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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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301–350 of 1397 comments
Oct 29, 2020 at 12:43 p.m. Michael Leonard Says...

Universal Orlando is great! I cannot wait for Super Nintendo Land!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:41 p.m. Katherine L Says...

Love, love, love Universal, especially Hagrid's Motorbike!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:41 p.m. Mark Page Says...

Universal Orlando - Heaven on Earth

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:40 p.m. Rebecca Collins Says...

My husband and I just found out that we are expecting our first child! I cannot wait until we can share magical places, like this, with them!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:39 p.m. Gina Wilkes Kenyon Says...

Love the information. Always comes in handy when we visit disney and universal.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:39 p.m. Helpful Says...

Super helpful to know the busy times!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:39 p.m. Steph Dee Says...

We went last year early December and it was a great time to go! Not too crowded (we did have unlimited express pass by staying at RP) and all the Christmas stuff was up.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:38 p.m. JEANNE FISHER Says...

I can't wait to travel again!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:37 p.m. Brian Says...

Family is obsessed with Harry Potter, so this trip would be amazing!! Good luck to everyone!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:37 p.m. Adriana Moss Says...

I hope to get back to Universal Studios and the most wonderful place on earth (Disney World, duh!) after I have my first baby and share all the with him!!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:36 p.m. Erin Says...

I can't wait to go back!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:36 p.m. Laura Campbell Says...

I hope that the mask requirements go away before I visit in 2022.

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:34 p.m. Lisa Snow Says...

We so need this right now! Thank you for all you do!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:32 p.m. Mother of 2 Says...

Can't wait to get back!

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Oct 29, 2020 at 12:31 p.m. Jennifer Zapata Says...

Awesome!

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Oct 28, 2020 at 10:46 p.m. Brad J Says...

Had a great time here last week. Would have a better time if I win a free trip

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Oct 28, 2020 at 5:49 p.m. Shawna Boltz Says...

The only thing that beats an adventure like this is a free adventure like this!

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Oct 28, 2020 at 3:35 p.m. Eileen Laferriere Says...

Watching the Harry Potter movies again, can't wait to see Harry Potter's world in person at Universal!

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Oct 28, 2020 at 2:33 p.m. KATHRYN TEEL Says...

I have my fingers crossed I love Disney and so do my grandchildren. This would be wonderful!

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Oct 28, 2020 at 5:44 a.m. Marla Jones Says...

I need a vacation really bad! I have only had 2 in my life!! pick me please

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Oct 28, 2020 at 3:22 a.m. Clinton Says...

This is a very informational read!!!

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Oct 27, 2020 at 11:11 p.m. Jen_A_Lang Says...

I so badly want to go to Universal Orlando again. It has been years since I have visited. My daughter is a big Harry Potter fan and I would love to surprise her with a vacation for Christmas!

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Oct 27, 2020 at 9:54 p.m. MomOTwins Says...

Curious if there may be an uptick in Universal crowds in October 2021 due to people going to WDW for its big anniversary and swinging by Universal for a couple of days. That could make spring/summer 2021 a better bet than the fall.

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Oct 27, 2020 at 9:23 p.m. Tammy Pereira Says...

I have never had issues with visiting in November. The weather is generally good and it is usually less crowded.

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Oct 27, 2020 at 5:05 p.m. educ8rpj Says...

This blog is really awesome! There's so much info here, I'm almost overwhelmed at where to start! Thanks for sharing all of this and keeping our dreams of Disney alive!!!

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Oct 27, 2020 at 4:49 p.m. Stacey Says...

We loved our stay at Loews Royal Pacific and 4 days in Universal September 2017 - definitely a terrific time of year to visit!!

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Oct 27, 2020 at 3:26 p.m. jerry hardie Says...

well I really want to visit in this lifetime so hopefully every other guest will be at home. when i do go there

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Oct 27, 2020 at 8:05 a.m. Paul Says...

The best time to visit is when a Covid vaccine is available.

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Oct 27, 2020 at 4:56 a.m. Alex Says...

Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put into these reviews. They really do help plan out our trips. From Cali to Florida, you have done a great service to our family. Keep up the great work!

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Oct 26, 2020 at 7:06 p.m. Shannon Brannick Says...

Ahh this looks so fun!! Thanks for the info!

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Oct 26, 2020 at 4:28 p.m. Tyne Caouette Says...

I want to take the grand kids once this pandemic is over

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Oct 26, 2020 at 4:17 p.m. Macy Veto Says...

Loved this blog! Super helpful and informative!

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Oct 26, 2020 at 2:38 p.m. Jmshaw89 Says...

Cannot wait to visit Orlando again!

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Oct 26, 2020 at 2:14 p.m. DONNA BOWMAN Says...

thank goodness for yall letting us know all of these tips1! never would have known otherwise!!

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Oct 26, 2020 at 12:53 p.m. Becca boo Says...

Can’t wait to go back!! ❤️

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Oct 26, 2020 at 11:24 a.m. Timothy Anderson Jr Says...

We went the first week of October 2018 For 3days and the crowd wasn't too bad. When we atttended a horror night it was packed. Durning the 3 days we were able to get on most rides rather quickly and even repeat some immediately. Spiderman for example. I do reccomend staying at the hotels you mentioned. The fast pass was a godsend. Thanks for the tips.

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Oct 26, 2020 at 2:12 a.m. Laurie shelton Says...

Thanks for all of the great information we are excited for our trip next November.

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Oct 26, 2020 at 1:55 a.m. Karen Says...

February can’t get here soon enough!!

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Oct 26, 2020 at 1:15 a.m. Mary Ronan Says...

I would never go to Disney World without checking your crowd calendar!

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Oct 25, 2020 at 3:14 p.m. Guitargirl Says...

Thank you for this! Such a great article. Would love the chance to visit !

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Oct 25, 2020 at 1:12 p.m. MN Mouse Says...

Wish this could be published for Disneyland.

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Oct 25, 2020 at 5:14 a.m. Julie Elliott Says...

How FuN!!!

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Oct 25, 2020 at 4:12 a.m. Tia Says...

I love would to visit again!

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Oct 25, 2020 at 3:12 a.m. Kat Says...

Good to know. I'd visit on a weekday to avoid the largest crowds.

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Oct 25, 2020 at 1:33 a.m. Karen keyser Says...

Epic

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Oct 24, 2020 at 9:50 p.m. Jill W Says...

Dreaming of visiting soon!

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Oct 24, 2020 at 9:02 p.m. LS Abel Says...

Thank you ! Love all your information.

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Oct 24, 2020 at 5:59 p.m. Brooke Says...

Love!!

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Oct 24, 2020 at 3:50 p.m. Ducky Says...

I always use Undercover Tourist to help plan my Disney and my Universal trips. Their knowledge, as well as amazing customer service, really make a trip awesome!

Reply
Oct 24, 2020 at 2:16 p.m. Grace Says...

So glad I heard about this Undercover Tourist contest!! Such a great website and I look forward to keeping in touch :)

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