Disney released the September 2014 operating schedule yesterday at a new link: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_September.pdf. The calendar linked is exactly the same as what’s currently posted internally. Things are a little different this year. First of all, per Disney Parks Blog, the Food and Wine Festival starts a week earlier than usual, on Friday September 19th. A cast member “soft opening” is likely on Thursday the 18th. Expect the booths to open by noon on Thursday, but the Festival Center will remain closed and no Food/Wine events should be scheduled. An early start means heavier crowds on the weekends beginning the 19th, when Epcot is open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It also causes World Showcase to “feel” more crowded every other day of the week, both because the Festival pulls crowds into World Showcase and because there’s physically less space to move around with all the booths and lines. I’m not too ecstatic about an early start because September still sees highs in the 90s with lows that never dip below 70 degrees. Of course, it will be nice for those that are planning vacations that week and would like to take advantage of everything the Festival has to offer, perhaps for the first time.
It looks like Disney is going to extend Mickey’s Halloween Party into August with dates on Friday August 29th and Monday September 1st. Disney may be looking to capitalize on slightly heavier crowds over Labor Day Weekend. The Halloween Party dates are not official and the 7pm closes on those two dates could be due to something else. Either way, expect a 7pm close and no evening entertainment during regular hours on August 29th and September 1st. Night of Joy returns on September 5th and 6th, which is the reason for the 7pm closures on those dates.
Speaking of the Halloween Party, in past years, Disney has run just two Parties per week for most of September – one Party on Tuesday and another on Friday. This year, they’re adding Parties on Sunday September 14th and Sunday September 21st, so there will be three Halloween Parties those weeks. That means Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on three days per week with no evening entertainment during regular park hours. It also means Mondays during those weeks have evening Extra Magic Hours at both Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. That makes Epcot that much better of a Park to visit on Mondays and it should also help ease crowds at both Parks during the evening EMHs if you’re looking to Park Hop over. Magic Kingdom is always your best bet for an evening EMH due to the high number of attractions operating.
Otherwise, September remains the least crowded month of the year overall with September 2nd – 18th seeing the absolute lowest crowds of the year. Things pick up a bit after that, driven mostly by the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.