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Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2017 & 2018

by Leap on August 17, 2017 51 Orlando

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2017 & 2018 - Wizarding World - Diagon AlleyThis 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."

"If I may add my two croaks, I'd hit Ko'kiri Body Plunge first."

"Whaaaat?"

"It's as if you don't even know us."

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. While much of 2017 has passed, there are still prime times to visit Universal Orlando this year. At the same time, many of you have set your sights on a 2018 visit. This post outlines the very best times to visit Universal Orlando in 2017 and 2018. It also outlines the more crowded times to visit.

The Best Time To Visit Universal Orlando in 2017 & 2018

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 wait-time app and use Universal Express.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando 2017 & 2018 - Loews Portofino Bay Resort

We 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. For more reading, check out our guide on when to use Universal Express

Having a plan also helps manage crowds, which is why we've put all of our experience into these handy-dandy park plans. There's no magic to our methods (well ... snacks and caffeine help). Simply follow our advice and you'll find the crowds manageable even during the busy times.

We know that the word "crowds" can conjure up visions of hour-long waits for the popcorn cart. While that's a little extreme, there's no denying that there are better times to visit Universal Orlando than others. It should come as no surprise that the best time to visit Universal Orlando in 2017 and 2018 falls along school schedules. Generally, when the tadpoles will be out of school, there will be crowds at Universal. This is as true for a one-day holiday such as Martin Luther King Day as it is for a week-long spring break or the big draw—summer vacation. We won't judge you for pulling your kids out of school for a vacation (we have done it ourselves), but here are some things to consider.

Determining the Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2017

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 in 2017.

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). You might want to plan your visit around this event if you're into haunts, but be aware that it will bring in others as well.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2017 & 2018 - Universal's Volcano Bay - River

Another consideration is Universal's Volcano Bay. Universal's third theme park has splashed onto the scene, and many visitors are extending their trips to experience it. (Check out our complete guide to Volcano Bay if you're planning to visit.) And, yes, it will be open year round.

So When Is the Best Time to Universal Orlando in 2017 & 2018?

The very best times to visit Universal Orlando in 2017 are ...

  • The second half of August
  • Most weekdays 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 2018 are ...

  • Jan. 8-12, Jan. 17-25
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 15, Feb.26-March 1
  • 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)

Historically, September has been the very best of the 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 best month to visit, however, the popularity of Halloween Horror Nights 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 2017 & 2018 - Incredible Hulk Coaster

September is also 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 2017 are ...

  • Jan. 1-8, Jan. 13-16
  • Jan. 26-28 (heavier concentration of crowds in the Wizarding Worlds for A Celebration of Harry Potter)
  • Feb. 17-26
  • March 12-April 23
  • Weekends in May
  • June
  • July
  • August until the 13th
  • The week of Thanksgiving
  • The week of Christmas through the week of New Year

The worst times to visit Universal Orlando in 2018 are ...

  • Jan. 1-7, Jan. 12-15
  • Late January, during A Celebration of Harry Potter - Dates TBD
  • Feb. 16-25
  • March 4-April 6
  • Weekends in May
  • June
  • July
  • August until the 12th
  • The week of Thanksgiving
  • The week of Christmas through the week of New Year

Following a successful 2017 event, the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl will again be held in Orlando on Jan. 28.  While some of the Pro Bowl activities are being held at Disney, we expect it will bring some additional people to Universal. That weekend coincides with A Celebration of Harry Potter, we have adjusted crowd levels. Saturday will likely be the busiest day, with the game day being less crowded. The annual Celebration also brings additional people to the parks, but generally many are attending the special Q&As with film talent, panels and demonstrations. Expect more crowds in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade for all of the Celebration dates.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2017 & 2018 - Universal's Volcano Bay - Atmosphere

Let's hop forward to spring break for a moment. In 2018, Easter falls on April 1 and will likely mean a slightly shorter, but more crowded spring break. Take those crowds into consideration when planning your visit.

Holiday Crowds At Universal Orlando in 2017 and 2018

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 will be a BIG DEAL at Universal Orlando Resort in 2017. Muggles and wizards will flock to Christmas In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which will bring holiday decorations, entertainment and food—welcome back warm Butterbeer! Universal's Holiday Parade will debut at Universal Studios, and the popular Grinchmas will once again return to Islands of Adventure.

