Disney World in September is always a popular month for guests to visit as we start to see the Halloween decorations go up in the Magic Kingdom.
Everyone has personal preferences to consider when planning the date of their Walt Disney World trip- each season will have its pros and cons and guests' choices will vary based on those. Make sure to read our Walt Disney World crowd calendar to get an idea of what to expect when picking a date to visit Walt Disney World.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in September including current events, what weather to expect, crowd level predictions, and what to pack!
Disney World Events in September
Here are all the current events to know about impacting Disney World in September!
Fall Fun and Halloween
Despite the cancellation of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Disney is still going to decorate Magic Kingdom and celebrate one of the most popular holidays of the year with their guests from Sept. 15th to Oct. 31st. There will be Fall Fun seasonal offerings like decor, Halloween-themed cavalcade, themed treats, and costumes are welcome! You can read all about the new offerings including spooky treats, costumes guidelines, and merchandise offerings in our Disney World at Halloween guide.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
One of the most popular Epcot festivals, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, is still ongoing with it's unique combination of the Flower & Garden Festival details that were leftover from the Spring. You can read all about this delicious festival in our guide on Mickey Visit. You can expect to see a large variety of wine, international foods, culinary demonstrations, and other special themed events. Disney World has put their all into this event for the 2020 season since this is their main showstopper with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a hindrance on the typical Halloween season.
Reservations Required- Park Pass System
Advance reservations for park admission is required for Walt Disney World upon reopening as Disney navigates limited capacity restrictions to ensure a safe environment for guests and cast members.
How to Make a Reservation
- Link your park tickets/admission to your Disney account. You will need valid park admission to make a reservation.
- Create your party. Before you make a reservation, you'll be prompted to create a party from your Family & Friends list on your account. This ensures your group has the same reservations for your trip.
- Select a date and park. Choose the date and time you'd like to visit from the available reservations.
- Review and confirm your plans. You will also be prompted to agree to a COVID-19 liability waiver.
Important Details for Making Reservations
Everything looks a bit different right now for visiting Disney World so it's important to be aware of these new policies for the reservation system and the state of the parks when they open.
- Reservations are limited and subject to availability and are not guaranteed until a reservation is finalized.
- At this time, Guests will be able to select one park per day; visiting more than one park per day will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of the theme parks due to attendance limitations.
- Guests with existing tickets that include the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option have options available to them for ticket modifications and cancellations.
- A park reservation must be made for each day of entry. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit.
- It is highly recommend that you make your park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase, as availability can change until the reservation is finalized.
You can read more about how to make a reservation in our opening guide. You will NOT be able to enter the park without a theme park reservation.
New Safety Policies
It's crucial to be aware of the new health policies in place from required face coverings for guests to reduced capacity measures. Here are some highlights of the new policies to help you prepare:
- Certain Experiences Temporarily Suspended: Experiences that draw large group gatherings– such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. In addition, “high-touch” experiences such as makeover opportunities, playgrounds and character meet and greets will remain temporarily unavailable. Characters are still in the parks to greet guests from a distance.
- Reduced capacity: Walt Disney World has reduced guest capacity and an advanced reservation system in place to manage attendance. All guests are required to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance.
- Screening and prevention support: Guests 2 years of age and older and cast members are required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. All guests and cast members will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park.
- Physical distancing: Managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort.
- Mask Relief Areas: There are designated ‘guest relaxation' areas for guests to safely remove their masks and get a break from wearing them throughout the park.
- Reduced Operating Hours: Disney World has currently been operating with reduced hours and starting September 9th, the hours will shorten by at least one hour a day for most of the parks.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom- CANCELED FOR 2020
Unfortunately, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been cancelled for the 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's likely that Disney World will still decorate the Magic Kingdom for Halloween though even if we cannot enjoy the popular parties.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will take place on select nights in Magic Kingdom.
It's important to note that if you do not have a ticket to the party you will have to leave once the party starts! Make sure that you have a park hopper ticket so you are not left without somewhere else to go. If you plan on attending on one of the party nights then I recommend arriving as early as Disney World will let you in the park so you can get full access from your party ticket to the Magic Kingdom. Make sure to read our full guide to the Halloween party to find out about the special entertainment, trick or treat stations, attractions, and more! And as always, make sure to buy your tickets in advance to the party if you plan on attending!
