The Best Time to Go to Universal Studios
The best time to visit Universal Studios depends on many different factors. It may come down to family or work schedules, a dislike of the heat and humidity, or a desire to go during Halloween Horror Nights. Schedules and personal preferences aside, some times of the year are better than others when considering crowd levels, ticket prices, and things to do at the parks. Below, we discuss the best times to go to Universal Studios and why.
Visit Universal Studios Orlando’s website for park hours.
Images are courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort
When Is the Best Time to Visit Universal Studios Orlando?
The best time to go to Universal Studios Orlando is September after Labor Day through the middle of October. This is based on various factors, including ticket pricing, crowds, events, and weather.
The first factor is ticket pricing, which we based on a one-day, one-park ticket with no discounts or add-ons. You will find some of the cheapest ticket pricing of the year between September and October. There are many weekdays where you can purchase park tickets at Universal Studios lowest ticket tier, which is $109 for 2023 during this period.
Prices increase slightly on the weekends and rise closer to Halloween.
Ticket pricing and crowd levels are often linked together: you can expect fewer crowds when ticket pricing is low. Universal and Disney intentionally set their prices this way (referred to as “surge pricing”) to encourage guests to visit during slower times. As a result, lower ticket pricing usually indicates the least crowded days to visit Universal.
Crowds are typically lower after Labor Day through mid-October because most children have returned to school by the end of Labor Day weekend. In addition, families are less likely to take their children out of school for vacation right after summer breaks, making it a great time to visit Universal and other Orlando theme parks.
You can expect crowds to slightly increase on weekends due to visits from locals and annual pass holders. Still, you won’t generally notice it compared to other busy times of the year, such as during the summer or spring break. Don’t forget you can always purchase an express pass. The peak season for park guests in Universal Studios Orlando is May to August.
Halloween Horror Nights and other Special Events
One of the primary reasons September and October are the best times to go to Universal is to experience Halloween Horror Nights, by far Universal Studios’ most popular event of the year. This event regularly sells out.
This ticketed event is held on select nights throughout September and October from around 6 pm to 1 or 2 am. Halloween Horror Nights are usually held on the weekends through most of September. Then two or three-weekday events are added toward the end of September and throughout October and would be perfect for a fall break.
Visiting on a weekday event night between mid-September and mid-October will give you the best opportunity to enjoy Halloween Horror Nights while avoiding the more crowds that descend around Halloween.
The weather in Central Florida is another excellent reason to visit Universal between mid-September and mid-October. Florida usually transitions from a tropical, wet-season pattern with daily afternoon thunderstorms to a dry, low-humidity pattern with very few rainy days during this time. When visiting in October, expect days with highs in the low and mid-80s with low humidity and comfortable, breezy nights. These are the perfect temperatures for a night out at HHN.
Other Great Times to Visit Universal
While mid-September through mid-October is the best time to visit Universal, there are other periods throughout the year when you’d experience low crowds, great weather, and plenty of activities. Here are some of the other great times to visit Universal:
January — The End of February
The period just after New Year’s and before March first is historically the least crowded time of the year to visit Universal Studios Orlando. Crowds increase on certain long weekends, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the third Monday in January) and President’s Day (the third Monday in February). Still, most weekends and weekdays are great times to visit.
Suppose you choose to visit right after New Year’s. In that case, you can experience all the Universal holiday festivities and decorations without the holiday crowds. Universal Studios Christmas decor typically stays up through the first weekend in January. You can also join in on the festive fun of Mardi Gras, which starts in early February every year.
The weather is typically very comfortable during this time as well. There’s low humidity, below-average precipitation, and only a few “cold snaps” (which in Florida means any day under 70 degrees). So overall, you’ll experience the type of weather you can boast about to your friends up north who are stuck in snowy cities.
Ticket prices are typically some of the lowest of the entire year during this time, too!
End of April — Mid-May
The spring break rush leading up to Memorial Day is another excellent time to visit Universal Studios Orlando. Again, low attendance will allow you to enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, the VelociCoaster at Jurassic World, and thrill rides like Rip, Ride, and Rockit with short wait times. Weather-wise, you can expect warm, summer-like temperatures with increasing humidity and some intense afternoon thundershowers that pass quickly.
What Is the Best Month to Visit Universal Studios?
October is the best month to visit Universal Studios Orlando. More specifically, weekdays in the first two weeks of October are the best time to visit.
Crowds are typically low at the beginning of October but increase closer to Halloween. Weekends in October can get pretty busy: many locals and annual pass holders come to experience Halloween Horror Nights on their time off. You may experience a slight spike in attendance the weekend before Columbus Day weekend / Indigenous Peoples’ Day (the second Monday in October). However, you’ll be set if you stick to weekdays in October.
The main event during this time is Halloween Horror Nights. If you’re a fan of seeing your nightmares come to life with haunted houses themed after popular shows like Stranger Things and movies like The Haunting of Hill House, you’ll definitely want to visit Universal during this time. However, if horror isn’t your cup of tea, Central Florida’s low humidity, low rain chances (goodbye afternoon thunderstorms!), and comfortable afternoon temperatures will convince you to visit Universal Orlando in October.