Universal Orlando's most crowded holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Easter - April 16, 2017, and April 1, 2018
  • July 4th
  • Thanksgiving - Nov. 23, 2017, and Nov. 22, 2018
  • Christmas
  • New Year's Eve

Best Holidays to Visit Universal Orlando in 2017 and 2018

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. (PRO TIP: Don't use a sick day for a visit and then post a pic of you enjoying a Lard Lad donut.)

  • Labor Day - Sept. 4, 2017, and Sept. 3, 2018
  • Columbus Day - Oct. 9, 2017, and Oct. 8, 2018
  • Veteran's Day

Now you know the best time to visit Universal Orlando in 2017 and 2018. 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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Nov 16, 2017 at 12:11 p.m. Rob Says...

Great blog - thanks.

We're thinking of coming from 26th May 2018 for one week - which is a school holiday in the UK. I see your crowd calendar predicts it to be busy - is it a holiday in the US as well?

Reply
Nov 16, 2017 at 11:32 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Rob,

The weekend of the 26th is Memorial Day weekend. It's a school and work holiday!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Nov 13, 2017 at 12:25 a.m. Valerie Says...

We are looking to visit the week of June 10, 2018. What should we expect as far as crowds and, more importantly, weather. How hot and humid is it in June and what about rain? Thank you!

Reply
Nov 15, 2017 at 11:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Valerie,

You should expect the parks to be fairly busy and crowded. The majority of kids are out of school and on summer vacation. You can check crowd levels on our crowd calendar. The average high for June is around 80 degrees. It is also pretty humid and Florida is notorious for random rainstorms throughout the day!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 29, 2017 at 7:16 p.m. wheat Says...

Does your crown calendar take into account conventions and other events taking place? I also noticed on the calendar days during the week that are noted busy for that park (red exclamation point), but doesn't state why. (Happened to be looking mid Nov.)

Thanks!

Reply
Oct 30, 2017 at 8:08 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi,

Our Crowd Calendar uses past attendance information, school calendars, vacations and major events, such as Disney marathons and the Pro Bowl. Conventions are rather consistent and don't impact the parks quite as much as the above events.

As for the red exclamation, that symbol means we're expecting the park to be busy.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 26, 2017 at 3:40 a.m. Ana Says...

Is there an specific time of the year when you can find more offers for Universal tickets? I plan to go on Jan 2018 and Universal parks are a must!

Reply
Oct 26, 2017 at 8:37 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Ana,

Ticket specials hop up throughout the year. Keep checking!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 23, 2017 at 7:49 p.m. Tiffany Says...

Have you ever visited during the Harry Potter Celebration? We're thinking of going to Disney that week of the HP Celebration and wanted to go to Universal the last day of our trip(mainly to see the Wizarding World) but had no idea until now that it is actually going to be a big event. Do you think it will be too crowded to enjoy? Although I am a huge fan of HP, the rest of my family is not and as much as I would enjoy the event...I am not sure the stress of the crowds would be worth it for the rest of the family.

-1st timer

Reply
Oct 24, 2017 at 4:34 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tiffany,

It's one of our favorite Universal experiences! Check out our post on A Celebration of Harry Potter to learn all about the experience. It's crowded but enjoyable.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 21, 2017 at 5:47 p.m. manag Says...

So we are apparently planning to do the unthinkable - visiting on 2017 Christmas weekend. Do you think that is advisable if we get the express unlimted. 3 adults, no kids.

Reply
Oct 23, 2017 at 9:18 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi,

If you're going to visit during Christmas weekend, then Express Unlimited is the way to go!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Sep 8, 2017 at 1:39 a.m. Cheryl Says...

Planning to visit Universal 11/8/17-11/14/17, hoping to stay at the Cabana Bay. We haven't been there in many years..this being the first visit for our kids, ages 9 and 15. We're planning to purchase park-to-park passes...is that a long enough stay to see Universal, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay having this be their first visit? CityWalk we plan to do if we have 'extra' time. Thanks in advance!!

