The Best Time to Visit Universal Studios Orlando

Visiting Universal Studios Orlando can be a memorable trip for any theme park enthusiast.

However, choosing the right time is crucial in ensuring you’ll have the best experience possible.

The best time to visit Universal Studios Orlando is between January and May (excluding Spring Break) and September – although watch out for the hurricanes this time of year. Additionally, you’ll want to take your trip mid-week (Monday-Thursday), as otherwise, the park will be too crowded. 

Visiting Universal Studios Orlando during the peak season is a very different experience from the off-peak season.

Therefore if you’ve already booked, it’s essential to know what to expect and how to maximise your experience regardless.

Best Time Of Year To Visit Universal Studios Orlando

The best time of the year to visit Universal Studios in Orlando is during the off-season.

The off-season generally runs from the start of fall in late August / early September through to the spring-time in March, April time.

However, there are some exceptions, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas & Spring Break.

As such, if we’re looking to experience the benefits of visiting Universal Studios Orlando in the off-season, we generally try to go for one of the following;

  • Anytime in September
  • Middle of November – a week to ten days after Halloween and around two weeks to ten days prior to Thanksgiving.
  • Anytime in January
  • Anytime in February
  • First third of March – depending on when Spring Break / Easter lands.
  • Last week of April – depending on when Spring Break / Easter lands.
  • Anytime in May

These times are generally quieter at the parks as most children and students have gone back to school, and the weather isn’t as hot and humid as the summer months.

The Benefits Of Visiting Universal Studios Orlando In The Off-Season

With those weeks in mind, it’s worth considering the benefits of visiting Universal Studios Orlando during the off-season.

Because for it maybe worth rearranging time off work or any other travel plans you might have.

Reduced Crowds

The most obvious benefit of visiting Universal Studios Orlando during the off-season is the reduced crowds.

Reduced crowds result in significantly shorter wait times for rides and can mean that you could potentially visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in one day.

For example, in August, we’ve been known to wait upwards of 120 minutes for The Hogwarts Express, which takes you between the two Universal Studios parks.

However, in March, we’ve been known to wait for anything from 20 minutes to 30 minutes for that same ride.

There are exceptions to this.

For example, it will still depend on the time of day and the day of the week you visit.

However, it highlights how much more you can experience (and the quality of that experience) in one day at the parks.

Unsuprisingly then we’ve found that an Express Pass is going to be essential if you’re only visiting the Universal Orlando Resort for a day or two.

However, there is a way to combat the crowds if you’re visiting in the peak season, and that’s purchasing a Universal Studios Express Pass or staying in one of the on-site hotels that offer this pass complimentary to guests.

Less Intense Weather

While you’ll find the most consistently sunny days in Orlando during the summer months the Florida sun can be too hot for some travellers and can make standing in the heat waiting for rides at the park unbearable.

Instead, you might find that although slightly less consistent, the climate during the off-season (September through to May) is significantly more bearable with temperatures during this time hovering around 70°F (21.1°C).

However, keep in mind that while Florida is known as the sunshine state when visiting in the off-season, there’s no guarantee you’ll see sunshine every day.

As a result you’ll want to make sure that you’re Universal Studios packing list includes a poncho, some long trousers & a light jacket.

You’ll also want to watch out for hurricane season, which is predominantly during the last weeks of August through to the beginning of October.

Sadly we’ve had entire vacations cancelled due to hurricanes and hurricane warnings.

More Affordable

Enjoying a cooler breeze and a crowd-free experience isn’t the only perk of visiting Universal Studios Orlando during the off-season.

Fewer tourists visiting the park also means a decreased demand for park tickets, accommodation, and transportation, leading to a price drop on all three.

For example, a two-day park-to-park ticket at the end of August / beginning of September is $273.99, while that same two-day park-to-park ticket in July costs an additional $48 at $321.99.

