Disney released its September 2012 operating schedule here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_sept.pdf. As usual, this is the “official” operating schedule that will be posted at DisneyWorld.com at some point in the next couple of weeks. It’s simply easier to modify and release a PDF file than it is to update the code at DisneyWorld.com.
This also gives us an idea about where Disney is headed with the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party schedule. You’ll notice the 7pm Magic Kingdom closes throughout the month that indicate a Mickey’s Party date. Note that these dates can change and the pattern most likely won’t continue into October. In 2011, the Party days in September and October were entirely different as Disney schedules more dates in October.
While September is historically the least crowded month of the year, the Electrical Parade/Wishes schedule still drives crowds more than anything else. We used to see great variability at Hollywood Studios when Fantasmic was scheduled less often, but that isn’t the case in 2012 with Fantasmic scheduled virtually every night. With discounting and the likelihood of another “Free Dining Promotion,” we can expect Disney owned resorts to be decently full. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s off-site occupancy that drives overall crowds. We can expect Disney resort occupancy to be in the 80%-82% range on 25,000-ish rooms as it has been over the past several years. That isn’t going to change. September is nice because off-site occupancy is so low. Even if it’s more crowded than it has been in previous years (as it will be), it’s still the least crowded month of the year with school in session and the oppressive heat/humidity. See you there ^_^