to see DL and DCA, and the awesome MaxPass, hope Genie+ will be a help with DW, I sure have read enough of Tom’s posts to be ready. Thanks for the great blog Tom.
We just spent five days in the Disney Parks and three days on the Disney Wish!
Four adults and four youngsters, 17, 16, 13 and 8. They all had a ball, especially the 8 year old. Maw and Paw spent a lot of their retirement money, but hey, we were able to enjoy it with them! For you adults out there, it is very expensive, everything! Very crowded, during July and very hot. We where originally going the first of June, but the Wish wasn’t floating yet, so we chose July and did get 50% off our Cruise, that was very nice. All I can suggest is that you do your homework. You want to see what you can see, and not waste any time. Make reservations as soon as you can. Plan the rides you want to go on. We thought Universal Studios was the best of all the parks, would go back there. The wine and food festival is really not for the kids. Try and stay where you don’t have to take busses. We always get the ones farthest from the park. The new skyway is good, we stayed at the Royal Caribbean. The Wish was everything they talk about, wish we could have gone more then 3 days. They have a 4 day during the week. It’s still the place to go, but just a shame it cost so much, and smaller portions.
Do love bugs count as bad weather? That’s the only September negative that wasn’t mentioned. Or maybe I’m just old; is this month no longer fall love bug season?
September love bugs are pretty negligible everything except maybe Disney Springs. I don’t recall the last time I even saw one in a park at Walt Disney World during the fall.
(Now watch, this September will be the worst month for love bugs in decades!)
We had them on our last Sept trip in 2019. Couldn’t even use beach lounge chairs or balconies. However that didn’t impact anything else so I could deal with it.
Do you think that September resort discounts will still drop for Florida residents? Inventory looks low and it is very late historically speaking.
I’m still holding out a sliver of hope for a release in the next couple of weeks, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely between the late date and the level of bookings.
We have a trip booked in September. We came the last week of Aug in 2021 and it was magical! I don’t expect that kind of trip ever again. I’m talking walking on rides like Frozen, Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain not once, but multiple times in a row. They let us just stay on Thunder Mountain and keep riding until we were bored of it, lol! Delta variant, masks required, kids back in school (and in person for the first time since Covid), and no international visitors created that. This year, we arrive evening Sunday 4th of September since my daughter decided to take summer courses and the end of August cuts too close to her finals. But we didn’t want to do parks over Labor Day weekend. So our small window before my daughter starts up fall quarter is the week after Labor Day. I’m really nervous, as we have to go to Epcot on actual Labor Day. I would rather Epcot that day than any other park, but I’m still cringing at possible crowd levels. How bad do you think it will be? I saw your blog about it last year and it being surprisingly high. Extended hours are that day for deluxe resorts, I see. But MNNSHP is that night. Maybe afternoon not so bad? Your blog really helped my trip planning last year ☺️