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The Very Best Times to Visit Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022

by Leap on April 1, 2021 1663 Orlando

This is what Universal Orlando Resort trip planning sounds like around the Frog Pond:

"We have to do Forbidden Journey first."

"Are you crazy? Escape from Gringotts!"

"I was thinking of splashing into the pool at Cabana Bay Beach Resort right after we check in."

Yes. Even us savvy trip planners can get hung up on how to tackle a Universal Orlando vacation. One of the few things we can agree on is WHEN to visit. Crowd levels have a big impact on everyone's theme park vacation. This post outlines the very best times to visit Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022. It also outlines the more crowded times to visit. The year 2020 brought more challenges than most with COVID-19, and now there is even more criteria when deciding the best time to visit Universal Orlando.

Universal is limiting park attendance and has introduced health and safety measures to help keep everyone safe. You can read more about what to expect if you visit Universal Orlando now. We understand that visiting the parks now isn't for everyone, and you have to make the call on what is best for your family.

While we have no crystal ball on when things will return to normal, as vaccination rollouts continue across the US, more and more guests are making their way back to the action. After a strong spring break season, where the parks hit capacity most days, we're expecting a busy summer too, especially with the launch of the epic new VelociCoaster. With the long-awaited return of Halloween Horror Nights this fall, we expect summer's momentum to swing all the way through the new year. While we think things will continue to pick up, there will still be some times when crowds are lower. We're here to give you our best guesses on crowd levels based on our years of data collection and insights. We'll dive into the trends for the rest of this year below.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando - Gringotts

The Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022

As we've said before with visiting Disney World, there's never a bad time to visit Universal Orlando. The Frog Family has hopped down during every season and successfully managed the crowds. We stick with our basic plan — get to the park at opening, take breaks in the afternoon when the parks are at their busiest, make use of our park plans and Orlando park plans app, and use Universal Express. For those of you who can, we highly recommend visiting the parks on weekdays, especially during peak times such as summer.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2019 - Loews Portofino Bay Resort

We also highly recommend you consider staying on-site at one of Universal’s official hotels that offer Universal Express Unlimited  basically unlimited skip-the-line access on most rides at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The Universal hotels that offer the benefit are Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. This skip-the-regular line benefit is a big help for saving time in the parks, especially if you are visiting on weekends. All Universal Orlando Resort hotels offer Early Park Admission, which is also a super hopful tool to get a jump on your day.

While crowds are currently lower, largely because of caps on attendance to better maintain social distancing, they have picked up considerably since the early days of reopening. Keep in mind that the parks have and do hit capacity during peak times, even though a reservation system is not in place. We cannot emphasize enough just how much we recommend getting to the parks early! For even more tips for visiting Universal during a peak time, hop over to our full post.

In addition to hitting capacity in the parks themselves, there have been several days this spring where ticket sales have hit capacity — meaning Universal has sold out for specific dates. The sooner you can purchase your tickets, the better chance you'll have at selecting your desired dates (and the more hotel availability you'll find!). Planning ahead is the name of the game — and you've already taken the first step by reading this post :)

Determining the Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022

People on RipRide Rockit Coaster

Before booking your vacation to Universal on our site, we recommend you check our Crowd Calendar. You can get a view of the crowd levels by day, month or the whole year. You'll also find individual park recommendations so you can easily see at a glance the best time to visit Universal Orlando.

There's no denying there are better times to visit Universal Orlando than others. It should come as no surprise that the best time to visit Universal Orlando usually falls along school schedules. Generally, when the tadpoles are out of school, there are higher crowds at Universal. This applies to one-day holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, a weeklong spring break or the big draw — summer vacation.

Special events should also be a consideration in deciding the best time to visit, and they are also displayed on the crowd calendar. For example, Halloween Horror Nights can scare up a good crowd (yes, I went there). Even Universal's scaled-back Halloween event last year, featuring two haunted houses, was enough to bring out more visitors. 

VelociCoaster Ride Vehicles

Big openings, like we had in June 2019 with Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, can also bring big crowds who want to be among the first to experience the magic. Even openings at other resorts, such as Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney World, have some trickle-over effect. The opening of this new land in a galaxy (and resort), OK, not so far, far away no doubt has brought additional visitors to Universal. I mean, if you are already coming to Orlando for Star Wars, why not experience the Wizarding World too? This same trickle may happen with Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration, which kicks off Oct. 1, 2021, and will run for 18 months.

