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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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1101–1150 of 1397 comments
Oct 12, 2020 at 4:38 p.m. Allison R Says...

Thanks for another great post! We had to cancel our April trip and are considering when would be the best time for us to visit!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:38 p.m. Steve Says...

Loved the service we’ve gotten from UnderCoverTourist in the past and we’ll be back in the future. We always refer our friends to you.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:38 p.m. Sarah Herbst Says...

We love all of the information!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:38 p.m. 9erica1 Says...

I have never been to any theme parks in Florida. I am excited to go this year. Although it is under these circumstances but I am hoping for the best.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:38 p.m. felten4u Says...

Always great tips. Can't wait until our trip in December.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. Ryan Says...

Looking forward to traveling again soon! We haven’t been to Universal since we were in high school.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. Mindy worly Says...

Relied on this device to take four grandchildren to Disney World in 2018 and 2 grandchildren to Harry Potter’s World in 2019. Will use them again when this Covid mess is through. Would not do it any other way.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. AmyK Says...

I don’t think there’s a wrong time to visit! Every time of the year is magical!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. Didi Marie Says...

Honestly? I'm thinking ANYTIME would be the best time to visit Universal Orlando in 2020/2021! We missed our annual Halloween Horror Nights this year, and have the DTs something fierce!! ;)

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. Jennifer Says...

We love Universal Studios. Our favorite is HHN. Last year I watched a "demon" chase a girl toward me. I told him "NO, bad demon"...gotta give the actor credit, he just looked at me like I was crazy and stared me down, freaked the hell out of me lol, Loved It!!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:36 p.m. Mikenziec Says...

I would love to go to Universal some time next year for my 40th birthday!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:36 p.m. Karen Wolfe Says...

Our family has never been to Universal, but we sure would love to!! When we are done having to shelter in place (we have a medically fragile kiddo), we are hoping to make a trip down!!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:36 p.m. Worapitcha Jariyanantakul Says...

I gonna go there next month. Can't wait to visit!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:36 p.m. Cassy Says...

My family loves Disney but we've never been to Universal. We've talked about it a lot and I think we will go sooner than later!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:36 p.m. Nicole Taylor Says...

We visited this last week Oct. 6-9th! Tuesday & Wed essay we’re not busy at all at Universal Studios! We were able to ride every single ride we wanted to. Thursday & Friday we’re busy but we rode the rides we wanted to do again and visited the two haunted houses. We really enjoyed our stay. Definitely recommend going this time of year.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:36 p.m. Amdhawkins Says...

Great tips. I would love to take my son for his birthday

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. Christine Hawkins Says...

Still crossing my fingers that I can take my whole family to Universal September 2021.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. OhioTam Says...

We had planned to go Thanksgiving week, but cancelled and rescheduled for May when school is out. Although if things get better with COVID, hopefully we could take a short trip in the spring!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. Linda Says...

We usually make an annual trip all the way from our home in Hawaii with our daughter and her best friend week after thanksgiving But due to my husbands sudden illness and catching covid Could be devastating to him, we have decided to wait a year. But next year will make up for it as we plan on fifth wheeling with my sister to Orlando and staying on site. Christmas won’t be the same as we always begin the holidays with Mannheim steamroller and magic kingdom. Happy holidays to all

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. Loren Says...

Hello!

We will be visiting in January and this will be our first time visiting Disney world and universal! Any tips and tricks for us? ????

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

Hi Loren!

We are so excited for you! We'll let others in the Frog Pond weigh in, but we definitely suggest being a flexible froggy. The good news is that planning for a trip right now is much more relaxed! You'll need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation before heading into the park and potentially look into springing for Express at Universal. But other than that, you'll just have to show up and enjoy :)

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 12, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. Emily B Says...

Hope to win this amazing vacation!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. Aimee Parsons Says...

Help me I’m poor. LOOOL

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. TIA Says...

We like going for the Mardi Gras Celebration in the Spring. I love the parade and all of the great food.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. Rachelle F Says...

Couldn't agree more! We were just there for the last week of September. The weekends were packed with huge wait times for food & beverages but the weekdays were amazing. We even rode Hagrid's twice!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. M. D. Says...

Can't wait to get back to the parks! It's been a long time...

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. Warren Says...

It's been a few years since we last went to the Orlando parks. We'd love to take advantage of the lower crowds at this time and visit again soon. Thanks for the great blog post!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. Flamingogurl Says...

Thanks so much! Cannot wait to return to the Magic, and this definitely is a big help in planning :)

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. Chris Says...

Undercover Tourist is one of my go-to pages for Orlando parks. We purchased tickets from them in March for a 3 day vacation at Disney. Most likely going to do the same for Universal this year. Great prices, great advice, great site and service.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:33 p.m. Kristen Hoover Says...

Thanks for this information about the best times to visit!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:33 p.m. Kathy Clark Says...

Thank you for the great post! We have not yet visited, but I am gathering information as we plan to within the next year. :)

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:33 p.m. Michael Jarecki Says...

Thank you for all the helpful dates

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:33 p.m. Jjhaas410 Says...

Coming Nov 2020 to see holiday decor! #readyw/masks

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:32 p.m. JC Says...

Great info. Thanks!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Grace C Says...

I was born and raised in FL and still have never been to Universal... I hope this helps plan!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Christy Lee Vawerchak Says...

I have a 4 year old daughter and we went to the parks last month . Reduced crowd , ride lines at 10 min wait and we got to ride more than once . This is AWESOME time to go !!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Michelle Sanna Says...

The weather is beautiful in the fall! We are hoping to get back to Florida in March, fingers-crossed!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Andrés Luzón Says...

It's the perfect play to visit

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Ian McLean Says...

Love Florida, especially the theme parks. Can't wait to return once travel restrictions from the UK permit!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. Candice O Says...

I can’t wait to head back to Orlando!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. Melissa Mazzur Says...

Cant wait to come for a December visit!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. jnutz25 Says...

I can't wait to plan a trip!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. Johns Says...

I need to get here soon!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. Karla Says...

Great post! Very helpful!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. Adele P Says...

I hope to visit Universal Orlando next month and I'm hoping that strict protocols will be followed.

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:29 p.m. Zoe F Says...

I cannot wait to visit the park and see the Harry Potter area!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:29 p.m. Madison Olson Says...

Hoping to go sometime in May 2021. We will be utilizing the crowd calendar to figure out when is best!

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Oct 12, 2020 at 4:29 p.m. Jennifromtheblock Says...

Cannot wait to get back to Universal for a much needed vacation. Thanks for always keeping us up to date on the happenings!

Reply
Oct 12, 2020 at 4:28 p.m. Amanda Lovett Says...

I would love tips on planning a trip, I have never been!

Reply
Oct 12, 2020 at 4:27 p.m. laura ugueto Says...

Hi, is it difficult to find Universal-Loews hotel at discounted rates for Christmas time?

Reply
Oct 13, 2020 at 2:19 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Laura!

Rates will be a little higher during peak times such as Christmas, but you can still find frogtastic hotel rates through Undercover Tourist year round!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 12, 2020 at 4:27 p.m. Kttigger Says...

What helpful information to have. Thanks!

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