Free Disney Dining Plan and Hotel Discounts
Currently, the Disney Dining Plan is suspended however you still find plenty of discounts this time of year at the Disney World Resort.
In the past September is the month that you see the Free Disney Dining Plan offered and discounts on hotel rooms! This promotion is used to entice guests to visit the resort during lesser attended times of the year.
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Disney World in September Crowd Calendar
Since Disney World is managing all theme park capacity with an advance reservation system, you don't have to worry about crowds this Fall. All of our well speculated crowd predictions have flown out the window with the current situation the world is dealing with right now. However, the crowds do tend to behave in a predictable manner at so far at Disney World we've seen that the first hour of the morning proves to show higher risk for bottlenecks in certain park areas and that Hollywood Studios remains the most popular since it holds all the newest attractions.
- Arrive later- this normally goes against all our Disney park advice but we're living in unusual times! There's no need to arrive early and rope drop with such limited crowd levels. If you show up at hour after the parks open you can miss getting caught up in early morning bottlenecks as guests first arrive. This is definitely personal preference though, with shorter hours guests might not be as keen to arrive later or waste any park time. But if you want to avoid people the best you can, skipping the first hour is best.
- Stay until closing- since many guests seem to be arriving right when the gates open, they end up leaving 1-2 hours before the parks officially close since wait times are so low you can get everything done before the end of the day quite easily. This is when you will see the absolute lowest wait times for rides that may be pushing that 30+ minute plus range which seems to only be an issue in Hollywood Studios.
- Be prepared for Hollywood Studios- since Disney's Hollywood Studios has Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Toy Story Land, and the newly opened Mickey's Runaway Railway attraction it is by far the theme park that feels the most crowded at the moment. The reason lies not in larger attendance than the other parks but smaller walkways and fewer hit attractions (plus lack of entertainment) to evenly disperse guests. Consider arriving later in the day and staying until close for this theme park.
Disney World is also shortening their hours starting September 9th for all four theme parks:
- Magic Kingdom: 9AM to 6PM (previously 9AM to7PM, now closing one hour earlier)
- EPCOT: 11AM to 7PM (previously 11AM to 9PM, now closing two hours earlier)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10AM to 7PM (previously 10AM to 8PM, now closing one hour earlier)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9AM to 5PM (previously 8AM to 6PM, now closing one hour earlier, and opening one hour later)
Based on Disney World's response to their hours of operation here, it's safe to assume that starting in September it's expected that Disney World is anticipating a lower demand.
For a typical September crowd predication, keep reading below to help you plan for the 2021 year…
Due to the popularity of the Halloween season at the Magic Kingdom, it's safe to say you can expect high crowd levels during this month but maybe not quite as high during October as it gets closer to the actual date of Halloween.
Guests visiting the Magic Kingdom in September also have the extra hurdle of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If you don't have a party ticket, you will be asked to leave the park around 5pm. It's important to plan ahead for those dates so you have a plan in place for once the party starts. In the past the first start of the day before the Halloween party is actually low in crowd levels as many party goers don't enter the parks until later in the day when their Halloween party ticket allows saving them the cost of a full day ticket. It can actually be a wise decision to start off the day early at the park hosting the Halloween party to beat some of those crowds.
At the very least, it's always best to prepare for crowds and be pleasantly surprised if it's slower than expected!
Disney World Weather in September
Disney World in September can actually be just as hot as days in the summer which can take many guests by surprise. The average high this time of year is 89 degrees and the average low at 74.
This is also in the middle of hurricane season in Florida so it's expected to see some rainfall during you visit. The good news is that the rain should clear up within a few hours.
Tips for Visiting Disney World in September
When it comes to visiting Disney World in September, we have some tried and true hacks for having a magical time on your vacation.
What to Wear
One of the most frequently asked guest questions is: what should I wear to Disney World? Always check the weather leading up to your trip. One big mistake guests can make this time of year is assuming that visiting during the Fall means the weather will be cooler. Not exactly the case, as you saw above when we looked at average high temperatures. Plan for hot weather and rain! Always carry a light poncho with you in the parks for those afternoon rain storms. Remember that most Disney World hotels are far from the parks themselves- you want to be prepared.