While understandably there are still reasons for more uncertainty this year, know that ride and land openings do influence crowds. The big opening for 2021 is Universal's Jurassic World VelociCoaster, launching June 10, 2021.

So When Is the Best Time to Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022?

The very best times to visit Universal Orlando in 2021 are ...

  • Jan. 4-14, Jan. 25 - Feb. 12
  • Feb. 22 - March 5
  • The second half of August
  • Most days in September (minus Fridays with Halloween Horror Nights)
  • Most weekdays in October (minus Fridays with Halloween Horror Nights)
  • Weekdays in November (minus the week of Thanksgiving)
  • Weekdays in December (minus the week of Christmas and New Year's Eve)

The very best times to visit Universal Orlando in 2022 are ...

  • Jan. 5-13
  • Jan 24 - Feb. 17
  • Feb. 28 - March 4
  • The last week of April
  • Weekdays in the first half of May
  • The second half of August
  • Most days in September
  • Most weekdays in October
  • Weekdays in November (minus the week of Thanksgiving)
  • Weekdays in December (minus the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Eve)

Historically, September has been the very best month of the year to visit Universal Orlando in terms of crowds because the kids have just returned to school. It is still our pick for the best month to visit. The popularity of Halloween Horror Nights, however, has brought in more crowds, and the event regularly sells out. If you're visiting the resort for that time, and specifically for that event, make sure you purchase your tickets first and book your hotel early. Those weekends could see more guests who come in for the event and spend their daytime hours inside the parks.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2019 - Incredible Hulk Coaster

Keep in mind that September is the height of Orlando's rainy season. You should prepare for daily afternoon thunderstorms and possibly more rain than that. Come prepared with ponchos. With those caveats out of the way, we still feel that fall is a good time to visit Universal Orlando.

The Most Crowded Time to Visit Universal Orlando

The worst times to visit Universal Orlando in 2021 are ...

  • Jan. 1-3, Jan. 15-24
  • Feb. 13-21
  • March 6 - April 11*
  • Weekends in May
  • June
  • July
  • The first half of August
  • The week of Thanksgiving
  • The week of Christmas through the week of New Year

The worst times to visit Universal Orlando in 2022 are ...

  • Jan. 1-4, Jan. 15-18
  • Feb. 19-27
  • March 5 - April 24*
  • Weekends in May
  • June
  • July
  • The first half of August
  • The week of Thanksgiving
  • The week of Christmas through the week of New Year

*The big variable for spring is when Easter falls. When it's earlier in the season, there is generally a shorter, more intense "spring break" as school districts narrow down the week they give kids off. When it's later in spring, there is generally a longer but less intense "spring break" season as school districts have more variance in the week they give kids off. In 2021, Easter fell on April 4, making it a shorter season than 2022, when it falls on April 17. These are still more spread out and less intense than when Easter lands in March.

Holiday Crowds at Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022

Holidays bring crowds, and for good reasons. People are off from work and want to enjoy their time in the parks. Many families make it a tradition to gather at Universal Orlando to celebrate everything from Easter to Thanksgiving. Universal Orlando Resort has festive and frightening holiday events.

We've already mentioned the impact of crowds from Halloween Horror Nights. Christmas has also become a bigger deal at Universal Orlando than in past years with the arrival of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Muggles and wizards alike are flocking to the parks to enjoy the holiday decorations, entertainment and food in Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.

Universal Orlando's Most Crowded Holidays

  • New Year's Day - Jan. 1
  • Easter - April 4, 2021, and April 17, 2022
  • Independence Day - July 4
  • Thanksgiving -  Nov. 25, 2021, and Nov. 24, 2022
  • Christmas Eve - Dec. 24
  • Christmas - Dec. 25
  • New Year's Eve - Dec. 31

Best Holidays to Visit Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022

Stock up on those precious personal days and consider visiting on these less crowded holidays. It will still be busy, but not as noticeable as Christmas. Do keep in mind that for 2021, we expect these dates to be busier than normal because of pent-up travel demand after COVID-19, especially if the vaccine rollout remains on schedule.

