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

by Leap on November 10, 2021 1707 Orlando

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando - Crowd Calendar

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 are even more criteria when deciding the best time to visit Universal Orlando. Universal 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.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando - Marilyn Monroe

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 saw a busy summer, too, especially with the launch of the epic new VelociCoaster. After the long-awaited return of Halloween Horror Nights this fall, we expect the 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 the week of Thanksgiving and the end of December into early January.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando in 2021 - 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.

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 summer 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

Best Time to Visit Universal - 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 with 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 Jr. Day, a weeklong spring break or the big draw — summer vacation. The week of Thanksgiving and from Christmas into the new year are notably busy, as well.

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). 2021 was especially busy to commemorate the event's 30th year.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando - VelociCoaster Ride Vehicles

Big openings can also bring big crowds who want to be among the first to experience the thrills. 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're 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 kicked 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 was Universal's Jurassic World VelociCoaster, which launched 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 2021 - 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

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando - Hogwarts Castle

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 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.

  • Veterans Day (and Veterans Day Observed) - Nov. 11, 2021, and Nov. 11, 2022
  • MLK Day - Jan. 17, 2022
  • Presidents' Day - Feb. 21, 2022
  • Labor Day - Sept. 5, 2022
  • Columbus Day - Oct. 10, 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!
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451–500 of 1420 comments
Oct 20, 2020 at 3:39 a.m. Melanie G Says...

It has been a rough few years. Divorce has been rough on my 3 children-now all teens- and myself. Would love to take them to Universal. We have never been. Have done Disney but was waiting til the kids were older to do Universal, but now as a single mom, it makes it more difficult for me to get us there-financially speaking. Fingers crossed.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:19 a.m. Jennifer Johnson Says...

We’d love to take our 3 kids to Universal.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 1:45 a.m. J Says...

Love this! Can’t wait to go!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:35 p.m. Alejandra Says...

I would love to go again! I love this place so much!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:34 p.m. Rexy Says...

Enjoyed the article

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:28 p.m. Victoria Says...

Great Tips! It is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to planning our first trip to Universal Orlando and I am soaking this all up!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 9:52 p.m. Virginia Oswalt Says...

looking forward to taking my grandchildren when their parents feel it is safe again.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 8:59 p.m. Jenny Jung Says...

This is a dream come true!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 8:12 p.m. Tim Says...

I'd love a Christmas trip!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 7:45 p.m. Autumn Says...

I love universal studio

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Oct 19, 2020 at 5:07 p.m. Michael A Booth Says...

Universal and IOA are my favorite parks to go to.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. Tricia Says...

Cannot wait to plan a trip!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 4:26 p.m. James Dyson Says...

Can't wait to go again!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 3:15 p.m. Lacey J Says...

I love Undercover Tourist and wokld never consider visiting the parks without using y’all!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 2:40 p.m. Leslie H Says...

I haven't been to Universal since 2016. I am hopeful to go within the next year or two and bring my son. As a toddler, it would be interesting to see the park through his eyes.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. MikeJ Says...

OMG, this is sooo needed!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:43 p.m. Muffin Says...

Hoping to reschedule for next year!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:21 p.m. Ann Marie Says...

We're planning on going during the first half of August 2021. I guess we should expect large crowds. :(

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:05 p.m. Jonathan McIntosh Says...

Thanks for this info. Helpful for our fam as we plan our next trip... hopefully in 2021!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:49 a.m. Donna J Says...

My daughters would love to go to Universal - I just found out they have a Simpsons area!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 9:23 a.m. Stevie Says...

I am hoping to take my kids next spring to Disney World!! This will definitely help with the trip planning.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 9:16 a.m. John A Deal Says...

I would love to visit there

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Oct 19, 2020 at 6:13 a.m. Treva Smith Says...

Cool blog. I have not been, I would love to visit sometime

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Oct 19, 2020 at 3:56 a.m. Kelley Q Says...

Love these guides! Thanks!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 3:14 a.m. Amy B Says...

I think I *need* this trip!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 1:26 a.m. Kala D Says...

I always use Undercover Tourist when deciding when we go to Orlando. Our last trip was in Jan 2019 and undercover tourist was spot on! Good info for next year!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:45 a.m. JNCVAL Says...

I'm way overdue for some butter beer!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:19 a.m. Eliese Says...

I can't wait till the pandemic is over so we can travel!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:06 a.m. Smiley face Says...

Can't wait to visit!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:02 a.m. CarolC Says...

Can't wait to get back to WDW.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Samantha Says...

We're planning for November 2021. I'm glad to know that you expect this to be a good time to visit! Can't wait for Wizarding World!!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 11:46 p.m. TRF Says...

Looks like fun!!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 11:20 p.m. Amanda B Says...

We are so hoping to go one week in November! Great information in this post, thank you!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 10:50 p.m. CARLA JO Says...

One of the better times to attend WDW is right after the kids go back to school, the first part of September.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 10:17 p.m. Deborah Munkirs Says...

My son and husband love Harry Potter!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 9:44 p.m. Mindi Eden Says...

2020 is a bust for us BUT thanks for the wonderful info!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 8:44 p.m. Karen W Says...

I would love to visit Universal, all the helpful information for planning is great.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 7:28 p.m. Shelby Calkin Says...

Thanks

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Oct 18, 2020 at 6:56 p.m. MELISSA WILKINSON Says...

We hope to go next year for sure! Can't wait!!!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 5:52 p.m. Katie L. Says...

I just booked a trip for Disney next November and am hoping to be able to add in a couple Universal days as well. Thanks for the information!!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. Emily M Says...

I’m a huge Disney world person but have been dying to go to Universal for years! Love the tips and I’m sure they’re going to be very helpful in planning a universal trip since I don’t know nearly as much as I do about Disney.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 4:27 p.m. Kristin Says...

We were planning a trip in July, but the parks were still closed. We hope to visit in 2021!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 3:50 p.m. P.S. Says...

Thank you for the very informative blog.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 3:03 p.m. JEFFREY O. Says...

This is super helpful. Thank you.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 1:34 p.m. Anna Cook Says...

Want to go

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Oct 18, 2020 at 1:17 p.m. Angela C Adelman Says...

When I went to Universal Studios it was magical. I would love to go back. Thank you for this chance.

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Oct 18, 2020 at 4:02 a.m. Cathleen Clark Says...

We went a few years ago and it was wonderful. We had a trip planned for May, but that got canceled. It would be wonderful to rebook a trip and take our grandkids. :)

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Oct 18, 2020 at 3:45 a.m. Bev F Says...

Really want to visit in 2021!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 1:42 a.m. JenD Says...

My family loves Universal Orlando! Amazing rides, great hotels, tons of food options. We can't wait to go back- fingers crossed that it is soon!

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Oct 18, 2020 at 1:06 a.m. Caroline Says...

Can’t wait!

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