Reply
Sep 8, 2017 at 7:55 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cheryl,

Three days for Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure is a good time to see everything and not rush. Allow one day for Volcano Bay. Use your downtime for CityWalk. Have fun!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 31, 2017 at 10:54 a.m. Tony Says...

We're planning on going 7th April 2018. Chose this as it'll be a week after Easter and most of spring break will have died down. Do you reckon I am making the right assumptions or is there something else I should consider that drives the crowds high. Thanks,

Reply
Sep 1, 2017 at 9:03 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tony,

Looking at our Crowd Calendar, we are forecasting heavy crowds through the first half of April. Some school districts will have spring break during those weeks.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 20, 2017 at 2:12 p.m. Dave Says...

It looks like February 21-25 will be the best time for our family to visit Universal. We plan to stay on site and utilize Express Passes. I've noticed several calendars that project that to be a busy time, but the only indication as to why was Disney's Princess marathon. Is that truly likely to have an effect on Universal's parks or are there other factors?

Thanks for your excellent site, and in advance for your input!

Reply
Aug 20, 2017 at 2:48 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dave,

In addition to the Disney Marathon, some school districts on the East coast are off that week. Many people head down to Disney and Universal, which will impact crowds. Take a look at our Crowd Calendar to see which days are best for visiting Universal.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 20, 2017 at 8:11 p.m. Dave Says...

Thank you so much!

Reply
Aug 20, 2017 at 12:51 a.m. Lindsay Hall Says...

Omgosh this is so awesome! I need to he there!

Reply
Aug 18, 2017 at 7:11 p.m. Teresa Says...

Is the Canadian thanksgiving 2017 holiday (oct 6-9) a busy time to visit universal studios?

Reply
Aug 20, 2017 at 3:23 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Teresa,

On our Crowd Calendar, we're forecasting average crowds during that weekend, which is Columbus Day weekend in the U.S.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 20, 2017 at 3:23 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Teresa,

On our Crowd Calendar, we're forecasting average crowds during that weekend, which is Columbus Day in the U.S.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 17, 2017 at 5:59 p.m. Tasha Says...

I'm bringing my 6 year old to Universal Studios when Fright Nights are scheduled. We will only be in the park during the day and not doing the event. Are the parks scary during the daytime? And will the whole park be accessible during the daytime hours or limited bc of the fright night set up?

Reply
Aug 23, 2017 at 3:54 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tasha,

There are minimal Halloween Horror Nights props and decorations up during the day. None of them are scary. The entire park will be accessible during the day.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 17, 2017 at 5:55 p.m. Danielle Says...

We have booked our vacation for April 12-26, 2018. There is a two day, two day free with Volcano bay tickets on sale that expire in May of 2018 should I be buying them now? or waiting until closer to the vacation?

Reply
Aug 17, 2017 at 1:06 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Danielle,

If those tickets don't expire before your trip, it's perfectly fine to purchase them right now! Ticket specials change, so hop on them when you can!

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 31, 2017 at 5 a.m. Lena Says...

We are thinking to go Jan 11-12, hoping for smaller crowds. You have Jan 12th listed as both best and worst times to go in 2018. Can you please clarify?

Reply
Jul 28, 2017 at 12:52 a.m. Vale Says...

Ho! We're planning a tour to universal next year (18th-21st April 2018) 3 days, what do you think about them? :)

Reply
Aug 1, 2017 at 2:17 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Vale,

According to our Los Angeles Crowd Calendar, those are medium level days, so crowds shouldn't be too heavy.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 25, 2017 at 5:38 p.m. Jenny Says...

Do you know when the Universal Express Unlimited will be available for 2018? I want to stay at Cabana Bay, but I'm waiting book until the Expresses passes are available. Should I wait or can I add this on later? Thanks!

Reply
Jul 28, 2017 at 11:16 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jenny,

You can add them later, even in the parks if you’d like. We do not know when they will be available for 2018.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 17, 2017 at 7:34 a.m. Alainya Says...