  • Labor Day - Sept. 6, 2021, and Sept. 5, 2022
  • Columbus Day - Oct. 11, 2021, and Oct. 10, 2022
  • Veterans Day (and Veterans Day Observed) - Nov. 11, 2021, and Nov. 11, 2022

Now you know the best time to visit Universal Orlando in 2021 and 2022. Wondering how crowds will be during your trip? Check out our Crowd Calendar. You'll find more resources to help you plan your Universal Orlando vacation on our When to Visit Orlando page inside the Orlando Planning Timeline!

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
View Comments
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1–50 of 1400 comments
May 4, 2021 at 12:34 p.m. Says...

Are love bugs at universal on Mat 4, 2021. Will they be tghete 5/9-5/15 2021

Reply
May 4, 2021 at 8:55 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

The love bugs have not arrived quite yet, but we're expecting them soon, as they usually emerge in late April/May (and late August/September).

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 3, 2021 at 11:26 p.m. Chantel Says...

Hello me and my family are traveling May 21st- May 27th. We want to possibly do Universal Studios May 25th which falls on a Tuesday. Do you think the crowds will be high on that day? Or will the crowds be high this week period? Thank you

Reply
May 5, 2021 at 8:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Chantel,

Since it's the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, there may be elevated crowds (according to our Crowd Calendar, we're expecting a crowd level 6), but the bulk of the crowds will likely arrive closer to the weekend.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 17, 2021 at 10:54 p.m. Laurel C Says...

We are staying at Cabana Bay May 8-12. We are only planning on staying at the hotel and using the pools. Do you think the crowds from SB will die down by then?

Reply
Apr 19, 2021 at 10:21 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Laurel,

Yes, early May is generally a good time to go, especially during the weekdays, as most spring breaks have passed but it's still before summer vacations start.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 29, 2021 at 6:47 p.m. tara kendrick Says...

I am going June 9-11 to Universal Studios parks this year. Do you think the crowd calendar is accurate, or do you think it will be worse based on everyone wanting to travel right now?

Reply
Mar 29, 2021 at 3:04 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tara!

We think level 6 for weekdays and more like a 7 on the weekend for that timeframe is accurate - just after that, we think things will pick up for summer break. Hope this helps!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 28, 2021 at 10:34 p.m. April Says...

Hi there! We want to visit universal in May but I'm torn as to whether or not we should buy the express pass. If they are still limiting capacity, do you think the express pass is worth it right now? It's more expensive than our actual tickets!

Reply
Mar 29, 2021 at 3:17 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi April!

If you can swing it, especially if you'll be visiting in the last two weeks of the month or on a weekend, we'd swing for Express. Have a great time!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 2, 2021 at 10:39 a.m. StevePaigeHaz Says...

Hi. We welcoming at booking 29th April through to 13th May, universal sea world and busch gardens.

What can I expect the crowds to be like at this time?

We are staying on international drive so won't have express passes.

TYIA for the reply :)

Reply
Mar 2, 2021 at 9:39 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

Crowds should be manageable for most of your trip, especially on weekdays, which are at 4s and 5s mostly. If possible, we'd plan your downtime days on the weekends, when things will be at their busiest. You can see a day by day projection on our Crowd Calendar here (including our recommended parks and park hours!). Hope this helps - enjoy your vacation! :)

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Feb 21, 2021 at 4:20 p.m. Julia Says...

Hey!

I'm from Europe and don't know the holidays in the U.S.

Why is mid February / second half of Feburary a bad time to visit Universal Studios? Is there any Holiday?

Thank you for your respond :-)

Reply
Feb 22, 2021 at 8:22 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Julia!

That's exactly right - there's a holiday! Valentine's Day can bring in more crowds for that day/weekend - in 2022, it falls on a Monday, so we'd expect the weekend prior and the Monday of to be a little busier. However, Presidents' Day weekend in the US is a holiday that schools honor, giving them an additional Monday off on Feb. 21, 2021. That weekend, including the official holiday on Monday, will bring in additional crowds that may stay throughout the week. Hope this helps!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 29, 2021 at 12:51 a.m. Stephanie Wilson Says...

