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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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651–700 of 1397 comments
Oct 13, 2020 at 2:38 p.m. trindadsth Says...

I'm very conflicted. Go to WDW because of the Star Wars rides I haven't gone on or IOA for Hagrid's Motorcycle adventure.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:37 p.m. Michele G Says...

Can not wait to get back!!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:29 p.m. DataDan Says...

I love Universal Orlando! Can't wait to go this summer!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:27 p.m. JessS Says...

Can't wait to go back!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:27 p.m. Hannah Says...

Would love to visit soon!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:18 p.m. Ashley B Says...

Dreaming of those travel plans! Love these tips!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:16 p.m. Shaun Says...

My wife and I spent last Friday at both IOA and USO and had an amazing day. Lines were great, staff interactions were fantastic! We ended the night at Mythos and had an amazing meal!! Great to see that Universal is still bringing on the thrills, safely, even at this unusual time. :)

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:14 p.m. Nancy Krueger Says...

Thanks for the detailed info. I'm hoping we can hit some date early/mid in January before school starts

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:12 p.m. Elisa Evans Says...

can't wait to go!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:08 p.m. Sherri DeSorcy Says...

Thank you for always having all this great information! We love Undercover Tourist!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:07 p.m. R asvitt Says...

Looks amazing! Would love to take the family!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:06 p.m. Cindy Perrin Says...

Thanks as always for the great information!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:03 p.m. sb704 Says...

Can't wait to visit again. it's been 7 years since we were last at Universal!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 2:02 p.m. Gina Wieser Says...

Thanks for the tips!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:58 p.m. Steven W Long Says...

This place is truly magical. Would love to visit.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:53 p.m. Ilona B. Says...

We have never visited but love spring break for vacations.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:51 p.m. Kelly VanAuken Says...

Great information. Thank you.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:49 p.m. Chrizwald Says...

I hope I'm chosen. I've never been to Universal :)

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. Js Says...

I can’t wait to take my family!!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:34 p.m. Merlin Williams Says...

I would love to be able to visit when things get back to normal.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:29 p.m. Daniel Mullen Says...

Good article.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:15 p.m. Danielle Says...

I haven’t been yet and I want to go soooooo bad!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:14 p.m. Michellerc Says...

Thank you Undercover Tourist. You’re information is always helpful!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:12 p.m. Sfldhockeymom Says...

Thank you for all your info. It is very helpful when planning a trip

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Oct 13, 2020 at 1:02 p.m. Rayne Torry Says...

I just left universal and cannot wait to come back already!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 12:58 p.m. APRIL A Says...

Thank you to UT, you are where we always buy our tickets to all of the FUN!!!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 12:54 p.m. Cmac Says...

Really helpful post!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 12:42 p.m. Lori Hunter Says...

I LOVE Undercover tourist. 2 summers ago we were blessed to be able to go to Universal and I had forgotten to order my tickets a few days earlier. I ordered on the day of driving down. The email said the tickets may take 24 hours I was devastated. I called and talked with someone at undercover tourist she was such a blessing and helped us so very much. She was unsure is it would work but she put a rush on things for me and BAM Praise The Lord our tickets were available. We saved so much money going through them and I recommend you to everyone I talk to about Universal!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 12:17 p.m. JL Granger Says...

Can not wait to go back!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 12:01 p.m. Rhonda Nieto Says...

Hoping to go in 2021!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 11:43 a.m. Chana B Says...

Thanks for the info! Your blog and website were so helpful when planning our trip!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 11 a.m. Heather Bannigan Says...

Can’t wait to visit Florida again next year (hopefully) and will definitely be referring to this blog for all the handy tips and advice

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Oct 13, 2020 at 10:58 a.m. Trica Hotard Says...

December 7th thru 11th

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Oct 13, 2020 at 10:55 a.m. Kara Says...

We always use Undercover Tourist for our Orlando trips! We were referred by !

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Oct 13, 2020 at 10 a.m. J Says...

Live the Harry Potter books at Universal! It's magical!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 9:52 a.m. Joy Marish Says...

Great Info to know. Thank You.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 6:27 a.m. Kristina Fitzpatrick Says...

What an awesome opportunity!!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 6:16 a.m. Dominique Says...

Looking forward to a visit once the pandemic is gone and travel bans are lifted!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 5:51 a.m. Brandi Christensen Says...

Love the Disney parks but I’ve never been to Universal Studios. Would be fun!!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 5:49 a.m. David Cotton Says...

I think a person may need a week to do this! Soo much there :)

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Oct 13, 2020 at 5:04 a.m. Laurel Says...

I love the frog family! I’ve used Undercover Tourist for 3 of my Disney trips. They are legit. I had no problems with any of my reservations or tickets. I love their reviews and tips and I’ve recommended them to friends and family quite a few times. Keep up the good work!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 4:57 a.m. James Says...

Never been to Universal. I always take the kids to Disney World when we go to Florida. Planning on go to Universal next year.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 4:53 a.m. Ivy Gallegos Says...

I have been buying Walt Disney World & Universal Studios tickets for about 10 years now & have ALWAYS been pleased with their knowledge of both Parks & their professionalism. I have ALWAYS been pleased with how courteous, pleasant, knowledgeable & how professional they are! And have been referring people to them for years! I've never had an issue with their service or tickets & will continue to recommend them to everyone & anyone looking to save $money & have a hassle- free experience! Thanks for ALWAYS being there for your customers & us all these years!! :)

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Oct 13, 2020 at 4:47 a.m. Mable Says...

Miss Universal Orlando! Hope to be able to visit again!!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 4:37 a.m. Lynhob Says...

Love both Universal and Disney World. Heading to DW at then end of Oct thanks to the updates from Undercover Tourist

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Oct 13, 2020 at 4:25 a.m. AnnW Says...

If you only have one day to go, Wednesdays are a great day to hit the parks. I could really use a park fix right now.

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Oct 13, 2020 at 4:04 a.m. Bridget Dybdahl Says...

Would love to win this sweepstakes and take my grandchildren to Orlando since they moved to Indiana & I live in Michigan and have not seen them to since they moved and am missing them terribly with this Covid we have been feeling so isolated and could use some love aim this unprecedented time????

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Oct 13, 2020 at 3:53 a.m. Marilyn Magann Says...

I have never visited Universal. I hope to visit soon!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 3:32 a.m. jene4423 Says...

Pinning this for the future! We were planning on taking a family vacation to Orlando this year before the pandemic threw a wrench in everything, we're definitely going at some point though!

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Oct 13, 2020 at 3:31 a.m. Camille Says...

This site helped me save 100s of dollars on park tickets and we used the crowd calender to visit the parks on their least busy days. Longest wait time was 45 min. It was a success. Thank you!

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