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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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251–300 of 1397 comments
Oct 29, 2020 at 1:03 p.m. Kate Says...

Love all of tye planning tips, thank you for your hard work

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:03 p.m. I mags Says...

We were supposed to be there this week. :( Looking forward to returning some day soon!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:03 p.m. Rachel Bailey Says...

I love visiting in December around the holidays! Maybe next year ????

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:02 p.m. D Dunkley Says...

Thank you for all this info!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:02 p.m. Joanna ortiz Says...

You guys are great!! We have order our park tickets through your site. You make it so easy and offer such helpful information, thank you!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:01 p.m. Claire Says...

I love the guides on when there will be heavy crowds. I always use this when planning trips!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:01 p.m. Christine Tranter Says...

Heading out to the parks Jan 30-Feb 7, 2021 - Can't wait!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1:01 p.m. Nicole F Says...

We miss universal so much. Haven’t been in a while. We love your crowd calendar. We use it every time we plan our Universal or Disney trips to pick the best times to visit!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1 p.m. Adara Armey Says...

Cannot wait to go

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1 p.m. Bethony Holt Says...

Thanks for all the great info!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 1 p.m. Aaron Says...

Been to Disney numerous times, never been to Universal, but looks like we need to make plans.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:59 p.m. Bethony Holt Says...

Thanks for all the great info!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:59 p.m. Chris Jepson Says...

My wife and kids are dying to visit Harry Potter

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:59 p.m. Heather Parker Says...

I love undercover tourist! We’ve still been waiting to ride Hagrids and hope to one day do that!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:59 p.m. Canadianmeesh Says...

Can’t wait to go!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:57 p.m. Tina arteaga Says...

Great safety precautions in place and a wonderful getaway for kids during this pandemic!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:57 p.m. Kristen Says...

Undercover tourist rocks!! I get all my theme park info and tickets from here!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:57 p.m. Amanda Says...

Would love to go back to Universal!!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:56 p.m. Amanda H. Says...

Sounds like I need to start planning a September trip!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:56 p.m. Stefwithanf Says...

My kids have never been to Universal Studios, I cant think of a better school vacation trip to get away from the snow!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:55 p.m. Danielle Says...

Fantastic tips, wish I read this before my last visit!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:55 p.m. Erin Jordan Says...

Can't wait to spend Christmas at Universal this year!????

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:55 p.m. Melissa Says...

This is so helpful! I can’t wait to finish planning our trip!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:55 p.m. Michelle W Says...

This is so helpful for our first trip!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:54 p.m. Suzanne Says...

I wish I could convince my husband this was a good idea

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:54 p.m. Sharon B Says...

We had a Universal vacation planned in July, but of course had to cancel. Undercover Tourist made it so easy to cancel the plans and get my refund. Can't wait to be able to rebook!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:53 p.m. Marie Says...

We would love to go when it's warm, but not too bad and low crowds. I want to try the donuts!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:52 p.m. Cindy Young Says...

We always go to Disney with Undercover Tourist tickets, but would love to try out Universal with free tickets!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:51 p.m. Brieanna Says...

Thank you! This post will be super helpful for me. I haven't gotten to Universal yet, and I'm DYING to go for the Harry Potter areas!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:51 p.m. Lori Says...

Hoping to take our Harry Potter fans to Universal soon! Undercover Tourist is a great resource for planning, tickets and more.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:50 p.m. Karin Says...

Universal is awesome! I would love to take my family for a much needed vacation!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:50 p.m. Miguel Enrique Sarti Villela Says...

Hi, I'm getting married on January and our next trip after our honeymoon is to vacate on Olrando and visit Disney and Universal!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:50 p.m. Carrie Says...

I love this company and their many offers and discounts!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:50 p.m. David Watson Says...

October!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:50 p.m. Mumargie Says...

Great insight. Thanks

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:49 p.m. Stacey Nations Says...

Fingers crossed!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:48 p.m. Larrywcc Says...

Been twice and was great and would like to go again with winning free trip

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:48 p.m. Felicia R Says...

Thanks for all the great tips & discounts over the years! Your service is fantastic!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:48 p.m. Bill Drace Says...

I've found that anytime of year has it's pluses and minuses. This was a little more useful in determining when we'll go.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:47 p.m. Donnie Hodges Says...

great place to visit. I like the harry potter stuff.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:47 p.m. kroos2006 Says...

Haven't been to Universal in a few years, been visiting the mouse instead. Would love to go back soon, especially while the crowds are down!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:47 p.m. M. Rechkem Says...

Visiting Disney soon and would love to go to Universal sometime too! Thanks for all of the great info!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:46 p.m. Joni Says...

Love using Undercover Tourist. Always has helpful information. Would love to win a free trip for my granddaughters.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:46 p.m. Pezaddict231 Says...

Have ordered tickets from Undercover Tourist many times. Great Article!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:46 p.m. Sophie Says...

I wish I could take my kids there soon

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:46 p.m. Makala Says...

Can’t wait to go back!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:46 p.m. Brad Says...

Uh oh, looks like we'll be there during one of the worst times :( I wish we could go another time instead.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:46 p.m. Daniel Carman Says...

I wanna go to hogwarts...

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:45 p.m. Dana Says...

We would love to visit Universal again!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:43 p.m. Brittney Says...

My boyfriend hasn’t been to US or IOA before and I would love to show him how amazing it truly is. He laughs when I talk about my trips because he doesn’t understand how magical it is! 2020 has been so tough so I don’t know when I’d be able to share the wonderful world of US and IOA to him.

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