My son is a type 1 diabetic and we were able to snag a Black Friday deal which is an insanely good bargain for the whole package that we got normally it would cost around $5,000 or more for the package that we got but my concern is we're going March 14th through the 18th this year 2021 and like I said he's a type 1 diabetic I know we can't live under a rock forever and we're really good about sanitizing washing her hands and masks do you think we'll be okay still going

Reply
Jan 29, 2021 at 9:41 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Stephanie,

While we personally have felt safe while visiting Universal, it’s ultimately up to your family’s own needs and comfort level. Universal has implemented physical distancing in lines, a mandatory mask policy and ways to reduce contact points (such as mobile food ordering). If you want to read more about our experiences, we’ve written a separate post about what it’s like to visit the parks during this time, which may help you as you make your final decision. It’s important to note that March 15-19 will be spring break for the local public school systems. Universal is still limiting capacity, but there will likely be higher crowds during that time.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 26, 2021 at 11:47 p.m. Joanne Dunn Says...

Is October busy in water parks

Reply
Jan 27, 2021 at 7:56 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Joanne,

Overall, we think October is a great time to go to the water parks. It is typically less crowded than the summer months, as October has low to moderate crowd levels in general. As for the weather, it can be unpredictable since October is at the end of Florida's rainy season, but it should still be warm enough (plus the pools are heated) — something we always consider in addition to crowd levels.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 21, 2021 at 5:29 p.m. Kathryn Says...

Do Universal Orlando resort guests get priority to enter the parks? If so, can those guests leave a park and return within the same day? I have heard that ticket holders (non-resort guests) have been turned away in some instances when the parks are at capacity and that returning guests who, for example, go back to their resort room to nap and later return to the park, aren't guaranteed re-entry due to capacity constraints.

Reply
Jan 21, 2021 at 1:31 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kathryn!

When Universal first reopened, Universal hotel guests were guaranteed entry - however, as things have gotten busier, this policy has changed, and Universal hotel guests are no longer guaranteed entry. That said, Universal hotel guests ARE priority guests, which means that if the parks do hit capacity, hotel guests should be among the first let in once the parks reopen. Hope this helps!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 15, 2021 at 10:07 p.m. Larod Says...

Planning a universal trip April of 2022. I saw what you said about shorter and more spread out spring break. Planning to stay at the Hard Rock April 12-16. With the unlimited fast pass will we be ok crowd wise seeing that Easter is a little later in 2022?

Thanks Larod

Reply
Jan 19, 2021 at 9:34 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Larod!

Spring Break for Orange & Osceola County schools in 2022 will be March 14-18, so you won’t have to worry about your trip coinciding with local schools’ spring breaks. Florida college spring breaks are also usually at the beginning of March. However, since it's close to Easter, you may run into some crowds (some schools may also have Holy Thursday and/or Good Friday off prior to Easter Sunday). Even so, we think that having Express Unlimited, plus Early Park Admission, should help you manage!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Dec 4, 2020 at 2:48 a.m. Steve Lebo Says...

I am torn… I booked a trip to universal staying at the hard rock for December 20 through the 26th. I initially thought not many people would want to go during Covid. I am seeing large crowds… Can anyone give me some insight into what they think the crowds will be like in a few weeks? I have a 10-year-old and a 12 year old and I’m concerned about social distancing and people wearing masks. Also general safety of myself… I am in a high-risk category thank you for any and all feedback and input.

Reply
Dec 2, 2020 at 5:23 p.m. GIJoey11 Says...

Thank you guys so much for keeping us informed and updated. Although we are anxious to visit Universal Orlando as a family for the first time, we are patient and can wait :) :) :) We will be able to plan much better thx to your blog :)

Reply
Nov 1, 2020 at 2:31 a.m. Shane M Says...

We’re just wrapping up an Orlando trip, and you can definitely tell the difference between weekend and weekday visits. I normally come down around this time anyways, but given with everything going on, this has been an extremely easy trip in terms of crowd levels at both Universal and Disney.

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 8:11 p.m. Jessica Rademacher Says...

Thank you for all your wonderful information and tips and tricks!!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 5:56 p.m. Lucchox Says...