Tips for Wearing Masks Comfortably
Make sure to add masks for everyone in your group two years of age and older. Face coverings are required to enter Disney World and must be worn at all times except for dining. Here are some tips to try to prepare yourself for the mask requirement and help your family have a comfortable experience:
- Keep in mind that Disney does not allow: gaiters, bandannas, masks with valves or mesh holes of any kind.
- Masks must be worn at all times and if are removed for eating/drinking guests must remain stationary and socially distanced from other people.
- Practice wearing the masks outside for long periods of time to get your family used to them, especially for children.
- Try different masks to see what's most comfortable. Some people find the paper surgical masks more comfortable for the heat while others prefer the cloth masks.
- Bring enough masks for everyone in your group so you can easily wash the ones you've worn and switch them out throughout the day.
- Let your kids pick out fun Disney masks! And consider getting some fun Disney prints for yourself.
- Order your masks far in advance- many popular retailers have delayed shipping for masks right now.
- Consider looking on Etsy for faster shipping and cute Disney prints.
- If you normally wear a baseball hat, put pins (bonus for Disney ones!) on your hat to hook the loops for the mask on to take some of the pressure off your ears.
The biggest takeaway here is finding masks that are comfortable and safe to wear which often takes some trial and error. Order your masks in advance, practice wearing them for long periods of time, and have conversations with children about the importance of wearing them.
What to Pack
Considering the high average temperature for the month of September, plan on packing summer attire for the parks and the pool at your hotel.
Always bring the hot weather necessities like sunscreen, portable fans, cooling towels, and other items all aimed at keeping you cool on hot days. If you find yourself wanting one of these while you're there, you'll end up paying a high price in the parks or at your hotel. And if you're planning on hitting the beach, don't bother bringing towels and just use the ones from your hotel.
You can read our giant packing list here to make sure you show up prepared for literally anything you need while you're visiting Disney World.
What to Expect
There are a few things you should expect when choosing September as your month to visit Disney World:
- Rise of Resistance- there is a virtual queue in use for the popular Rise of Resistance attraction in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge where guests will have three chances throughout the day to secure a Boarding Group to ride. This ride is more popular than ever so be prepared so you don't miss out.
- New safety policies- temperature checks upon entry, face coverings required, social distancing in line queues, reduced dining capacity, and modified character experiences are all changes you can expect on your visit. You can read in full detail all about the new reopening safety procedures in our guide.
- Be Prepared for Halloween Themes at the Magic Kingdom- some guests don't realize how early Halloween season begins at Disney World. This can be a welcome surprise or not- depending on personal preference. If you're not a fan of Halloween, you may want to rethink visiting during this month as the Magic Kingdom begins kicking off the Halloween fun with themed deocr, food, and characters in costumes early in the month.
- Be prepared for hot weather- a common misconception about visiting Disney World in September is that the weather will be cooler. That's not the case as hot weather continues well into September and rain continues with the hurricane season. If you don't handle heat well, it's so necessary to wake up early and get to the parks at least 45 minutes before they open the gates. The hot weather won't really start making an impact until 11am-12pm depending on the day so getting there early will make all the difference. And like I said before, bring cooling towels, misting fans, and any other gear you like to have when it's hot. With some advance planning, you can handle the heat!
- Know the Halloween Party Dates (Cancelled for 2020)- being prepared for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is essential halfway in the month once the party dates begins. You should plan on park hopper tickets so you can hop over to the other theme parks when the party starts if you don't have a ticket. If you plan on attending, we recommend not buying a park ticket that day as your party ticket will allow you into the party!
But most of all, remember to enjoy your time at the most magical place on earth!
Plan Your Disney World Vacation!
Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know to prepare for a Disney Parks vacation! We have a team of writers working hard to keep you updated weekly on events in the parks and tips for navigating the magic. Subscribe to our free deals newsletter to receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:
- Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Guide
- Discount Disney World Tickets
- Ultimate Guide to Disney World Hotels
- Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
- Top Budget Disney World Hotels