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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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901–950 of 1397 comments
Oct 12, 2020 at 6:13 p.m. Laura Walker Says...

We have never been to Universal, but we are big Harry Potter fans. What are the must-do's at each park?

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Oct 13, 2020 at 11:58 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Laura!

We'd definitely recommend getting a park-to-park ticket so that you can take it between parks - it's different each direction! Outside of that, we'd suggest spending your time exploring both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (including a trip to Ollivanders - right now, it's only one party per show, so you'll have a private show!).

Keep hopping!

Leap

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:11 p.m. Julie Says...

Looks fun.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:11 p.m. Natalie Stover Says...

Hi there! I now have a child in Kindergarten so this is really helpful with relating the crowds and Covid. It has definitely been a stressful time with me being laid off, and he would have such a blast if we were able to attend! He is a huge superhero fan :) Also, the Cabana Bay looks really inviting! I've also heard Hagrid's is the best new rollercoaster so that is always something to look forward to! :)

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:10 p.m. Rach Says...

Thanks for the info!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:09 p.m. Whitney Says...

I have never had the opportunity/ability to go to Universal! I WISH we could!! ...maybe someday!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:09 p.m. Desiree Wilkins Says...

I can't wait until we can go back!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:09 p.m. NICOLE BECKER Says...

Thank you so much for posting this very informative article! Now I know when to book my trip for my family. I have not been there since my daughter was 6 and now she is 28 with children of her own. We can't wait!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:09 p.m. Chris Says...

Great tips!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:08 p.m. Rachel Masten Says...

Never been to Universal. Can’t wait to take the kids!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:08 p.m. Staci Whatley Says...

Great blog post!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:08 p.m. Heidi B Says...

Love your site! Great planning advice and awesome tips.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:06 p.m. Shawn Baer Says...

Love to take my family to Universal to celebrate my daughter graduating from college No other place my daughter wants to go but here hoping to win

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:06 p.m. Elisa Says...

My daughter loves Harry Potter! She would enjoy this trip as well as her brother, since they both have never been to Universal yet. Thanks for the advice!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:06 p.m. Amanda P Says...

Thanks for a great experience last fall! We are looking forward to our next adventure with you!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:02 p.m. Sarah Adair Says...

I love your blog!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:02 p.m. Laura Says...

Went last year the week before Thanksgiving - AWESOME week to go!!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6:01 p.m. Alison Says...

I live near the parks, and I would agree. However, Labor Day was one of the most crowded this year - because of covid - I think next year might be better. We did go during the week in September and may try again before the end of the year - good article, thanks!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 6 p.m. Dusty Brennan Says...

I have found the crowd calendar to be extremely helpful when planning which parks to attend on which days.

I'm looking forward to my next trip in Sept 2021!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:58 p.m. rustgeun Says...

I always get my Universal and Disney World tickets through Undercover Tourist's discount tickets link. They are also full of good advice in these blogs!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:58 p.m. Angela Says...

Thank you so much for all your tips. I have always used your crowd calendars and recommendations to plan my trips to Disneyland and Disneyworld. I can't wait to read all your recommendations for Spring Break 2021 as that is our next trip. Keep up the great work!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:56 p.m. Charlotte Ross Says...

This was very useful information. Thank you!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:56 p.m. Catherine Touhsant Says...

I'm loving all these great tips! I'll be back at Universal Nov 1-3. I'm hoping to finally get on that Hagrid's ride!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:56 p.m. BrianJL Says...

I really miss the parks - it would be great to go back!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:55 p.m. Beth Ferguson Says...

Would love to visit the Harry Potter area of Universal! I think it would be almost like being at Diagon Alley!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:54 p.m. Kate Says...

YAHOO! Wish I was there

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:53 p.m. John Rogan Says...

Thank you for the info

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:51 p.m. London Says...

Love it!❤️

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:51 p.m. Renee Smason Says...

We love to go. Have never been there.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:51 p.m. Jana bush Says...

We can’t wait to visit the parks with our 4 kids! We’re all huge Harry Potter and marvel fans! Plus all the classic rides. It would be so awesome to get to surprise them with a trip!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:51 p.m. Jackie S Says...

My son is turning 11 later this year and will hopefully get his Hogwarts letter so we can visit USO. We’ve been to USH but would love to ride the Hogwarts express. It would be during the holidays but I’m optimistic we can get everything we want done with a bit of patience.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:50 p.m. Alberto Alonso Says...

Would love to win

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:50 p.m. Jen Says...

So tempted to get away but seems a little reckless to travel during the pandemic. Would love to take advantage of lower than normal crowds.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:50 p.m. ssh68 Says...

I love posts like this. It helped me plan my Disney trip 3 years ago. I went in between Halloween and Thanksgiving and everything was perfect, the weather, the crowds, etc. I hope to do Universal this time around and this post is just what I need to help in my planning. Thanks frog!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:49 p.m. Richard LASHER Says...

Love Undercover Tourist and Universal Orlando Resort!!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:47 p.m. Sydney vought Says...

I have my fingers crossed for the sweepstakes!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:47 p.m. DHY Says...

Tons of info, very usefull

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:46 p.m. Janet Says...

Very helpful tips for my upcoming trip to WDW. Thank you!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:46 p.m. Rachel E. Says...

Our first visit to Universal was in September & I have to say that it was PERFECT. Great weather & not too busy!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:45 p.m. Snlmom Says...

We really enjoyed our trip to Disney Word in July of 2020. We're seriously considering sneaking in a Universal trip as well. This is good guidance! Hopefully we'll book soon!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:45 p.m. Lawrence Alworth Says...

WE like Undercover Tourist

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:45 p.m. Anousone Says...

Can't wait to visit central Florida again!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:44 p.m. Jon West Says...

Would love to visit this as I’ve heard so many great things with the theming.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:44 p.m. Haley Cawelti Says...

I have been using Undercover Tourist for all of my theme park purchases. They always have great information and discounted options

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:44 p.m. Amber Jenkins Says...

Go during the winter! It's the best especially if you live somewhere that's cold in winter!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:42 p.m. Violet Hos Says...

Thank you for this article. Sadly I missed my trip this year as my country’s borders are closed. Hopefully I’ll be back 2022 or 2022

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:42 p.m. DemoDawg Says...

We have used Undercover Tourist several times for Disney tickets. Everything was great the whole experience plus we saved a lot of $$$ versus the gate prices. I highly recommend them and will continue to use them every time we visit the Orlando area.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:40 p.m. Emily Zimmerman Says...

Great info!! Thanks :)

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:38 p.m. Darren W Lewandowski Says...

Undercover Tourist is the one to go to for all news when it comes to theme park news in Florida

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:38 p.m. Taylor Says...

So cool!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 5:38 p.m. Virginia Alworth Says...

Love when Undercover Tourist has sweepstakes

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