One of the most common questions in regards to going to Universal Orlando is: When is the best (and worst) time to go? While it really just depends on your schedule and ability to go, there are a lot of factors that go into determining this.
There are a few toss-up times during the year when Universal has a seasonal event happening that is tons of fun to attend but also brings in big crowds. Mardi Gras, Halloween Horror Nights (HHN), and the Holidays are unique times to plan a vacation. During Mardi Gras and Christmas, the Park has parades, themed food and beverage offerings, and Mardi Gras even has a series of concerts that are free with a Park ticket. Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed, Park-wide, Halloween lover’s dream, with several haunted houses, scare zones, and more themed food and drink choices. Although Islands of Adventure does some seasonal decor and entertainment, they don’t do events on the scale that Universal Studios does.
January is a great time of year to visit Universal Orlando. The holidays are over, it’s “chilly” for Florida that time of year, and with Mardi Gras coming up in February, most Guests wait until the following month. While Mardi Gras is letting the good times roll in Universal Studios, it’s a great time to visit Islands of Adventure for smaller crowds. March and April are hit or miss for both parks with spring breakers and massive school groups coming through. If you want to enjoy Universal before the heat of summer really sets in, this is the best time to go.
May through August is probably the worst time to vacation in Florida. It’s hot, with temps able to get up to over 100 degrees, and it’s hurricane season, meaning that it rains for at least an hour every single day. With many kids out for summer break, the lines are long, the crowds are massive, and the heat gets to everyone.
September and October are still hot, but this is when Halloween Horror Nights takes place. Although this event requires a separate ticket, it still brings in some decent crowds during the day. However, Universal Studios is decorated with all of their Halloween props during the day so it provides a spooky atmosphere without the frights of the nighttime. During HHN nights, the Park does close early for daytime Guests, while Islands of Adventure maintains normal hours. Islands of Adventure does occasionally have a mini-event in Hogsmeade during this time, with Death Eaters running around the area and taking over the nightly light show on the castle.
Immediately after the first weekend in November, Universal switches gears to Christmas, with decorations going up in both Parks. Universal Studios has a nightly Christmas parade and Islands of Adventure offers the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular show. This is probably the busiest time of year for the Universal Parks, with families taking their vacation over Christmas and winter break. Although there’s definitely a sense of magic and cooler temps in the Parks during this time, there’s also massive lines and crowds and without an Express Pass, it can be hard to do everything.
Overall, the beginning of the year and early to mid-spring are the best times of year to visit Universal Orlando in order to avoid the worst of the crowds and the hot, rainy summer weather. However, keep in mind it all depends on what you want to see and do on your vacation!