What Is the Best Season to Visit Universal Studios?
The best season to visit Universal Orlando is winter.
There’s something simply wonderful about visiting theme parks around the holidays. There’s never a dull moment with plenty of festive experiences, whether you watch Hogwarts™ castle come to life with visions of the Yule Ball at Hogsmeade™ or take a trip to Who-ville for Grinchmas™ at Seuss Landing™.
Don’t forget to catch the holiday parade featuring balloons from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Although winter is one of the best times to visit Universal, it can also be one of the busiest, so expect crowds. If you avoid these busy times, you’ll see the lowest crowds and prices of the year.
We suggest visiting Universal Orlando during the following times in the winter:
- Beginning of November through the week before Thanksgiving.
- The week after Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas.
- January through the third week in February.
What Days of the Week are the Least Busy at Universal Studios?
The slowest days of the week at Universal are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, especially during the school year. The reason is pretty apparent: it is smack dab in the middle of the workweek. Those are a few days that adults are less likely to take off work (even if they want to take a long weekend) and aren’t typical days for kids to be off school unless it’s during a break. Note: this doesn’t mean you won’t see children on your trip if you visit during one of these days! Saturday is usually the busiest day to visit Universal Studios Orlando, so the closer you get to the weekend, the busier it will be.
What is the Best Day to Visit Universal Studios?
The best day to go to Universal Studios is Wednesday. Since Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the slowest days of the week, they’re also the best few days to visit.
As we discussed above, ticket prices typically indicate crowd levels. Ticket pricing on Wednesday is consistently lower than on other days of the week throughout the year. Therefore, planning a trip on a Wednesday gives you the best chance to purchase park tickets at Universal’s lowest ticket pricing tier. However, a few exceptions exist, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve week. Overall, Wednesday is the least crowded and cheapest day to visit Universal Orlando, regardless of the season.
What is the Cheapest Month to Visit Universal Studios in 2023?
September is the cheapest month to visit Universal Orlando. Current ticket pricing shows a total of 14 days throughout September, priced at Universal’s lowest pricing tier of $109 for a one-day, one-park ticket, more than any other month in 2023. This increases your chances of getting the best possible price for your Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure park tickets. We suggest choosing a weekday after Labor Day and before October first to get the best ticket deals.
What is the Most Expensive Month to Go to Universal?
The most expensive month to visit Universal Orlando is December. We don’t want to be a Grinch, but since the Christmas season is one of the busiest times to go to Universal, the ticket pricing is the highest of the year. In fact, the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s is priced at the most expensive tier, which is $152 per day in 2023. Even the lowest ticket price in December is the most expensive price point in slower months like September. The Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championships are also in the first week of December.
See our How Much Does It Cost to Go to Universal article for more information.
When is the Busiest Time to Visit Universal Studios?
We’ve discussed the best time to go to Universal, but what times of the year should you avoid? Universal Studios’ busiest times coincide with other busy times at theme parks like Walt Disney World. The busiest times to visit Universal Orlando are:
- The week of Thanksgiving.
- The week between Christmas and New Year’s.
- Spring break season (the beginning of March through Easter Sunday).
These are the times when most children are on school breaks, and many adults also have off work. So you can bet that any time there is a large group of people off of work or school at the same time, Orlando theme parks will be busy.
Visit Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park and movie studio in Los Angeles, California. It is one of the most popular and oldest theme parks in the United States, featuring attractions and rides based on popular movies and television shows. Some of the park’s most popular rides include the Forbidden Journey ride, Harry Potter World, The Walking Dead attraction, and Jurassic Park: The Ride.
The park also features a variety of live shows, including the Special Effects Show, Super Silly Fun Land, Universal Citywalk, and the WaterWorld stunt show. In addition to the rides and shows, visiting Universal Studios Hollywood also has a variety of dining and shopping options, as well as several hotels located nearby for those who want to make a vacation out of their visit.
The Best Time to Visit Universal Studios: A Summary
The best times to visit Universal Studios are:
- September after Labor Day through mid-October.
- January through the end of February.
- April (after Easter Sunday) through the week before Memorial Day.
The cheapest and least crowded times to visit Universal Studios are:
- Weekdays in October.
- January through the third week in February.
Additionally, winter is the best season to visit Universal Studios due to the numerous special events that occur during the holiday season and the low crowds in January and February if you plan your trip in very early January (just after New Year’s), you can even experience all the holiday festivities—without the large crowds.
We base these conclusions on several factors, including historical crowd levels, ticket pricing, and the weather in Central Florida.
We hope this guide will help you and your family plan your trip to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure and demystify the mystery behind deciding when to visit.
Book your Universal Orlando Vacation
If you’re ready to get started with booking your Universal Studios vacation, talk to our friends at The Vacationeer. They offer free vacation planning services with expert Universal travel agents. Click HERE for a free quote!
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See our other Universal pages, including: Universal Orlando Map, Universal Orlando Transportation, Best Universal Orlando Rides, Universal vs Disney World, How to Get from Disney World to Universal, How Much do Wands cost at Universal Studios, Is the Universal Express Pass Worth It, Universal Orlando Customer Service Contact Info, and How to get the Universal Express Pass for Free.