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Explore Hogwarts, Jurassic Park, and more without the wait (or the costs). 

Bailey Bennett
December 18, 2017

Whether you’re visiting for the superheros, the dinosaurs, the Simpsons, or the Butterbeer, Universal Orlando is the kind of theme park that attracts visitors of all ages and all fandoms. Unfortunately, it can also be the kind of theme park that drains your wallet more quickly than you might have hoped.

Between park tickets, hotel stays, dining prices, and that surprisingly expensive Harry Potter wand you’re going to inevitably buy, the cost of a Universal vacation can quickly add up. A little savvy planning, however, and research into the most popular and least popular times to visit the park can yield surprisingly affordable results.

Like Disney World, Universal Orlando has both peak seasons and off seasons throughout the year, dictating how much a vacation will cost during each respective week or month. In fact, many of Universal’s least expensive times coincide with Disney World’s least expensive times, making a wallet-friendly trip to both theme parks quite feasible during your next vacation.

Looking at hotel prices, crowd calendars, and the fluctuating price of a one-day ticket helped us determine the least expensive times to visit Universal Orlando. Book accordingly, and you could be enjoying quiet parks, lower prices, and a really short line for Escape from Gringotts.

The Best Times to Visit Universal Orlando

Generally, the least busy and least expensive times to visit Universal Orlando are through much of January and early February. Excluding the days immediately following the New Year, as well as winter break in February and Harry Potter weekend (January 26 through January 28,) these two months of the year are usually the most affordable.

At Cabana Bay Beach, Universal’s most budget-friendly resort, a standard room goes for an average of $139 per night on dates like January 18 through 21 and February 8 through 11. 

Additionally, the park’s one-day tiered ticketing system shows that Universal considers most days in January and February to be “value” days. Luckily, staying for three or four days at a time can also greatly reduce the price of park admission, with Universal offering some stellar “Stay More, Save More” vacation packages and deals.

While January and February are the cheapest times to visit Universal Orlando, September is also an extremely affordable month, with Cabana Bay standard rooms starting at $154 per night during sample dates from September 13 to September 16.

By the end of the month, however, Universal’s nighttime entertainment transforms into Halloween Horror Nights — one of the resort’s most popular events. For those interested in spooks and scares, late September and the month of October might be a great time to visit, although the event does bring in slightly larger crowds.

The Worst Times to Visit Universal Orlando

Like many other theme parks, the most congested and expensive times to visit Universal are during the holidays. With the addition of new Harry Potter holiday-themed events, the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons can now be packed at Universal. A standard room at Cabana Bay, in fact, starts at $244 per night in the days immediately following Christmas, making this a festive but pricey time to visit the parks. 

While the holidays can be rough, there may be a sweet spot in the days leading up to the Christmas mayhem. For those wishing to experience the Holidays at Hogwarts, Grinchmas, and the Macy’s Christmas Parade at the parks, a few dates next December can yield surprisingly affordable fares. Currently, average costs for a standard room at Cabana Bay from December 10 to December 13, 2018 stand at just $130 per night.

The summer months are also to be avoided, if possible. This is when Universal Orlando visitors should be prepared for scorching temperatures, a high volume of local kids (and adults) enjoying their summer breaks, and inflated prices.

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