Hi. We have 7 days to do Universal and Disney in Orlando. Do you recommend staying near Disney and travelling to Universal or spending 2 nights at Universal then 5 at Disney? We have 4 kids, so travel between the parks starts to add up.

Cheers!

Reply
Jul 17, 2017 at 4:52 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Alainya,

Staying on-site or near both resorts definitely have their perks. If you don't mind hotel hopping, then we would recommend staying 2 nights at or near Universal Orlando while you're enjoying the parks there, and then staying at or near Disney while you're visiting the Disney parks. It can make things easier getting to and from the parks.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 21, 2017 at 10:05 p.m. Beth Stemig Says...

Will you be creating a wait-time app for Android? Thanks for all your great tips!

Reply
Jun 23, 2017 at 8:06 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Beth,

Thanks for the feedback. We do plan to roll out an Android version at some point.

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 21, 2017 at 2:50 a.m. Patrick Says...

Hi there

On the crowd calendar there are some parks with nothing beside it ( not an exclamation mark or a check mark) what does that mean?

Reply
Jun 21, 2017 at 7:56 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Patrick,

If there's nothing beside it, we're forecasting neutral crowds for that park. Feel free to visit it!

Keep hopping,

Leap

Reply
Jun 2, 2017 at 11:40 p.m. Brandi Says...

Hi!

My boyfriend and I booked a trip for Jan. 7th-13th 2018. We're staying at the Royal Pacific and we are wicked excited for low crowds, but we are kind of concerned about refurbishments since it will be such a slow time (we're fine with the parks closing early because it will allow for the much needed down time we don't get when we go to Disney! However, if major rides tend to be down early January we may re-think our plans).

Reply
Jun 5, 2017 at 12:21 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brandi,

The off-season months are when refurbishments happen. Not that closures are subject to change at any time.

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 26, 2017 at 2:37 a.m. Sam Says...

Hello,

You mention in this list that July 4th is one of the busiest holidays to visit Universal Orlando, but on your crowd calendar, there is a green check on July 4th. Which is correct? Thanks!

Reply
May 26, 2017 at 7 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sam,

The green check means that, out of all the parks open on that day, we recommend going to that one. It will still be busy at every park. Most people enjoy fireworks shows, which tends to drive people to Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 22, 2017 at 5:41 p.m. Chrissy Says...

Hello =)

We have always headed out to Universal and Disney the last week of May. It has always been perfect. This year with work and a different school schedule we are looking at the week of August 5th. I know we are going to face some really bad crowds, but how horrible is the heat and humidity going to be ? Also are the crowds so bad in August to maybe just skip this year because we will be back out in May 2018? Thank you =)

Reply
May 22, 2017 at 1:57 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Chrissy,

We're forecasting heavy crowds through August 16 this year. As for weather, August afternoons in Florida can be hot and humid. Early May be best for crowds and weather!

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 23, 2017 at 4:01 a.m. Chrissy Says...

Thank you so much =)

Reply
Mar 31, 2017 at 7:56 p.m. Ritz Says...

I booked in late first week of April '17, hope to see less crowd.

Reply
Mar 2, 2017 at 6:09 p.m. Lynn Says...

Hello! We are planning to visit WDW Feb. 27- March 1, 2018. You state that is one of the best times to visit WDW, but on the crowd calendar, on only one of those dates is there a green check by Magic Kingdom. What is the significance of the green check mark? Thanks!

Reply
Mar 2, 2017 at 1:32 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lynn,

The green check mark is our Recommended Park to visit that day.

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 18, 2017 at 7:08 p.m. Leah Says...

We booked our trip for March! Can't wait and hope the crowds are low!

Reply
Aug 17, 2017 at 11:04 p.m. Brian Says...

Leah,

Hoping not to burst you bubble, but the wife & I have been doing Disney at least yearly for the past 35 years. March used to be a great month, but due to a load of Southern Spring Break states, March turned horrendous for kids and crowds. I personally would never do March again, no matter what the statistics say. Early September, November between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and January are the BEST times for crowd levels at Disneyworld and Universal Orlando,

Reply
Jan 18, 2017 at 1:49 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Yea Leah! Have fun. Tag is in your selfies!

Hoppy Planning!

Leap

Reply
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