My best travel was in 2012, I get for free the meet plan for all my family and 1 night free only getting 3 and 2 days tickets

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 4:18 p.m. Renee T Says...

We always check your blog when planning a visit to universal Orlando to plan a great family vacation. Thanks for sharing all the tips.

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 4:14 p.m. Pam Says...

Can’t wait to visit!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 1:24 p.m. SuzEpp Says...

Undercover Tourist has great info and prices. Thank you.

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 1:12 p.m. Kimberly Anderson Says...

I have bought tickets from you in the past and will certainly do so again but it would be nice to win a free trip so thank you for the opportunity

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 12:49 p.m. Terri Bollin Says...

Thanks for the chance. I would love to win an go on a great family vacation because 2020 has been a horrible year for everyone!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 6:50 a.m. BW Says...

Mardi Gras!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 4:36 a.m. Alicia T. Says...

Great resource for planning my trip. Love undercovertourist.com!!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 4:04 a.m. kathleen m hummitsch Says...

have had to postpone our universal vaca two years in a row now! have to go in 2021 if it kills us!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 2:45 a.m. Luanne Says...

I'm hoping the fact that a number of Universal hotels staying closed until 2021 makes the crowds more manageable. That's a lot fewer guests being able to advantage of early access right? Or is this wishful thinking?

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 2:44 a.m. Lisa Boggess Says...

I would love to go back to Universal. We just went to Disney and Universal in August (bought through undercover tourist and would again), first time for universal, 2nd time for Disney. First trip was 11 years ago. Loved it even with all the restrictions.

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 2:42 a.m. Annemarie Says...

Love Universal and Undercover Tourist! ❤️

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 1:18 a.m. Ashley Ocasio Says...

Loved Orlando Parks!!

Reply
Oct 31, 2020 at 1:01 a.m. Alster Says...

Love this!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 10:52 p.m. Jbark Says...

Any time is the best time!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 8:11 p.m. Rocío Duharte Says...

Hope we win this!!!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 7:54 p.m. Nidhi C Says...

Visiting universal Orlando makes perfect family vacation. Thanks for sharing all the tips.

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 6:21 p.m. karen mead Says...

This is such a great resource, thank you.

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 6:19 p.m. Julia Chambers Says...

Great company, easy to work with.

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 6:06 p.m. Doug_16 Says...

Thank you Underground Tourist for the Vance to win a trip to Universal Orlando. We love Universal and We love Underground Tourist!!!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 5:54 p.m. Piper Lang Says...

Pick me! pick me! I LOVE all things Disney and Universal Orlando ❤️

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 5:42 p.m. PattiL Says...

I haven’t been to Universal Orlando. I would LOVE to see, hear, ride, eat and experience everything!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 4:29 p.m. Marissa Says...

I stayed at the Portafino Hotel and loved it!! Highly recommend!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 3:52 p.m. Carissa Says...

Your information is always helpful.

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 3:42 p.m. Pearly Says...

Week days in December is. Perfect ????

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 3:14 p.m. Desirae Says...

Hoping to use these helpful tips soon!!!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 3:13 p.m. BekkyK Says...

I am dying to take my family to Orlando parks, we have been saving for my whole life to be able to visit Disney and Universal theme parks as a family.

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 3:04 p.m. Nichole Wagner Says...

So bummed that I didn't go right when they opened!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 2:58 p.m. Jackie R Says...

LOVE Visiting in October over our kid's fall break! We are pretty much a walk on most rides during the week but just as the article said, Fridays and Saturdays are much busier so we save those days for lollygaggin' :P

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 2:41 p.m. Melissa G Says...

Is there ever a bad time to visit Universal?

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 1:36 p.m. Ashley Pelletier Says...

Going next year 2021!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. Says...

Can't wait to visit again!

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 7:37 a.m. Josan Says...

Best time is mid sept, great weather and affordable lines

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 7:32 a.m. Michelle Bush Says...

Lot's of great info here. Can't wait to get back to the Parks.

Reply
Oct 30, 2020 at 6:50 a.m. djazgirl Says...

We used your site last year to go to Universal. So VERY helpful! Thank you so much.

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