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

by Leap on February 1, 2021 1657 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 some of you are waiting for a return to "normal" times, those of you who are OK with a modified experience and a mask requirement may actually find it's a better time to visit. While we have no crystal ball on when things will return to normal, we expect there won't be a full return to normal until at least the second half of 2021 and probably 2022. We can at least 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 over the next few months.

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.

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, usually around the holidays.

Since we're still in the early rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and many domestic and international travel restrictions are currently in place, we expect the first half of 2021 to be one of the best times to visit Universal Orlando in years. That said, the parks have been hitting capacity during holidays, and they are busier on weekends, and we expect this trend will continue. For most of March through mid-April, expect elevated crowds with spring break hoppening.

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 usually applies to one-day holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, 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?

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. It doesn't have an exact opening date yet but is scheduled to open summer 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 second half 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 falls 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
  • July 4th
  • 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!
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551–600 of 1397 comments
Oct 14, 2020 at 5:47 p.m. Misti Freemam Says...

Undercover Tourist is a safe, legit site to buy discounted park tickets!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:42 p.m. Kate Morris Says...

Good tips, I'm shooting for Oct 2021.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:40 p.m. Dana B Says...

Thanks for all the tips! We plan on taking our family early October 2021, but only do parks on the weekdays. We need our Halloween Horror Nights fix!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:37 p.m. Delores Harris Says...

Would definitely want to stay at a hotel with the 'skip the line feature'

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:32 p.m. Courtney Scarbin Says...

Thanks for all the great tips & tricks! Quarantine has been tough and we're hoping to plan a trip for next year. This will sure help!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:32 p.m. Maria Vallier Says...

So cool!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:29 p.m. Nicolette M Says...

can't wait to go back!!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:27 p.m. Melinda Shilansky Says...

omg I wanna go to florida so bad!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:39 p.m. Becky B Says...

Been missing the Orlando magic lately! Love your blog and getting prepped for our next visit! Xoxo

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. Susann Lewis Says...

I love the excitement of just being there, for me everyday is the perfect time to visit

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:17 p.m. Cynthia Beauclair Says...

I can't wait to get back to Orlando

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:14 p.m. beth shepherd Says...

I love all the gret tips. It would be amazing to travel there someday.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:08 p.m. Jackie M, Says...

We loved going in late February. We had days hot enough for the water park but not too hot that we were uncomfortable on our feet in the parks all day!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:44 p.m. eric hudson Says...

love undercover tourist have been using them for years!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:39 p.m. julie Says...

this trip would be awesome to win

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:39 p.m. Brad Says...

Looking forward to our next visit in 10 days. Have annual pass but due to Covid have not got much use of it

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:17 p.m. Christal Brancato Says...

I always liked going to Universal during the Fall. Its not as hot and the kids have returned to school so the lines are a lot shorter. Of course I'd go any day of the year! Its always been one of my favorite vacation spots. And Universal out does itself with each new attraction so its never the same experience.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:01 p.m. Marlene Says...

It has been over 29 years since I have been to Orlando. I need to go back and see what I have been missing.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:55 p.m. Parker Says...

Trying to figure out best time to take teenage daughter. This gives me a better idea of when not to go...seems pretty much what you would think though. Stay away from weekends and the summer.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:53 p.m. Kimmiemck Says...

Thanks for all the great info! This should make trip planning easier and the trip less stressful!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:45 p.m. Colleen Says...

I have used Undercover for booking, and will do so again. Thanks for the informative article

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:23 p.m. William Says...

Universal Studios is amazing.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:18 p.m. Daria Grudziecki Says...

I’ve always wanted to visit Universal during Mardi Gras!!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:04 p.m. Nancy S Says...

We have visited during many different times of the year, but I would say our best experience as far as low crowds and nice weather was in mid-November!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 1:50 p.m. Thomas P Says...

Useful info. Especially like the crowd calendar. You really learn how important planning is for visiting the theme parks for the first time and realizing how more info would've been helpful.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 1:50 p.m. Rose Z Says...

Been missing the magic! Can't wait to go hopefully soon!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 1:01 p.m. jemt Says...

I'd love to win this!!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 12:23 p.m. Emily Says...

We like to go mid-January. I'd love to go early December or late September to get some holiday cheer (Christmas or Halloween, both are so much fun)!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 12:22 p.m. Asia Walker Says...

This is great info thanks

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Oct 14, 2020 at 12:09 p.m. Sean D Says...

I love visiting at Christmastime. The holidays are fantastic.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 11:52 a.m. Janet Holman Says...

Looking forward to my next vacation.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 11:51 a.m. Chris D Says...

Always the best information! Thanks!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 11:42 a.m. candy Says...

Never been looks like fun!!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 11:35 a.m. Jessica Walker Says...

I would love to take my daughters here one day.

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Oct 14, 2020 at 11:15 a.m. Whitney J L Says...

I wish we could visit Universal soon!!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 10:41 a.m. Hector Says...

I already purchased my park tickets with Undercover Tourist for my January 2021 vacation. I can’t wait to return to Orlando!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 10:19 a.m. Steve Says...

A very good guide

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Oct 14, 2020 at 7:54 a.m. Angel B. Says...

We would love this! We live in Florida and haven't been to Universal yet due to prices so fingers crossed! <3

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Oct 14, 2020 at 7:01 a.m. Maryn Says...

Love Universal Studios!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 5:19 a.m. Delora Mccracken Says...

Thanks for all the great info. I learned a lt. Now I have more of an idea when to plan our Disney trip for 15 of us!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:55 a.m. shoppinmom77 Says...

We love to visit Universal and IOA! I agree with the recommendation to go when school is in session, and during the week. Can't go wrong!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:45 a.m. Andrew P Says...

Curious when the VelociCoaster will open!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 4:37 a.m. CassCass Says...

Looking forward to a crowded but “less crowded” Thanksgiving trip! Thank you for the insight!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:38 a.m. Christina Wahrmund Says...

Any time you go to Universal is the best time!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:06 a.m. C. Weller Says...

I love going to Orlando in the first two weeks of December! The weather is amazing and it's great to get out of the cold in PA! We have only visited Disney and Kennedy Space Center though, and would love to go to Universal!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 3:06 a.m. Stephanie Bryant Says...

Great contest

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:40 a.m. M. Elliott Says...

We will be there next week! Can’t wait!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 2:10 a.m. Jon Heil Says...

I havent been there in ages but I loved animal kingdom and the dinosaur ride and bringing back the Trex on the plane. Wish could have went to universal, maybe get the chance!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 1:33 a.m. Andrew Hall Says...

I want to visit Harry Potter World with my grandchildren!

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Oct 14, 2020 at 1:33 a.m. Joann D Says...

Can't wait to visit

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