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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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401–450 of 1397 comments
Oct 21, 2020 at 12:28 p.m. Peter Peter Says...

I have never been, but I would love to go. Thanks for the great tips on when to go!

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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:20 p.m. Lucinda K Says...

This information is VALUABLE INTEL!!!! Thanks so much for sharing this.

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Oct 21, 2020 at 9:25 a.m. Susan 123 Says...

Wearing a mask in the parks is not hard, and the parks are still a lot of fun!

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Oct 21, 2020 at 2:37 a.m. CRH Says...

Thanks so much

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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:53 a.m. KBStitches Says...

My last trip was April of 2019, just after the Mardi Gras Celebration and just before all the school vacation weeks, it timed out perfectly crowd level wise!

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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:48 a.m. Robin Price Says...

I hope all this holds true and we get some semblance of normal back next year!

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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:17 a.m. Patricia Wilson Says...

A vivid journey of sunshine, laughter, and tears

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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:17 a.m. Patricia Wilson Says...

A vivid journey of sunshine, laughter, and tears

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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:15 a.m. Maureen Says...

Thanks for some great advice on when to visit Universal!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 8:38 p.m. Isabela Rodriguez Says...

I love this place!! But I agree, I went in thanksgiving a while ago and was sooo busy

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Oct 20, 2020 at 7:46 p.m. schawn Says...

I can't wait to go back! I'm hoping that things are back to normal in late Spring so I can be there for the Mardi Gras celebration.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 6:25 p.m. Peg H Says...

went in 11/2019 and loved it!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 6:24 p.m. JustineB Says...

Love Universal!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 6:17 p.m. Alexis Gaines Says...

I would love to visit Disney with my kids

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Oct 20, 2020 at 5:28 p.m. Lisa Says...

This is so cool!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 5:15 p.m. Melanie Says...

Thank you!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 4:49 p.m. george ashmore Says...

Disney is aweful nowadays--Universal was always better.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 4:39 p.m. tinker bell Says...

Looking forward to going soon!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. TM Says...

Thanks!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 4:29 p.m. Boogs Says...

This is great information! Planning my trip now!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:47 p.m. Jen Says...

Any time!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:39 p.m. Steph H Says...

I like to visit at the beginning of February.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:26 p.m. Shoshannah Harrison Says...

This would be soooo fun! We all need some magic in our lives.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:19 p.m. Mabel Thompson Says...

Taking my second trip to Disney this December.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 2:33 p.m. LLMom Says...

We would love to visit Universal!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. Alec Says...

Helping people stay happy at the Happiest Place on Earth!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 11:13 a.m. Emily L. Says...

Just came back from a quick getaway to Universal's Island of Adventure, as I sit in my office typing this, I'm already daydreaming of returning! When we first arrived at Universal, the park was a half-hour away from opening and the crowd seemed to be a bit crowded. Once the gates opened, everyone was able to safely spread out and go about their days. Employees were constantly cleaning up or reminding guests to wear their masks properly. My fiance and I had the absolute best time and cannot wait to plan our next visit!

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:39 a.m. Melanie G Says...

It has been a rough few years. Divorce has been rough on my 3 children-now all teens- and myself. Would love to take them to Universal. We have never been. Have done Disney but was waiting til the kids were older to do Universal, but now as a single mom, it makes it more difficult for me to get us there-financially speaking. Fingers crossed.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 3:19 a.m. Jennifer Johnson Says...

We’d love to take our 3 kids to Universal.

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Oct 20, 2020 at 1:45 a.m. J Says...

Love this! Can’t wait to go!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:35 p.m. Alejandra Says...

I would love to go again! I love this place so much!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:34 p.m. Rexy Says...

Enjoyed the article

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:28 p.m. Victoria Says...

Great Tips! It is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to planning our first trip to Universal Orlando and I am soaking this all up!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 9:52 p.m. Virginia Oswalt Says...

looking forward to taking my grandchildren when their parents feel it is safe again.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 8:59 p.m. Jenny Jung Says...

This is a dream come true!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 8:12 p.m. Tim Says...

I'd love a Christmas trip!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 7:45 p.m. Autumn Says...

I love universal studio

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Oct 19, 2020 at 5:07 p.m. Michael A Booth Says...

Universal and IOA are my favorite parks to go to.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. Tricia Says...

Cannot wait to plan a trip!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 4:26 p.m. James Dyson Says...

Can't wait to go again!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 3:15 p.m. Lacey J Says...

I love Undercover Tourist and wokld never consider visiting the parks without using y’all!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 2:40 p.m. Leslie H Says...

I haven't been to Universal since 2016. I am hopeful to go within the next year or two and bring my son. As a toddler, it would be interesting to see the park through his eyes.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 1:41 p.m. MikeJ Says...

OMG, this is sooo needed!!!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:43 p.m. Muffin Says...

Hoping to reschedule for next year!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:21 p.m. Ann Marie Says...

We're planning on going during the first half of August 2021. I guess we should expect large crowds. :(

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Oct 19, 2020 at 12:05 p.m. Jonathan McIntosh Says...

Thanks for this info. Helpful for our fam as we plan our next trip... hopefully in 2021!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 11:49 a.m. Donna J Says...

My daughters would love to go to Universal - I just found out they have a Simpsons area!

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Oct 19, 2020 at 9:23 a.m. Stevie Says...

I am hoping to take my kids next spring to Disney World!! This will definitely help with the trip planning.

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Oct 19, 2020 at 9:16 a.m. John A Deal Says...

I would love to visit there

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Oct 19, 2020 at 6:13 a.m. Treva Smith Says...

Cool blog. I have not been, I would love to visit sometime

Reply
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