This saves almost $150 on tickets alone for a family of three, which unsurprisingly makes the off-season the best time to visit Universal Studios Orlando if you’re travelling on a budget.

Most Popular Time To Visit Universal Studios Orlando

The most popular seasons at Universal Studios Orlando fall on major holidays, which is also when you’ll find most schools are on a break.

Universal Studios Orlando regularly decorates around the holidays to create a festive atmosphere which can make a vacation to the resort even more incredible.

However, experiencing this magic comes at a price, and that price is often busier crowds, longer wait times and a significantly more expensive vacation.

Here’s what’s to expect when you visit during the peak season;

Halloween

Universal Studios, Orlando is home to the world’s premier Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights.

This event runs on selected nights between September to the beginning of November and is a massive hit with horror lovers across the United States who visit the park annually to experience a fright!

On the days before, after, and during this event, you’ll find that Universal Studios Orlando is significantly busier, even though visitors to the event need separate tickets to attend after-dark.

Thanksgiving

Universal Studios, Orlando doesn’t particularly celebrate Thanksgiving, and as a result, you’ll find no unique attractions or decorations.

Regardless of this, it’s still the second busiest day to visit the park (Christmas being the first).

Based on our previous Thanksgiving trips to Universal Studios, Orlando, we’ve found that the park usually reaches capacity around 11am and results in wait times exceeding two hours for the most popular rides.

The week before and after Thanksgiving is also busy, with many people combining visiting the park with visiting friends and family in the area.

The week post-Thanksgiving also often overlaps with the launch of the Christmas decorations at the park, which usually goes up to around the middle of November.

Christmas

Universal Studios in Orlando is open on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day with no reduced levels of service or shorter opening hours.

And while Christmas Day and Boxing Day tend to be the busiest for the resort you’ll still find that there is an uplift in crowds in the week prior, and then again between Christmas and New Year.

This is a result of people both coming to see the exclusive Universal Christmas decor while also taking advantage of the time off school and travelling to see friends and family.

New Year

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are among two of the most popular days to visit Universal Studios Orlando as school is still out over the holidays.

Much like Christmas and Thanksgiving, there are no reduced hours or level of service on these dates.

Easter

The weeks before and after Easter are incredibly busy at Universal Studios with students both in the US and internationally being on a break.

We have visited specifically on Easter Sunday and found that the crowds didn’t seem higher than the weeks prior to and after.

Instead, we found that it’s generally just a flat peak level across those two to three weeks.

Spring Break

Spring Break is taken at slightly different times depending on the state and school you are in.

While the schools in Florida will have the most significant impact on the crowds at Universal Studios in Orlando, it’s still worth researching other Spring Break dates before booking where possible.

Best Days Of The Week To Visit Universal Studios Orlando

The best days of the week to visit Universal Studios Orlando are Monday through Thursday.

Especially during the peak season, you may find that visiting on these weekdays gives you a slight appease from the level of crowds that you would otherwise find on Friday through Sunday from those visiting the resort for a long weekend.

Getting Around Big Crowds In Universal Studios Orlando

If you find yourself visiting Universal Studios Orlando during the peak season, you can do some things to make the experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

Firstly, look at staying on-site.

Staying on-site not only comes with the benefit of being closer to the park entrance, but you’ll also get early admission and, in some cases, a complimentary Universal Studios Express Pass.

If you are staying off-site, then look into the cost of purchasing a Universal Studios Express Pass separately – although keep in mind it could be more cost-effective to stay on-site in a hotel that offers the pass complimentary.

The most affordable way to maximise your day at Universal Studios Orlando during the peak season is to arrive early.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to arrive at Universal Studios Orlando at least thirty minutes before it opens.

Additionally, keep in mind that opening times can vary slightly throughout the year, so checking the park’s site beforehand is always a good idea.

By arriving 30-45 minutes early, you’ll be able to comfortably go through the security checkpoints and still enter in time to experience as many attractions as possible.

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