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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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201–250 of 1397 comments
Oct 29, 2020 at 1:51 p.m. Betty boop Says...

I stayed at the hard Rock Hotel previously- it was awesome. Great hotel and the park perks- free transport & express made it a great trip. I'm hoping to visit again in 2021!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:50 p.m. CACCinNC Says...

Looking forward to taking my grandchild to Disney for the first time in February! Thank you for the information and discounts from this site!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:48 p.m. Meg F Says...

We bought our tickets from Undercover Tourist and saved over gate prices! We appreciate their tips and tricks very much!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:46 p.m. DavisExpedition Says...

My kids keep bugging me about going back to Universal! Can't wait until we can actually do it!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. Kristin Says...

Woo hoo! Fingers crossed!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. Brandi B Says...

We missed our trip in Oct 2020. Already scheduled for 2021!! Can't wait! Go away COVID

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:44 p.m. BobbiH Says...

I love all the tips from Undercover Tourist. I can't wait to be able to take my granddaughter to Disney and Universal!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:44 p.m. Carrie H. Says...

Great tips! We just went 2 weeks ago and had 4 day tickets. 2 days were more than enough to see everything. Wait times were surprisingly long in spite of crowd control.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:43 p.m. matt27ed Says...

We agree with visiting the parks during the weekdays. The weekends seem to have more visitors.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:42 p.m. Meagan L. Says...

I’m going to Orlando to go to Disney World for the first time. Maybe Universal needs to be my next trip.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. umkizay Says...

This is an AWESOME opportunity!!! We would love to go to Universal. We used Undercover Tourist to book & navigate WDW a year ago and we saved a TON of money & had the best time!!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. Mel L Says...

I love the crowd calendars...so helpful in planning a trip to the theme parks!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:39 p.m. Amy Capps Says...

Love Universal!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:39 p.m. Sharon I. Says...

Love these tips!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:35 p.m. SBWade Says...

Really would love to head back to Hogwarts! I want to see it at Christmas!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:34 p.m. Michael Heinauer Says...

I ate a hot dog at disney world.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:33 p.m. Priscilla Says...

Amazing deals! Hopefully I will be picked for the giveaway.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:32 p.m. Jennifer Hill Says...

Love these tips!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:31 p.m. kirsten m Says...

Anyone visit in early December and have any thoughts??

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. Kyle Says...

I just got back from a Disney trip, and it was extra-magical! I definitely want to try Universal now when crowds are at a historical low

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. Cara O'Neal Says...

Great information, I wish I could make it this year. I was looking at February 2021 for a big family trip. Maybe it will happen!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:29 p.m. Rose Ralstin Says...

Planning a visit in December - our first time seeing the parks decorated for Christmas! Thankful to have help navigating especially during this strange year!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:27 p.m. Jimg Says...

We all know the best time is any time you can get there.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:27 p.m. Melissa Straits Says...

Great info on here always!! My go to site for all things Disney

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:27 p.m. Tlwitt Says...

Planning a trip to Orlando in the spring, would love to add Universal to our itinerary!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:26 p.m. Cary Cochran Says...

Thanks to the frog family for all your awesome tips. Hoping to be able to use some of this advice when we go soon.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:26 p.m. James Silvius Says...

The week before Thanksgiving in 2019 was perfect.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:26 p.m. Laurielle W Says...

Love Undercover Tourist! They make saving easy

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:26 p.m. Jason Says...

Thank you for the info. Can’t wait for things to get going again

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:25 p.m. Wes Says...

Was in Disney and Universal at the beginning of October! Had a blast thanks to Undercover Tourist. From buying the tickets to navigating the parks, we were able to get everything done that we wanted! Can’t wait to go back.....hopefully soon!!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:23 p.m. wtcjr Says...

October and May are good times to go. Weather is good and small crowds.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:22 p.m. Brandon Says...

Very helpful info! Thanks much!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:22 p.m. DANNELL S ROBERTS Says...

We are planning our first trip to Universal in December and I am very excited. I have been reading all of the tips and guides!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:19 p.m. Tammy F Says...

Love all the tips from Undercover Tourist! We saved so much money and had such a great time when we went to Universal a couple of years ago. Can’t wait to go back again!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:16 p.m. Debby Fontenot Says...

Never been. Looks awesome!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:15 p.m. Ben Says...

If I win, I guess I need to learn something about Harry Potter before I get there.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:15 p.m. Mylee Says...

Can't wait to get back to Universal and ride The Hogwarts Express!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:14 p.m. NonnaLaurie Says...

I would love to start a new tradition for my older grandchildren.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:12 p.m. Chastity Davis Says...

Great article! I’m planning on taking my kids in December.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:11 p.m. Kristen Fisher Says...

Sounds incredible!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:11 p.m. A Duque Says...

Always awesome info. Thanks!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:10 p.m. Meg N Says...

Love Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Working on planning a trip now!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:07 p.m. Mmarizona Says...

Our family would love to visit. We have never been, but my daughter and I watch videos and dream-

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:07 p.m. Denise Says...

Thanks for all your info. It helps with my planning.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:06 p.m. Jason Says...

Thank you undercover tourist for this opportunity! Our trip was canceled in May due to covid shutdowns! Can't wait to be back.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:06 p.m. Nina77 Says...

Harry Potter world in Florida is definitely on the family bucket list. Hopefully all this craziness will die down soon.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:05 p.m. Melanie Holt Says...

Universal is my happy place! 2020 has been a tough year so I can’t wait to get back to my Universal “home”.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:04 p.m. Sara N Says...

I can't wait to go back.. my thrill seekers are patiently waiting!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:04 p.m. Colin C. Says...

Honestly the best time from this point forward will be anytime AFTER Covid and the post-Covid rush crowd.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:04 p.m. Mike Lambert Says...

Need something to look forward to.

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